Chidi Okwudire IT Professional. ERP Enthusiast. NetSuite Certified (Administrator, SuiteCloud Developer II, and ERP Consultant). Celigo Certified (Level 4+). Passionate About Empowerment Through Knowledge Sharing. Always Eager to Learn.

Certification Insight #2: When is the best time to get certified?

3 min read

Last updated on March 6, 2023.

Time is an illusion – timing is art.”

Stefan Emunds

When should you get NetSuite certified?

In part 1, we focused on figuring out “why” you (not anyone else) want to get certified. Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to reflect on that. In this article, we address the next question: When is the best time to get certified? The straightforward yet not-so-straightforward answer is: It really depends. Let’s unpack that.

Imagine your NetSuite career as a staircase… Do you get certified at the base (i.e., the start of your career), sometime midway up, or around the peak? To add to that, there are multiple certifications that you might be interested in. Should you take them all at once, in close succession, or spread them out over months or years?

Several factors come into play in making such decisions like availability of funds, career goals and opportunities, job requirements, general experience, your “why”, etc.

Consider Alice who’s been working for several years with another ERP system. She recently got a job as a NetSuite consultant and would like to get certified. Although her NetSuite career is just starting, she already has a lot of relevant knowledge and experience with ERP systems which means that it might make sense for her to get certified right away.

George, on the other hand, is also new to the NetSuite space. As a non-developer turned NetSuite developer, he’s still trying to wrap his head around JavaScript and SuiteScript. He’s heard of certification and thinks it’s a good idea. However, attempting to get certified while still trying to grasp basic programming and ERP concepts would clearly be an uphill if not a herculean task for him at that stage.

How to Assess Your Readiness

The good news is that you don’t have to make the call completely based on your gut feeling! Here are two simple ways to assess whether this is the right time for you to work towards a particular NetSuite certification:

  1. Review NetSuite’s description of a qualified candidate.
  2. Take the Sample Exam.

1. Review the Official Description of a Qualified Candidate

For each certification on the NetSuite certification website, a description is provided of a qualified candidate. This gives you a high-level indication of what milestones you should have reached in your NetSuite career before considering getting a particular certification. So if you’re not sure you’re there yet, take a look at the recommendations.

Of course, meeting those recommendations does not guarantee that you will pass the exam and vice versa. In fact, our survey results indicate that several successful candidates did not meet all the recommendations at the time they got certified. However, the farther away you are from the recommended level, the harder your trajectory to success is likely to be.

2. Take the Sample Exam (Twice)

For each certification on the NetSuite certification website, there’s also a link to a sample exam. That’s a good way to assess your readiness. I recommend taking the test once before you start preparing to get a baseline score, and then taking it again closer to your target exam date for a final self-assessment.

Although NetSuite does not publish the actual exam pass marks, my personal rule of thumb is: If your score is less than 30% the first time you take the sample test, you’re probably considering that certification too early. Think of it this way: 30% suggests you know top-of-mind only about 30% of what a qualified candidate should know. Will you consider yourself qualified with such a score, even if you managed to pass the exam? If you still proceed with pursuing the certification, be prepared to put in much more hours and likely end up memorizing a bunch of stuff because it’s not yet natural to you. On the other hand, if you score 40 – 50% (or higher) on that first self-assessment, it is indicative that with proper preparation, you should end up at least in the 70 – 80% range before your exam, which I believe is a great place to be.

Although NetSuite does not publish pass marks, here's my rule of thumb for interpreting your sample test results: <30% – not ready; 40-50% – success is possible with significant work, >50% – timing is good. Click To Tweet

Let me remind you that these are my personal guidelines based on my intuition and experience. Adjust the percentages to what makes sense to you. Also, when taking the sample exam, be sure to time yourself in order to get a representative result.

For your convenience, here are the links to the sample tests as of March 2022. Note that NetSuite may revise these at any time so visit the certification website for up-to-date information,

  • NetSuite SuiteFoundation Exam (80 minutes for ~65 multiple-choice questions)
  • NetSuite Administrator Exam (90 minutes for ~60 multiple-choice questions)
  • NetSuite ERP Consultant Exam (120 minutes)
  • NetSuite SuiteCloud Developer II Exam (120 minutes): (retired in February 2023)
  • NetSuite Application Developer Exam (90 minutes for ~60 multiple-choice questions)
  • NetSuite Web Services Developer Exam (90 minutes for ~45 multiple-choice questions)
  • SuiteAnalytics User Exam (60 minutes for ~30 multiple-choice and matching questions)
  • Financial User Exam (60 minutes)

If based on the above two checks, you feel that you’re in good shape to get a particular NetSuite certification, I still strongly suggest that you go through this entire series (links below) because I believe that the insights we’ll share and the results of the survey will be useful in your decision.

The Irony

As an aside, for the past few months, I’ve been monitoring posts on LinkedIn celebrating NetSuite certification. Ironically, there seems to be a strong push from within NetSuite to get their new consultants certified as fast as possible. I’ve seen folks celebrating bagging all certifications (i.e., becoming “certiFIVEd” in less than one year of first exposure to NetSuite); we dig deeper into this notion of becoming “certFIVEd” in a separate article. In a sense, NetSuite seems not to be playing by their own rules internally by encouraging potentially unqualified candidates (as per their own guidelines) to quickly get certified. This obviously has the possible long-term effect of watering down their not-so-great certification program even further. But that does not mean you should do the same. Certification is not about passing an exam, it’s about attaining a particular level of expertise. Take your time; it’s not a sprint or competition!

The insights in this article represent the views of the author, who, by the way, holds multiple NetSuite certifications. However, the perpetual certification survey that’s been running since January 2021 reflects the collective thinking of the community on the subject matter.

Our hope is that the combination of both resources will provide you with a balanced view. Take the certification survey today! Once completed, you’ll unlock the anonymized aggregated survey results with nice charts and stats. Alternatively, you can subscribe to our NetSuite Insights newsletter using this link to gain immediate access to the survey results and email notifications when we publish new insights.

Other Articles in the NetSuite Certification Series

Chidi Okwudire IT Professional. ERP Enthusiast. NetSuite Certified (Administrator, SuiteCloud Developer II, and ERP Consultant). Celigo Certified (Level 4+). Passionate About Empowerment Through Knowledge Sharing. Always Eager to Learn.

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