IEEE Software Certification Meets New Standard

IEEE Computer Society two levels of software certification meets new qualifications

8 January 2009

The IEEE Computer Society’s two levels of software certifications are the first credentials to conform to a new international standard developed to boost global acceptance of certification for software engineers. The society’s Certified Software Development Professional and Certified Software Development Associate programs comply with ISO/IEC 24773:2008, Software Engineering–Certification of Software Engineering Professionals–Comparison Framework, released in September.

Currently, countries and organizations use different criteria for certification. The standard, created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission, compared ways of certifying engineers to provide common guidelines and to ensure that the certifications are portable from one region to another. The portability factor is important because, with today’s trend toward globalization, software professionals are likely to work in different countries during the course of their careers.

Introduced in 2002, the IEEE CSDP credential is intended for midcareer software development practitioners. It confirms their professional experience and competency. The IEEE CSDA credential, introduced last year, is for those at an entry level.

The ISO/IEC 24773 standard uses the IEEE Computer Society’s Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK) as its description of the profession. The guide is “the benchmark for defining and comparing certifications in software engineering,” says Jim Moore, 2008 chair of the society’s Professional Practices Committee, the group that oversees the certification programs.

All certifications conforming to the new standard must use the 2005 SWEBOK guide, which identifies and describes what a software engineer is expected to know, says Stephen Seidman, 2008 vice president of the society’s educational activities.

It’s expected that the standard will be used by academia to map the structure of software courses against educational requirements, and to develop new courses. National certification and examination bodies can use ISO/IEC 24773 to develop programs of their own. Governments can apply the standard to develop policy, assess skills, set rules for software professionals, and help with facilitating international trade agreements that involve software.

GETTING CERTIFIED For more information about the CSDA and CSDP exams, including eligibility requirements, fees, and guidelines for registration and preparation, visit http://www.computer.org/csda or http://www.computer.org/csdp.

Applications are now being accepted for the current test window, which runs through 11 July. The next test window is scheduled for 12 July to 12 December. Prometric, a global provider of testing and assessment services, administers the exam. The application process verifies that the applicant has met the criteria and qualifies to take the exam. Once approved, candidates receive an “authorization to test” letter, which contains an identification number. That number allows the candidate to register through Prometric’s Web site or one of its call centers and to select a testing location and date.

For more information about the IEEE Computer Society’s certification programs visit http://www.computer.org/getcertified.

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