Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

IT Certification: Demand, Characteristics and Integration into Traditional University MIS Curriculum

Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

IT Certification: Demand, Characteristics and Integration into Traditional University MIS Curriculum

Article excerpt


The value of IT certification is a subject of debate. IT magazines suggest that certifications can provide opportunities for new positions, promotions or salary increases to existing employees. Research suggests that IT certification can boost a fresh graduate's profile to garner the attention of a hiring manager. Research also suggests that certification, education and experience are complimentary factors in the future job prospects of a candidate. For years, educators have been suggesting to include IT certifications in the traditional computing curricula of colleges and universities. However, due to a dearth of knowledge and commitment, faculty members have been reluctant to follow the suggested route. In this paper, we report the steps of integrating several IT certifications in the graduate MIS curriculum of a U.S. university over a period of six years. Certifications from the leading vendors such as Microsoft, Oracle, and Cisco were integrated into the programming, database, and networking courses. A Survey of past and present students suggests that almost all believe that IT certification can help them build a better career and they were prepared well for the certification exams. We recommend that educationists who have been faced with the dilemma of whether or not to adapt IT certifications in their computing curricula, should take the steps and do so. That will bring IT departments up to the par with IT industry standards.

Keywords: IT certification, IS curriculum, IT employment, IT skills, MIS curriculum.


There has been a tremendous growth and attention to professional IT Certifications in recent years. These can be attributed to two major factors: (i) competitive IT job market for fresh graduates and (ii) generation of new revenue by certification companies. With the decline of the IT job market and abundance of IT graduates, candidates are looking to boost their professional profiles with IT certifications. Existing IT personnel use them to bolster their professional growth and new graduates use them to outshine other potential job candidates (Hitchcock, 2007; Wireschen & Zhang, 2010). IT magazines, e.g., Computerworld, Certification, IT CareerFinder, NetworkWorld, and PC World, have been suggesting that IT certifications boost a candidate's profile to land a job, promotion or salary increase (Arora, 2012; Bort, 2011, Gabelhouse, 2002; Tittel, 2013). Research suggests that hiring managers utilize IT certifications to screen candidates from a large pool of applicants (Anderson, Barrett, & Schwager, 2005; Hunsinger & Smith, 2005, 2008; Robin, 2011). Getting certified is the best way to distinguish oneself from competing job candidates and prove the attainment of contemporary skills to hiring managers and prospective employers (ITCareerFinder, 2013). IT certification makes one stand apart, proves that skills are current, and provides higher salaries as well as gives respect and credibility among colleagues and employers. On the other hand, research on IT job postings suggests that only a small fraction of the advertised jobs require IT certification (Robin, 2011; Prabhakar, Litecky & Arnett, 2005; Lee & Lee, 2006).

IT companies such as Oracle, Microsoft and SAP created partnerships with educational institutions to gain loyalty to their products and technology by the instructors and future IT professionals. According to Microsoft, there are many benefits of IT certification for students: it validates proof of skills based on globally recognized standards, gives a competitive edge in the job market, sets individuals apart with the visual identity of certification and indicates that a candidate or employee is committed to the profession and the industry (Microsoft, 2013). In short, students can stand out, earn more, feel good and be productive. Faculty benefits for certification can include the following: aligning technical programs with required computing skills, and providing a reliable benchmark in addition to a college certification or degree. …

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