Become An Acquia Certified Grand Master

We work in an industry that is constantly evolving.

As developers, the onus is on us to continually establish and build on our skill sets, because the bar for excellence is constantly being raised. Evolve or die may be a bit dramatic, but it’s not far from the truth.

That kind of constant evolution makes it difficult to define what mastery means in our field, which makes establishing credibility a major challenge. Two Myplaneteers — Everett Zufelt and Shanly Suepal — became Acquia Certified Grand Masters recently, so we wanted to take a look at the benefits of getting this kind of certification.

First and foremost, getting certified offers reassurance to clients. Our customers want to know that their dollars are being spent wisely; they need confidence in the people they’re trusting their sites, web applications, and ultimately their brand equity to. Certifications give credence to the claims we make as developers about our skills. Rebuilding or fixing sites made by an in-over-their-head developer or team is costly, so clients rely on external validation to confirm their choices.


Too often in this industry we underestimate the value of having something to point to that confirms we are what we say we are.

Shanly Suepal, Acquia Certified Grand Master

Because it offers proof and reassurance of our skills, having certified team members is also an enormous added business value. In-house experts, a proven track record and being seen as industry-leaders are powerful tools in your arsenal. Not to mention that in pursuing the certifications, we’re forced to revisit some nascent skills, stay up-to-date on industry trends and tools, and broaden and update our knowledge base as we prepare for the certification exams. 

Becoming an Acquia Certified Grand Master is also a meaningful personal challenge. There are only 5 Grand Masters in Canada, which can make it seem like one of two things: an almost unattainable benchmark or a prime chance to differentiate yourself from the field.

The exams are challenging, but an experienced developer with the right resources can almost certainly pass. And in pushing yourself to be that person, you’ll find yourself more invested in Drupal, more motivated to stay current with your skills, and more likely to engage with new developments down the line. And yes, you'll stand out a bit more from the field.

The Acquia Certification Program may seem intimidating but the resources are there for so many more experts in the field to be certified. With two Grand Masters in-house, we thought we’d share some of what they found useful as they pursued certification.

  1. It’s not a study and pass style exam. Experience with Drupal and honing your gut instinct is an essential component to passing. The more experience you have, the easier it will be.

  2. Familiarize yourself with the style of exam. Talk to others who have taken exams before and look to online resources like the Acquia Certified Developer - Front End Specialist Exam Blueprint and the Acquia Certified Developer - Back End Specialist Exam Blueprint to get an understanding of the scope and type of content covered in the exams. You may be surprised by how much you already know — even if you’re not a Drupal expert specifically. Being a well-rounded web professional should give you solid foundation for success.
  3. Turn to specific resources for focused skill sharpening. One of the major things this kind of certification exam uncovers is personal areas of weakness. Use that to your advantage and hone in on the areas you know you aren’t as skilled at. (An extensive list of possible resources is included at the end of this article)
  4. Don’t worry too much and just write it. It’s not about memorizing hooks and regurgitating them back on an exam. Your experience will provide you with more tools to pass than anything else. Review materials, refresh yourself on core concepts and then just go for it.

Hopefully the number of certified developers in Canada continues to grow as people recognize not just the value of having another certification, but the value of pursuing it, of pushing yourself to learn constantly and to evolve. It reassures clients, offers real business value and serves as a personal motivator and guidepost for future growth.

Do you have tips of your own for writing certification exams? Leave a comment below or shoot us a message at


Resource List

FE Specialist



Chapter 17 of DGD7

BE Specialist


aka Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 cc 15-16-

Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 chapter 17 - 

Module Building 
Pro Drupal 7 Development, Third Edition - 
Definitive Guide to Drupal 7 -

hook_menu() / hook_menu_alter()!system!system.api.php/function/hook_menu/7!system!system.api.php/function/hook_menu_alter/7

Form API!!topics!forms_api_reference.html/7

Node API!node!node.api.php/group/node_api_hooks/7

Block API!block!block.api.php/7

Core System hooks!system!system.api.php/function/hook_boot/7!system!system.api.php/function/hook_init/7!system!system.api.php/function/hook_cron/7!system!system.api.php/function/hook_mail/7


Database API!database!!database!!system!system.api.php/function/hook_schema/7


Written by

The Myplanet Team

The Myplanet Team

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