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Consider different types of software engineering certifications and their career impact. Browse through our rankings of the 10 best software engineering certifications. Or explore our comprehensive directory of all software engineering certifications in the USA. Stand out in a crowded field by earning a respected industry qualification! This detailed guide provides valuable information about software engineering certifications. Learn about the differences between professional certifications and academic certificates. Consider different types of software engineering certifications and their career impact. Browse through our rankings of the 10 best software engineering certifications. Or explore our comprehensive directory of all software engineering certifications in the USA.
What is a Software Engineering Certification?
A software engineering certification is an independent qualification offered by a company or organization. It establishes a benchmark by which the software industry can validate your knowledge and skills. For example:
- Companies like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft often create standards for their software products so they know that certified individuals can properly deploy them.
- Respected organizations like IEEE Computer Society and (ISC)2 have also come up with software-related certifications to help move the industry forward.
In general, software engineering certifications strengthen your résumé in a specialized area, especially if you lack experience. You’ll able to show employers & clients that you possess valuable skill sets that are relevant in today’s workplace. As a consultant, you can also use professional certifications as a means to efficiently market your skills to potential clients.
Software Engineering Professional Certifications vs. Academic Certificate Programs
Software engineering professional certifications typically serve the established professional by:
- Offering knowledge specific to a product (e.g. Amazon’s AWS or Microsoft’s Azure)
- Providing more detailed skills within the scope of software engineering (e.g. networking, security, or cloud computing)
Software engineering certifications are often earned by passing a rigorous test and proving to a company or organization that you have a certain number of years of experience. Most certifications require a renewal process every three years. A professional certification increases your marketability, making potential employers or clients aware of your specialized knowledge.
You’ll also see colleges & universities offering software engineering certificate programs. Software engineering certificates are usually designed to complement a software-related degree like software development or computer science.
- Certificate programs at a college or university cover broader material than a professional certification and may require a more significant investment of time and money.
- Many certificates focus on core competencies of software engineering, including the design, creation, validation, maintenance, and management of software applications.
- Completion of certificate coursework ranges from six to twelve months.
A university certificate shows an employer that you are dedicated to expanding your software-related skills. A greater breadth of knowledge and applications will give you an edge over other applicants during the hiring process. And your diverse skills will make you a greater asset to a company needing versatile employees.
Types of Software Engineering Certifications
Software engineering certifications exist in a variety of forms:
- Popular Software Products: Major tech companies, including Oracle, Cisco, Microsoft & Amazon, offer professional certifications that can certify you on products in their software ecosystems.
- Key Concepts: For example, IEEE offers a comprehensive Professional Software Engineering Master Certification that will test you on the fundamental principles of software engineering.
- Best Practices: Professional organizations like IEEE have also developed certifications to improve general standards in the software industry. For instance, (ISC)2 offers certification in best practices and procedures for data security.
- Valuable Skill Sets: More topic-specific certifications—like project management, cloud-based applications, networking, and programming—can help you refine certain software engineering skills.
Are Certifications Worth It for Software Engineers?
When Are They Valuable?
Professional software engineering certifications create value when they complement your work experience. For instance, if you possess some experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS), a professional certification with AWS will enhance that portion of your résumé. Certifications can also indicate your desire to improve on a specific skill set.
When Are They Less Valuable?
Professional software engineering certifications hold less value when you possess vast and practical experience in a certifiable area. In this scenario, a certification might look redundant on your résumé. We recommend that you acquire an inessential certification only at the request of your employer. They may wish to use their employees’ certifications as a marketing tool for potential clients.
Professional Certifications vs. Other Paths (e.g. Academic Certificate Programs, Bootcamps, or Degrees)
- Professional Certification: A professional certification is an efficient way to strengthen and highlight your skills in a specific area with minimal cost and time. These standardized qualifications prove to employers and clients that you are capable of meeting industry expectations.
- Academic Certificate: A college or university certificate in software engineering typically requires more money and time than a professional certification. However, academic certificates may provide you with broader educational benefits, especially at the beginning of your career.
- Bootcamps: Bootcamps reduce the time it takes to acquire real-world software engineering skills. Many bootcamps offer fundamental technical training in coding, networking, and cybersecurity. These intensive programs attract novices who want to accelerate their education and find an entry-level technical position. However, they’re often quite expensive.
- College or University Degree: Employers value an undergraduate degree in software engineering—or a closely related field—above any other form of education. A four-year degree from an accredited university satisfies any requirements for a software engineering position.
Can You Become a Software Engineer Just with a Certification?
