Certification Programs Aimed at Wireless and Software Engineers

Two IEEE societies develop new certification programs and make improvements to an existing one

7 May 2008

Two IEEE societies are helping wireless-communications and software engineers demonstrate their skill and proficiency in the workplace with two new certification programs and improvements to an existing one.

All three programs are vendor-neutral and transnational in scope. Each one consists of a variety of self-study aids such as reference books, practice tests, and online courses to assist in exam preparation. Those who are interested in becoming IEEE-certified study at their own pace and then complete a two-part process to be able to sit for the exam, which is administered through Prometric, a global provider of test and assessment services.

All candidates must complete an application form. The application process verifies that the applicant has met the criteria and qualifies to take the exam. Once approved, applicants receive a letter that contains a candidate identification number, which allows them to register via Prometric’s Web site and choose a location and date convenient for them to take the exam. Prometric’s 500-plus testing centers are located in more than 70 countries.

Candidates sit at a computer terminal to take the exam and have up to four hours to complete it. The wireless exam poses 165 questions; the two software exams consist of 180 questions each.

GROWING DEMAND Rapid growth in wireless communications has created a need for communications professionals. But what must they know? A standard baseline of knowledge—or a test to certify a communication expert’s practical knowledge—did not exist until March, when the IEEE Communications Society launched its Wireless Communication Engineering Technologies (WCET) certification program. It’s aimed at engineers who already hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have about three years of experience.

More than 100 industry experts from different wireless industry sectors helped develop the program and the exam that goes with it. Areas the exam covers include radio-frequency engineering, propagation, and antennas; access technologies; network and service architecture; network management and security; facilities infrastructure; licensing agreements; industry standards and policies; and government regulations. The Communications Society developed a handbook to help candidates understand eligibility requirements, as well as how to apply, study, and take the exam. Visit http://www.comsoc.org/bin/wcet/request1.html to request a free copy. Next month, a book and two practice exams will be available for sale to assist with preparation for the exam, the society says.

“We anticipate that the WCET certification program will become the standard that organizations will use to develop curricula for wireless communications training,” says IEEE Member Rolf Frantz, the program’s industry relations manager and a communications industry veteran.

The first testing period is between 22 September and 10 October, with the next period slated for March. The cost of the exam is US $450 for IEEE members and $500 for non-members. To learn more about WCET certification and application deadlines, visit http://www.ieee-wcet.org.

SOFTWARE TESTS Similarly, it was desirable to have an industry-wide yardstick to measure the skills of those entering the software field. The IEEE Computer Society plans to roll out its IEEE Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA) program on 12 May during the society’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The CSDA program is targeted at students in their final year of study for a bachelor’s or equivalent degree in a computing-related field, and to software developers and engineers who are within three years of having graduated with a four-year degree in computer science or software engineering. CSDA certification is based on the Computer Society’s The Guide to Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK) and Software Engineering 2004: Curriculum Guidelines for Undergraduate Degree Programs in Software Engineering. The guidelines can be downloaded at http://www.computer.org.

The exam tests knowledge of the foundations of computer science, mathematics, and engineering. It covers core software engineering principles including software construction, design, testing, requirements, and methods.

Applications are being accepted for the current test window, which runs through 11 July. The next test window is scheduled for 18 August to 12 December.

The cost in North America is $450. To request a price quote for other parts of the world, e-mail the Computer Society: csda@computer.org.

PROGRAM IMPROVEMENTS Through a partnership with ITPG, the Computer Society is also making improvements to its IEEE Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP) program, which is designed for midcareer software professionals. A global player in the development and delivery of professional education and certification programs, ITPG is taking several steps to enhance the visibility of the program. It is marketing the e-learning course, Software Engineering Overview: Preparing for the IEEE Computer Society CSDP Examination, and promoting CSDP to its global contacts. In addition, the company is helping the Computer Society build strategic relationships with industry and government, in the hope that they will encourage their employees to take the exam. ITPG also plans to staff a call center to answer general inquiries from applicants.

The CSDP program covers a broad range of topics included in the SWEBOK. To be eligible to take the exam, candidates are required to have 9000 hours of experience in at least six of the 11 technical areas the exam covers, coupled with a bachelor’s or equivalent degree. In addition to the e-learning course, other exam preparation materials include several books, a workbook, and recommended references.

Applications are being accepted for the next test windows, which cover the same periods as those for the CSDA exam. The application fee is $100, plus an exam fee of $350 for IEEE or IEEE Computer Society members, $450 for non-members. For more information about the CSDA or CSDP, visit http://www.computer.org/certification.

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