Professional certification (computer technology)

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Professional certifications in computer technology are non-degree awards made to those who have achieved qualifications specified by a certifying authority. Depending on the particular certification, qualifications may include completing a course of study, proof of professional accomplishments, achieving a specified grade on an examination. The intention is to establish that an individual holding a certification is technically qualified to hold certain types of position within the field.

Certifications, generally, need to be renewed periodically, or may be valid for a specific period (e.g. the lifetime of the product upon which the individual is certified). As a part of a complete renewal of an individual's certification, it is common for the individual to show evidence of continual learning — often termed continuing education — or earning continuing education units (CEU). Certification is often used in the professions of information technology industry.

Some certification programs are oriented toward specific technologies, and are managed by the vendors of these technologies. These certification programs are tailored to the institutions that would employ people who use these technologies.

Vendor-specific certifications[edit]

Third-party and vendor-neutral certifications[edit]

Third-party commercial organizations, trade associations, and vendor-neutral interest groups that sponsor certifications include:

General certification[edit]

General certification of software practitioners has struggled. The ACM had a professional certification program in the early 1980s, which was discontinued due to lack of interest. Today, the IEEE is certifying software professionals, but only about 500 people have passed the exam by March 2005.

Information systems security[edit]

In an information systems environment that requires formal security accreditation, Certification refers to the comprehensive evaluation of the technical and non-technical security features of an information system.

Certification is formally defined by Krutz and Vines as:

Software testing[edit]


The current proliferation of IT certifications (both offered and attained)[citation needed] has led some technologists to question their value. Advanced training content that has been distributed on the Internet allows some to gain credentials without the implied depth or breadth of expertise beyond the certification material. Certifying agencies have responded in various ways: some now incorporate hands-on elements, anti-cheating methodologies or have expanded their content. Others have expired and restructured their certificate programs, and/or raised their fees to deter abuse.


Research on college students and high school students has been done to determine whether relevant Information Technology industry certification is an asset to the teaching profession as they appear to be in the business world.[15][16]

The studies investigated CIS/IT student perceptions and outcomes of certified and non-certified instructors. As observed by Adelman, many post-secondary CIS/IT faculty were unconcerned about the emergence in the 1990s of “a new, parallel universe of postsecondary credentials”, Anderson and Reimers found that CIS/IT students were keenly aware if their instructors had them. For example, certain certifications DOD 8570.1M are the only commercial certifications that the Department of Defense will accept towards meeting their Information Assurance hiring requirements.

The studies found a significant difference in learning outcomes between technology courses taught by certified and non-certified instructors; students whose instructors held IT industry certifications had higher levels of achievement than their non-certified peers and that college undergraduate students showed a significantly greater perception of their instructor’s effectiveness, teaching skills, professor technical expertise, and their own engagement in their classes with certified professors. Randall & Zirrkle (2005) noted a distinction between high school students and college students result benefit and the type of certification (vendor neutral and vendor-specific).

IT Certifications are considered as a standard of IT knowledge by most of the giant technology companies around the world. Best knowledge of up to date technologies is ensured by continuously updating the versions of certifications by the specific vendors.[17][18]

Workforce development[edit]

Professional computer technology certification can open doors to opportunity in employment and career development, and certainly where people seek computer technology positions with well recognized certifications such as CompTIA A+ or Network+.[19] Certification per se, though, can only be a first step.

Professional certification on paper alone is never sufficient for developing or proving professional level expertise and must be followed through upon with hands-on professional, on the job experience. Certification can help open doors in achieving a position that offers that hands on experience but it is primarily a starting point even if a valuable one.[20]

Professional certification as such offers significant value for people making career changes into computer technology, and for people who seek to enter the professional workforce with long term career potential, from underserved communities. A number of organizations (e.g. Per Scholas in the South Bronx and Miami, Florida) work with communities in need and with a specific goal of helping community members achieve professional certifications as a route into professional jobs that can lead to building viable careers.

DoD Directive 8570.1 and DoD Directive 8140[edit]

The U.S. Department of Defense Directive 8570.1, signed in August 2004, requires every full- and part-time military service member, defense contractor, civilian and foreign employee with privileged access to a DoD system, regardless of job series or occupational specialty, to obtain a commercial certification credential that has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). 8570.1 established certification requirements in 3 levels: Level I, II, and III was categorized into IAM - Information Assurance Management and IAT - Information Assurance Technician. Since its implementation the IT enterprise landscape has changed dramatically with the implementation of mobility, cloud computing, and cybersecurity areas of increased emphasis.

As a result, the NICE - National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education was established to form the NICCS portal - National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies. This initiative was a public/private collaboration and resulted in the publishing of The Framework 1.0. Since the initial framework has established it has been enhanced and published as The Framework 2.0 and has morphed into the DoD 8140 Directive which is anticipated to be in full implementation by December 2015. This framework breaks down into seven (7) categories and establishes 31 KSA's (Key Specialty Areas), which fundamentally are silos within the IT landscape.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Certification and Learning
  2. ^ IBM
  3. ^ MySQL
  4. ^ Pegasystems
  5. ^ SAP
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ By Shamus McGuillicuddy, "SolarWinds offers network management training and certification." June 24, 2009. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
  8. ^ VMware
  9. ^ "Certification programmes". European Information Technologies Certification Institute (EITCI). 
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ IET
  12. ^ APICS
  13. ^ ITCP
  14. ^ "Australian Computer Society - Home". 2012-09-26. Retrieved 2013-03-31. 
  15. ^ Anderson, D. (2009), Information Technology Industry Certification’s Impact on Undergraduate Student Perception of Instructor Effectiveness., UMI Dissertation Publishing Group, Volume 7005A. Publication No. 3358241 
  16. ^ Reimers, K. (2009), Impact of Information Technology (IT) Industry Certification on the Achievement of High School Students Enrolled in Technology Courses 
  17. ^ Hunsinger, S. & Smith, M.(2008) Factors that Influence Information Systems. Journal of Information Technology Education Undergraduates to Pursue IT Certification
  18. ^ Randall, M. & Zirkle, C. (2005). Information technology student-based certification in formal education settings: Who benefits and what is needed. Journal of Information Technology Education, 4, 287-306. Retrieved from[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Career Paths for the CompTIA A+ Certified Technician". Retrieved 2017-11-03. 
  20. ^ "A+ Certification Leads to an A+ Career Path". Retrieved 2017-11-03.