As software engineering evolves, certifications must cover the latest trends in technology if professionals are to stay ahead of the curve. That’s why the IEEE Computer Society has made several changes to its professional education program, including adding new certificates and changing its exam format to assess how well programmers apply their skills in real-world situations.
The society is now offering 12 certificates in proficiency designed to assess and validate knowledge in a specific topic within software engineering. Each certificate covers a key area from the Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK Guide), the manual that spells out what will be included in Computer Society certification exams. These areas include software design, testing, quality assurance, and maintenance.
“Since many different skills are required to be an adept software engineer, we decided to award certificates that highlight specific competencies,” says John Keppler, the Computer Society’s senior manager for certifications and professional education. “This helps employers to identify strengths and weaknesses in their teams, and it helps software engineers to hone in on what skills they still need to develop.”
The society also worked with VMEdu, an international professional education and certification company, to develop and offer Scrum certifications, a practical approach for managing complex software and product development projects. In March, the society began offering three Scrum certificates of proficiency: Scrum Developer for entry-level engineers, Scrum Product Owner for practitioners who focus mainly on the business end of a product, and Agile Expert for those planning product development workflows. The society also launched a Professional Scrum certification, which provides a broad assessment for more experienced practitioners.
The program also includes three new professional competency certificates. These are Professional Software Developer, for software engineers who have established a career in software development; Professional Software Engineering Process Master, which assesses all key knowledge areas defined in the SWEBOK Guide; and Professional Software Engineering Master, which covers all of the key areas and requires two advanced applied modules focused on software development skills.
Software engineers can also pursue one of the society’s certificates of achievement. Candidates earn these by completing a self-paced professional development e-learning course and passing an online assessment, which can be taken multiple times if necessary. Topics include software security, high-performance computing, and the cloud.
IN THE REAL WORLD
To earn a certificate of proficiency or achievement, candidates can register and schedule an online assessment at their convenience. There are no prerequisites to register for any of these credentials and the available review courses are not required to take the exam. To earn a professional competency certificate, however, candidates must successfully complete a timed and proctored online exam. The professional certification exams now include actual hands-on exercises that software developers would perform on the job, according to Keppler.
These new applied certification exams were developed by Proxor, a subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. They present software developers with a realistic programming environment. Test takers are given a code base, a program editor, reference materials, and other resources. Then they are given tasks they’re likely to be given by an employer, such as writing code, debugging software, and maintaining software without damaging it.
“These exams actually assess what a programmer can really do, not just what they can memorize,” Keppler says.
To learn more about these new certificates and certifications as well as the resources the society offers to help prepare for exams, visit its Professional Education Web page.