Friday, March 24, 2006

Certification of computer professionals

Computer programming has always been relatively unregulated and has effectively offered “free entry.” In some cases no college degree was required. Many other professions are regulated by state licenses. Early on, major employers like IBM and EDS tried to implement ideas of professionalism, particularly with strict dress codes, that loosened gradually over the years to the point that casual dress had become common even by the 1980s.

Today, software vendors offer a variety of certification exams. For hardware, the A+ certification is popular even with high school students, who sometimes can get jobs as computer technicians even while in high school. Some of the certification exams are strenuous, such as Sun’s java certification tests, which include both multiple choice covering all language capabilities and require a short development project that is uploaded. There has always been a tendency for software programmers to master only what they need on a specific job, where as certification requires systematic mastery of all material.

Some companies, such as Brainbench, offer a wide list of certification exams in a large number of topics. Some headhunter and recruiting firms use Brainbench exams to test applicants for consulting positions. Software certification can help restore a sense of an applicant’s professionalism among employers.

The Institute for the Certification of Computer Professionals has offered relatively generic multiple choice examinations in a number of areas and languages for many years. Certification can be continued with education credits.

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