Software Architects: Are You Losing Ground if You Are Not Credentialed?

As previously announced here, we at the SEI are planning a track on architecture certification at SATURN 2010, including a panel discussion with representatives from Siemens, the International Association of Software Architects (IASA), the SEI, and other organizations.

An example of the increasing demand for credentialed architecture expertise comes from the U.S. Army. In a memo signed by Lieutenant General N. Ross Thompson, principal military deputy for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology (Mil Dept of ASA [ALT]), on May 26, 2009, the U.S. Army mandated that all program executive offices (PEOs) appoint a chief software architect (CSWA) to be responsible for oversight and management of software development within each PEO. The memo also specified that the CSWA must earn a Software Architecture Professional Certificate from the SEI (or equivalent).

An article by R. Rivera, “Am I Doing Architecture or Design Work?” (IT Professional, Volume 9,  Issue 6,  Nov.-Dec. 2007 Page(s):46 – 48) discusses architecture certification at Hewlett-Packard Services and speculates that “Certification might become mandatory over time in the same way that Project Management Institute certification is expected for all HP Services program and project managers.”

A March 2009 article in Network World assessed the demand for certifications as follows:

CIOs are paying less for IT certifications than they did three years ago, but there are a few exceptions to this rule. One of them is IT architecture, which has seen a 10% rise in the value of certifications during the past year, the Foote report says.

Foote says companies are looking to hire enterprise architects as well as system, network, application, data, information and security architects. Among the certifications rising in value are EMC Proven Professional Technology Architect, Security Certified Network Architects, Microsoft Certified Architects, SNIA Certified Architects, and the Open Group’s IT Certified Architect.

Architecture certifications fall into two categories: internal, company-specific certifications and external, general certifications.

Examples of internal, company-specific certifications include

Anyone can earn external, general certifications if they go through the prescribed steps. Examples include

We are interested to hear from you about architecture certifications. What certification programs, internal or external, are you familiar with? How important are they in your organization? How do you tell which programs best measure an architect’s capabilities, or which ones are right for you and your organization? We welcome your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

– Bill Pollak, SEI


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