Jira Certification Exam
By David Sokolowski
Atlassian Solutions Architect
Last year Atlassian announced that it would be offering an Administration Certification for both JIRA and Confluence, as well as a preparation course for the Jira Certification exam. As an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, Coyote Creek Consulting has set a goal of having all of our Atlassian engineers certified in both Jira and Confluence. I recently passed the exam to become an Atlassian certified Jira Administrator, and I wanted to share my experiences with this process here.
As we were uncertain exactly how much work was necessary to pass the Jira Certification exam, Coyote Creek budgeted 20 hours of preparation time, which I used in various ways to study over a two week period. Aside from the DMV’s written test, I hadn’t taken a test in almost 25 years, so my study habits were a bit rusty.
However, I have been working with Jira and Confluence since 2009, and felt like I understood what the job fundamentally entailed. In my previous role as a program manager and scrum master I gained an understanding of many of my user’s needs. In addition, my time as a Jira admin for Apple, Symantec and Agilent Technologies gave me deep understanding of how the tools can be used. So I figured I had a pretty solid foundation to start with.
But since I wanted to pass the test the first time I took it, I went to the internet to find out everything available on becoming the best admin I could. Here’s what I found…
How Atlassian can help you
As the use of Jira and Confluence continues to grow, so does the need for competent and experienced administrators. Atlassian has a vested interest in growing the number of skilled people using its tools, but it also wants to make sure people who say they are administrators are actually administrators. So they want to help, but only to a point.
That said, in my opinion the Jira Administration Certification Prep Course is fundamental to passing the test. The key component here is that the course outlines the more than 100 categories that are covered in the test, provides test questions to establish tone and context, and helps you understand just how the test is formatted.
The other main component to passing the test is really just reading the Jira Administrator’s Guide that’s online at Atlassian, pretty much “cover to cover.” While the course will give you context and direction, the Guide gives you the information you need. No one knows everything, but a lot of experienced admins (the target audience for the test) will know most things, and the documentation can both teach and refresh various topics. It is fundamentally the source for all of your studying.
How you can help yourself
If I only had the organization and focus as a college student that I have now, my grades would have been considerably better! But growing as a technology professional means being able to adapt to new technologies and learn new methodologies, so the first thing I did was put together a test plan.
I gave myself two weeks to study for the Jira Certification exam, and I tried to study one to two hours a day. Aside from a couple days of recovering from a stomach bug, I kept to the plan, which also included making flash cards any time I discovered something in reading the documentation that I had never used before. I kept the flash cards with me most days, reviewing new concepts at meals and between meetings.
The main part of my studying, then, was matching up the 100+ categories of study recommended by the course to their listing in the documentation. It wasn’t always straightforward, and some categories were vague in their problem statements, but overall I covered a lot of ground in my studying in a very organized and rudimentary way. I went through almost all the Jira administration documentation, from top to bottom, which I had never done before, learning new things and refreshing concepts and details I hadn’t used in years. It was a very educational experience, and one that every Jira admin should take on every few years.
What the test is really about
That exercise of walking through the documentation and refreshing and relearning is what I think Atlassian is really trying to get administrators to do. Maybe it’s less about the documentation, but the exercise is definitely about making sure that you’re covering all of the various levers a Jira admin can be expected to know how to pull (and configure for others to pull) when running a Jira instance.
There are a lot of very tiny details that an admin needs to know to pass the Jira Certification exam, but there are also some core, broad concepts. There are no trick questions, but there are trick answers written to make you pay attention. And the test covers enough ground in a limited time that you should really take the time to study for it and make sure you have done your homework.
It’s a test that checks to see if you’ve been paying attention to not only your specific job as an admin, but what the full role is. Because of this, you may have to learn things you’ve never used before. But when we learn more, and grow further into our role, we show how powerful the tools can be. Which is what being a Jira admin is truly about.
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