Insights

10.09.2020

Software architecture certification according to iSAQB

 

If software developers and software architects want to play an attractive role in the job market in the long term, they should keep their specialist knowledge up to date. In-depth knowledge of common software technologies and frameworks are at least as relevant as methodological skills. With further training in software architecture, developers and architects can have more influence on the well-being of their systems. With the CPSA (Certified Professional for Software Architecture) you support your software architecture career optimally!

Certified Professional for Software Architecture (CPSA) is the root of all certificates that are legally protected by iSAQB e.V. You can acquire the certificates by successfully passing the respective certification exams. The CPSA is currently available in two levels, CPSA-F (Foundation) and CPSA-A (Advanced). An Expert Level is planned as a third level for the future. Every year around 2,700 software developers take the multiple choice examination for the CPSA-F. To date, over 16,500 people worldwide (most of them come from Europe) have received the software architecture certificate.

 

Why is software architecture certification useful?

If the profession of software architect is to be officially recognized in Switzerland, uniform standards for professional software architecture training must definitely be established. The iSAQB has set itself this important goal and focuses on the definition of suitable examination procedures and curricula in order to be able to confirm the knowledge acquired by the examinees with the CPSA software architecture certification.

 

What is the significance of the CPSA?

A certificate proves in writing that the owner has invested a lot of effort and dealt with the topic in detail. Each CPSA certificate from the iSAQB confirms in writing that the holders have certain knowledge at the time of the examination. Such a certificate says nothing about personal characteristics such as skills or motivation. According to the curriculum, the CPSA-F certifies the owners the ability to design and document an appropriate software architecture for medium-sized systems in a team.

The anonymized evaluations clearly show that the CPSA-F test results match the personal experience in software architecture development projects as a software developer or software architect. Candidates with more experience usually achieve a higher number of points.

The CPSA-A requirement is significantly higher than the Foundation Level. An advanced software architect ensures that medium-sized to large IT systems run technically and methodologically flawlessly. How this works exactly and which properties are required are described below:

In principle, we at the iSAQB are critical of every certification, because this is by no means a kind of carte blanche for productive work or for better decisions. Regardless of this, we recognize the advantages that result from a uniform software architecture job description. With the help of our in-depth training and further education, we want to establish this uniform professional profile.

CPSA-A - The elevator pitch

In the advanced level training, all participants can put together their individual training path from several individual training courses in modular form. In every iSAQB training, participants receive CPs (credit points) in the various competency areas of communication (soft skills), methodology and technology.

After the Advanced Level participants have achieved at least 70 CPs (at least 10 in each competence area), they register with the responsible certification body for the written thesis. This work requires around 40 hours of processing and is objectively assessed by 2 independent experts. Afterwards, the participants have to defend their thesis in a telephone interview. Only in the event of a successful defense will you receive a certificate from the iSAQB of successful software architecture certification.

 

What are the requirements?

The best thing to do is to take a small step back first and look at the Advanced Level requirements. Participants must have worked full-time in the IT industry for at least 3 years and successfully completed the Foundation Level (CPSA-F). In addition, each participant must have worked on at least 2 different IT systems and have been involved in the design and implementation. Significant collaboration in medium to large open source projects is recognized by the iSAQB as corresponding professional experience. In addition, all participants must be able to prove 70 credit points or more in the licensed training courses of the Advanced Level. At least 10 CPs are required in the following areas of competence:

  • Communicative competence - training in cooperation with different project participants in the areas of argumentation, communication, conflict resolution, moderation or presentation.
  • Methodical competence - training in systematic procedures independent of specific technologies
  • Technical competence - promoting the application and knowledge of specific technologies in order to solve drafts and tasks in the field of software architecture

The general rule of thumb is: 1 day of training corresponds to 10 credit points. Thus, the participants have to provide evidence of iSAQB training courses of at least 7 days. Software developers or software architects who already have a recognized software architecture certificate do not have to complete all iSAQB training courses.

 

Which achievements are recognized?

As a supplement to the licensed training courses (CPSA-A), the iSAQB recognizes certain certifications. This applies in particular to the certifications of the SEI (Software Engineering Institute) or the Open Group. The JEE5EA (C) (Oracle Certified Master) and various soft skills courses are recognized by the iSAQB and the participants receive credit points based on their performance. Further information on the recognition of CPs can be found directly on the iSAQB website.

 

Areas of expertise in software architecture

Every software architect and software developer must have skills in 4 important areas. The following 3 areas are covered directly by the iSAQB:

  • communicative and social skills
  • methodical skills
  • technical skills

For this reason, the iSAQB's training program focuses on these important areas of competence.

In their day-to-day project work, software architects are always dependent on being able to identify, design, create and adapt the required quality and functionality together with other participants. In the area of ​​software architecture, the social competence and the communicative skills of those involved in the project play a central role: The technical competence of a single developer or designer is not sufficient without the cooperation of all those involved in the project.

There are now almost countless publications on communication and personal and social skills. Nonetheless, the iSAQB requires training that has been specially tailored to everyday software architecture project work and that strengthens the ability to act and the personality of all those involved. For this reason, the demands placed on the trainers are extremely high: The trainers not only have to have experienced software developers, but also experience in the field of adult education.

In the absence of an industry focus, the iSAQB does not directly support the 4th competence area "Domain and subject area".

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