Probably not. Unless you have years of industry experience, software engineers are expected to have a four-year degree. Professional certifications typically provide a specialization in a branch of software engineering. Individuals who are unfamiliar with software engineering concepts may also choose to complement their software-related education (e.g. computer science) with a certification.
#1 Amazon Web Service (AWS) Certified Developer – Associate by Amazon
Candidates typically work in a developer role and have some experience in AWS technology and cloud services. AWS certification is particularly valuable within the cloud-computing industry. According to Statista, AWS held 33% of the cloud market in the first quarter of 2022.
#2 Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP) by (ISC)2
Candidates typically work as software engineers engaged in data security throughout the software development lifecycle. According to Salary Survey 2021, CSSLP holders from the United States made $165,890 in 2020.
#3 Professional Software Engineering Master Certification (PSEMC) by IEEE Computer Society
No prerequisites exist for this certification. However, the IEEE Computer Society recommends candidates possess four years of computer science or equivalent and a minimum of four years in the software industry. This certification allows you to complement your software-related background with general software engineering credentials.
#4 Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert (ASAE) by Microsoft
Candidates typically work as software engineers looking to validate Azure credentials. Microsoft provides online modules or paid instructor-led courses to prepare for the exam. This certificate requires prior completion of the Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate certification.
Azure’s widespread use makes this certification valuable in the cloud-computing industry. According to Canalys, Azure held 21% of the market share in the first quarter of 2022.
#5 Cisco Certified CyberOps Professional Certification & Training by Cisco
Candidates typically work as software engineers specializing in data security. Graduates must recertify every three years.
Recipients of this certification will be able to enlarge their career prospects. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the cybersecurity industry can expect 35% job growth from 2021 to 2031 for information security analysts.
#6 Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) by Scrum Alliance
Candidates work as software engineers, executives, and consultants who are looking for practical tools to overcome organizational friction. Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) requires the prior completion of two foundational modules from Scrum Alliance’s leadership products.
The software industry widely practices Agile methods. According to Business Wire, more than 90% of survey respondents state that their companies use Agile approaches.
Note: Independent contractors set the price and date for their courses.
#7 Project Management Professional (PMP®) Certification by Project Management Institute (PMI)
Candidates typically work as software engineers with three or more years of leading projects. PMP® certification received accreditation against the internationally recognized ISO 9001 and ISO/ANSI 17024 standards.
The software industry values skilled project managers. According to Forbes, certified PMP® project leaders earn a median salary that is 32% greater than their non-certified colleagues.
#8 Salesforce Application Architect (AA) Certification by Trailhead
Candidates regularly work with the Salesforce platform and look to showcase a comprehensive understanding of constructing Salesforce applications. Four prerequisite certifications—Data Architect, Sharing and Visibility Architect, Platform Developer I, and Platform App Builder—comprise this challenging certification.
A growing number of companies use Salesforce, making certified architects valuable. According to Ascendix, 150,000 businesses use Salesforce tools.
#9 Professional Cloud Architect (PCA) Certification by Google
Google recommends candidates possess three or more years of industry experience & one or more years of designing and managing Google Cloud solutions. You will need to pass a multiple-choice exam within a two-hour time limit. Google also offers a cloud architect learning path to prepare for this examination.
The software industry values employees capable of creating cloud applications. According to Payscale, the average cloud solutions architect earns $129,522 per year.
#10 Professional Software Developer Certification (PSDC) by IEEE Computer Society
No prerequisites exist for this certification. However, the IEEE Computer Society recommends candidates possess two years of computer science or equivalent and a minimum of two years in the software industry. This certification allows you to complement your software-related background with general software development credentials.
All Professional Certifications for Software Engineers
- CCSP – Certified Cloud Security Professional by (ISC)2
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional by Amazon
- Red Hat Certified Specialist in Cloud Infrastructure by Red Hat
- Professional Cloud Solutions Architect Certification by Cloud Credential Council
- Microsoft Certified: Devops Engineer Expert by Microsoft
- Certified Ethical Hacker by EC-Council
- CNNP Security Certification and Training by Cisco
- Security+ by CompTIA
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner by (ISC)2
- Certified ScrumMaster® by ScrumAlliance
- Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® by Project Management Institute (PMI)
- Six Sigma Certification by the Council for Six Sigma Certification
- Certified Web Professional – Web Developer by International Web Association
- Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer Certification by Oracle
- Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer Certification by Oracle
- CompTIA IT Fundamentals Certification by CompTIA
- CompTIA Network+ Certification by CompTIA
- Cisco Certified Network Associate by Cisco
- Certified Wireless Security Professional by Certified Wireless Network Professionals
- WCNA (formerly known as Wireshark Certified Network Analyst Certification) by Wireshark