Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Preparing Undergraduate Students for IT Certification

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Preparing Undergraduate Students for IT Certification

Article excerpt

Introduction

Certification establishes a standard of competency in specific area and job roles (Montante & Khan, 2001). This helps industry to determine that employees meet the required credentials for different jobs roles thus requiring less training during the initial employment period. Hence, some job criteria require individuals to be certified in order to be considered for employment. To the certified individual, certification provides a greater sense of confidence in their abilities and a measure of professional expertise and understanding of the job role and products used in that role. It is for these reasons that certification is be coming increasingly popular and in high demand. Many training companies are providing certification-training classes at high costs all across the globe. Unlike traditional academic degrees, some certificates are specific to narrow fields or even to individual products. The aim is to provide targeted skills that have immediate applicability in the workplace.

Cisco, Microsoft, Sun, Novel, Oracle, and other vendors offer certification programs for their own products and related job roles. Third-party companies around the world provide certificate-training classes for these vendors and, increasingly, offer certifications of their own that are venders neutral. Academic institutions, from vocational and technical schools to large universities, are beginning to provide similar training in their curricula to prepare students for certification in special areas (Peterson, Morneau, & Saad, 2003). This paper presents ideas for making changes to the existing IS curricula so that courses would help students prepare for certifications in areas such as Networks, Java programming, Hardware and Software, and Internet Technology.

Certification Consensus

There appears to be a consensus in the community about the importance of certification (Tripp, 2002; Cantor, 2002). In a 2001 IEEE Computer Society survey of software engineering professionals, more than 70% of the respondents agreed that certification would fill a need for improving the software engineering profession and that a software engineering certification program could be used to improve the engineering workforce. More than 67% agreed that certification helps assess an individual's software engineering knowledge and skills. While the role of certification is primarily for the public benefit, individual practitioners may also benefit. The participants in this survey were given a list of eight possible benefits of certification and asked to pick up to three that would best describe the benefits to an individual software engineering practitioner. More than 80% of respondents felt that certification provides recognized evidence of professional capability. Two-thirds felt that certification helps assess an individual's software engineering knowledge and skills, while 44 percent felt that it leads to greater professional recognition. Individuals may also seek certification for personal benefits such as increased opportunity for upward mobility, better ability to compete in the job market, and increased professional credibility, although these benefits were much lower rated by respondents.

In the same survey, respondents identified the benefits of certification to an employer hiring a practitioner. The highest ranking was given to the statement that certification provides confidence in a standard set of knowledge areas with which the individual will be familiar. Employers may also view certification as a means for improving job performance and rewarding employees. Employers may also find that training certified employees take less time. Although the survey targeted software engineering certification the same argument is true for any other IT certification.

Motivation to Include IT Certification in IS Curricula

Certification can be defined as an indicator or confirmation of a person's adequate knowledge and skills in a specified occupation or a particular specialty in that occupation. …

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