Computer Science, Product and Vendor Certifications
Job ads for computer scientists often list many very specific skills, many of them related to technology, some related to project management. Certifications are one way that people demonstrate their skills in these areas.
Computer science is different than a lot of professions in that there’s not one preferred certification. There are some certifications, though, that many highly skilled, highly compensated professionals have. The list of best paying credentials include several by Microsoft and Cisco.
The Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) are also well respected.
IEEE certifications are appropriate for those who work in applications development and have knowledge of the software lifecycle. A number of companies list IEEE credentials as preferred or required. There are two levels of certification: associate and professional.
One doesn’t need a lot in the way of education or experience to take the Certified Software Development Associate exam – this can be accomplished as early as the final year of the degree program. In order to take the Certified Software Development Professional exam, a person will need some work experience, either two years or four years, depending on their educational level.
Cisco is a big name in systems software engineering. Cisco certifications are typically comprehensive; they often require candidates to pass several exams. There are entry-level certifications, associate certifications, and professional certifications (which require more advanced knowledge). There are also expert level certifications, which bring a rigorous hands-on component into the testing process. The expert certifications, unlike the professional ones, do not have formal prerequisite requirements – but candidates should be aware that a lot of experience is typically required to pass the lab exam!
The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) credential is appropriate for systems engineers. It shows that a professional is adept at working on local and wide-area networks. This includes ability to work collaboratively with specialists in security, wireless, and voice technology. It requires at least a year of work experience; it is only open to candidates who have earned one of several related certifications. A related entry-level certification is Cisco Certified Network Associate.
The CCNP Security credential is designed for security engineers. It replaces the very popular Cisco Certified Security Professional credential, which was retired in late 2011. (Professionals with the CCSP credential had been among the highest compensated, according to ZDNET Tech Republic.)
Developers or engineers who have professional level certification must re-certify every three years.
Microsoft issues several popular certifications for developers who work with Microsoft products. The Microsoft Certified Professional Developer credential is for developers who use Microsoft.NET and Visual Studio. It’s intended for those with a couple years of experience, and requires passing scores on several different exams; the exact requirements depend on one’s specialty (Windows, Windows Azure, or web).
Periodically, Microsoft changes its certification options. Professionals may choose to maintain an older certification or upgrade to the latest (a bit like the people who buy the software). The MCPD credential is for a similar group of professionals as the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer credential was. (This was another credential that was often earned by elite and well paid professionals.)
Other Computer Science Certifications
The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium certifies security professionals. Many employers look very favorably at the Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional credential. It may be listed as a preferred certification for test engineer, risk application engineer, and other related positions.
For those who are experts not just in the technical aspects of software development, but in managing people and projects, certification through the Project Management Institute can be a career builder. Some employers look for PMI certified professionals for lead roles in managing software development projects.
The International Software Certification Board also certifies professionals in several computer-related fields, including quality assurance, process engineering, and software testing. There are multiple levels of certification.