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.
Alcatel-Lucent sponsors the Service Routing Certification program
Apple Inc. sponsors the Apple certification program
ARM Holdings sponsors the ARM Accredited Engineer program
Avaya sponsors the Avaya Professional Credential Program
Cisco Systems sponsors the Cisco Career Certifications program
Brocade Communications Systems sponsors the Brocade Certification and Accreditation program
Citrix Systems sponsors the Citrix Certified Administrator program
Cyberoam sponsors the Cyberoam Security certifications program
Hewlett-Packard sponsors the HP ExpertONE certification program
Dell sponsors the Dell Certified Systems Expert program with Associate and Master levels
EMC sponsors the EMC Proven Professional certification program
F5 sponsors the F5 Certification program
Google sponsors the Google Apps Certification program
IBM sponsors certifications
ISIS Papyrus sponsors the Papyrus Certified Professionals Program
Juniper Networks sponsors the Juniper Networks Technical Certification Program
LANDesk sponsors the Certified LANDesk Administrator and Certified LANDesk Engineer program
Microsoft Corporation sponsors the Microsoft Certified Professional program
MySQL (as part of Oracle now) sponsors a certification program
National Instruments offers certifications in LabVIEW, TestStand, and LabWindows/CVI software
Nortel sponsors the Nortel Certifications program
Novell sponsors a certification program
Object Management Group sponsors the Certified Professional program for the Unified Modeling Language
Oracle Corporation sponsors the Oracle Certification Program
Pegasystems sponsors the Pegasystems Certification Program
Red Hat sponsors the Red Hat Certification Program
SAP sponsors individual training and certifications
SAS sponsors a certification program
SolarWinds sponsors the Solarwinds Certified Professional for network management
SpringSource sponsors the SpringSource Certified Professional program
Sun Microsystems sponsors the Sun Certified Professional program (now part of the Oracle Certification Program)
Sybase sponsors the Certified Sybase Professional program
VMware sponsors certification programs (VCP, VCAP, & VCDX)
Zend Technologies sponsors the Zend Certified Engineer (PHP) program
Third-party commercial organizations, trade associations, and vendor-neutral interest groups that sponsor certifications include:Certiport sponsors the Microsoft Office Specialist and IC3 certification (Internet and Computing Core).
CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) CompTIA offers 12 professional IT Certifications, validating foundation-level IT knowledge and skills.
The Document Foundation provides for LibreOffice developers and support providers.
ECDL Foundation sponsors the European Computer Driving Licence (also called International Computer Driving Licence) (ICDL)
EITCI Institute operates the European Information Technologies Certification (EITC) and European Information Technologies Certification Academy (EITCA) programmes.
EMC 'Open' type certifications in EMC Proven Professional certification program are vendor-neutral
Electronics Technicians Association (ETA International) ETA offers 4 IT certifications: Computer Service Technician (CST); Network Computer Technician (NCT); Network Systems Technician (NST); and Wireless Networking Technician (WNT).
International Information and Communication Technology Council Certification Program
(ISC)² sponsors the CISSP, SSCP and other security certifications
Learning Tree International sponsors Learning Tree Professional Certification
Linux Professional Institute sponsors LPIC with three levels plus an introductory (Essentials) certification.
Majinate sponsors the Accredited Symbian Developer scheme for Symbian OS
Metro Ethernet Forum operates the MEF Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional(MEF-CECP) certification designed for telecommunication professionals seeking to validate their expertise, skills and knowledge of Carrier Ethernet technologies, standards, services and applications.
Network Professional Association offers the Certified Network Professional program
Planet3 Wireless sponsors the Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) certification
RackSpace CloudU Certification by RackSpace
SAGE (organization) sponsors the cSAGE program
SANS Institute operates the Global Information Assurance Certification programmer Airod
TestOut Corporation offers 100 percent performance-based "Pro" Certifications for entry level IT support positions, which assess skills and real-world abilities through simulations.
The Open Group sponsors TOGAF certification and the IT Architect Certification (ITAC) and IT Specialist Certification (ITSC) skills and experience based IT certifications.
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.The IEEE Computer Society sponsors the Certified Software Development Professional as well as membership designations, "Senior" and "Fellow" which reflect experience and peer review qualification.
The IET sponsors the Chartered Engineer and Incorporated Engineer, which can be ratified into the European Engineer
The BCS sponsors the Chartered IT Professional (CITP) programme.
The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals sponsors the Certified Computing Professional (CCP) and Associate Computing Professional (ACP) certifications
The BDPA IT Institute sponsors the BDPA IT Associate (BITA), the BDPA IT Professional (BITP), and the BDPA IT Master (BITM) certifications
The Canadian Information Processing Society sponsors the Information Systems Professional (ISP) and Information Technology Certified Professional (ITCP) in Canada.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants sponsors the Certified Information Technology Professional program.
APICS establishes operations management standards and sponsors certification for Logistics
The New Zealand Computer Society sponsors the Information Technology Certified Professional programme
The Australian Computer Society offers pathways to Certified Professional (CP) and Certified Technologist (CT) designation.
The Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists sponsors the Certified Engineering Technologist or Professional Technologist Information Technology or Electronics (Computer) Technology profiles.
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:British Computer Society
National Software Testing Laboratories
American Society for Quality#Certifications
International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB)
The current proliferation of IT certifications (both offered and attained) 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.
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.
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+. 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.
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.
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.