When I first set out to become a Stripe Certified Professional Implementation Architect, I had a lot of questions: What does the process entail? How much information do I need to learn? Will it be difficult?
Years have passed since I took any significant test, and a Google search to find other people’s experiences yielded little. So to help others out, I put together my top seven tips to pass the Implementation Architect Exam.
1. Understand the Online Payments Industry & Legalities
I had no idea how the payments industry worked when I first began studying for the exam. I initially thought Online Payments would be straightforward, but I was so wrong! As consumers, we often pay for things online with either a bank account or a credit card. We submit a payment for a transaction and expect goods or services to be delivered.
However, as technology gets more advanced, more and more options for online payments emerge. For instance, digital wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay and Buy Now / Pay Later Options are available. Other countries add even more types of payment options unavailable in the US.
Each payment goes through a banking institution on the customer’s end and works with the merchant’s banking institution to complete payment. And when you add in international borders, things become even more complicated.
What about things like Fraud? Disputes? How about laws that govern your privacy or government regulations? Consumers rarely think about the laws which protect them in the payments process, but following regulations is a critical part of accepting payments.
On Stripe’s Training portal, they have a series of courses where you can learn all about the basics of the online payments industry and all the legal issues to consider when looking into a payments processor.
2. Have a Deep Knowledge of Stripes Products & Their Edge Cases
In the Certified Architect Training, a series of courses review Stripe’s primary product offerings. In addition to the general eCommerce solutions offered for online payments, several other products are available:
- Customers can use Stripes Payment Intents API for customized solutions on their website and application. Or, they can utilize several prebuilt solutions to take payments immediately.
- Stripe Billing allows merchants to take recurring payments.
- Stripe Connect allows businesses to set up marketplaces where a merchant can allow their customers to get paid through a marketplace they operate. For instance, Lyft and Doordash utilize Stripe Connect which allows drivers to earn money for services provided to the consumers of their applications.
- Advanced Reporting and Reconciliation tools allow for insight into the larger picture of a business.
- Clients can also monitor for fraudulent activity with Stripe Radar.
Each of these solutions needs to address a unique set of questions to properly architect a solution for a Stripe client.
For example, Stripe Connect solutions are complex when merchants offer their marketplace in an international setting. How should these clients set up their bank accounts to incur the least amount of Stripe fees and cross-border fees? What legal issues need addressing when signing up a new customer to sell their services in the marketplace? What happens when someone asks for a refund when they buy from a business in another country?
The Stripe Training answers these types of questions. As a Stripe Implementation Architect, you’ll need to know when to ask these questions and the ins and outs of each product. And yes, tricky questions like these are 100% on the Exam.
3. Complete The Product Worksheets
Luckily, each Stripe product offering has a corresponding worksheet to aid in your studies. The worksheets are in a Product Workbook located in the Resource Library of the Stripe Training. The questions in the worksheets will refer to several places to find the answers:
- Stripe’s API Documentation
- Stripe Docs: Stripe’s online product documentation resource. You’ll find information regarding their product offerings, the online payments industry, and regulations.
- Stripe Dashboard: Create a test account and use the dashboard like a customer would when they implement payments for their own business.
I recommend you go through at least some of the questions. Get familiar with how to find the answers and how to use the dashboard. As an Implementation Architect, you’ll need to understand how the products work. The best practice for the exam uses the same tools you’d use to create a solution for a Stripe customer.
4. Understand How to Create an Implementation Plan
Stripe eliminated the requirement to create an Implementation Plan as part of the Stripe Certified Professional Implementation Architect certification. However, the usefulness of their example customer, Katz’s Deli, gives greater depth on how to use the course material to create an Implementation Plan. What questions do you need to ask? What issues could arise for particular product choices? What solutions work best for a customer’s given situation?
The example company in the training portal shows how an Implementation Plan comes together. You’ll gain deeper insight into what solutions work best for a given situation and what problems to address before you assume things and get too far into architecture implementation. The Katz’s Deli example will help you better understand Stripe’s offerings and give you even more knowledge to facilitate a smooth exam experience.
5. You Can Skip Some Pieces of the Training
The amount of course content contained in the training can lead to overwhelm, but the Training Portal contains some extras which you can skip: Office Hours, Workshops, and an End of Training Assessment.
Rest assured these items are optional. Office Hours are helpful if you need to take the Developer certification, but otherwise, there’s not much of a reason to attend since the elimination of the Implementation Plan requirement. Additionally, the Workshops to create an Implementation Plan are unnecessary. Furthermore, the End of Training Assessment doesn’t translate to the questions on the Implementation Architect Exam.
This doesn’t mean these items aren’t useful. I’d like to go back and take the workshops in my spare time to get more experience creating an implementation plan. These items simply aren’t required to pass the exam.
6. Understand How to Navigate Stripe Docs
During the exam, you will be recorded. You’ll need a webcam to ensure no cheating and they record the screen to verify you don’t refer to any external materials.
However, you do get to use Stripe Docs. The documentation gives the ins and outs of each Stripe product offering and information about how online payments work. Everything you’ve learned in the course will be somewhere in Stripe Docs. To do well, figure out how to search Stripe’s documentation. Keywords tend to be particular to the page you search. Synonyms don’t fly, so you must learn what wording is required. However, once you figure out how Stripe Docs works, you’ll be on your way to passing the exam.
P.S. Do be careful: sometimes Stripe Docs refers to external sources like YouTube, so be cautious of any links you follow in the documentation.
7. Have a Decent Grasp of Stripe APIs and Hooks
While you don’t need to write code for the Stripe Certified Architect exam, you do need to be familiar with critical APIs and hooks.
Say you have a customer who wants to send an email once a payment succeeds. We’d use a hook to complete this action, but which hook?
You can expect these types of questions on the exam. Stripe Docs includes the Stripe API reference, so you’ll have the answers at your fingertips if you know where to look.
So the answer to the question above? I’d look at the Stripe Payment Intents hooks and see the need to listen for the payment_intent.succeeded event.
Good Luck with the Exam!
Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare to take the Stripe Certified Professional Implementation Architect exam. With a decent dive into the Stripe-provided materials, you should be well on your way to a passing score.
You get three chances to pass, so if you fail the first time, you can go back and re-review any areas you need to study more.
Happy studying, and good luck!