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5 Certs That Put Developers on the Fast Track

Technology evolves at such as rapid rate that software developers must continually update their skills to keep pace. Certifications can be just what the job doctor ordered–offering targeted training in a specific technology, allowing developers to master a specific programming language or developer platform, and demonstrating proficiency to employers.

Choosing the Right Developer Certification

Developer certifications can lead to increases in pay and career advancement. Evan Lesser, Director of Learning for the IT job center Dice, emphasizes the need for strategic planning to get the most out of developer certification programs: “When you combine in-demand skill-sets and proven salary impact, specific certifications become valuable to individual technology professionals,” he explains. New software development platforms and programming languages are continually redefining the developer’s job qualifications.

Five Developer Certifications

The following developer certs offer the most bang for your buck, both in terms of professional relevance and career advancement potential. Salary figures are from an industry survey conducted by Certification Blog.

1. Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD)

Microsoft products remain ubiquitous throughout business information technology, ensuring the lasting value of any Microsoft IT certification. Even Microsoft certifications introduced a decade ago such as Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) continue to hold value today.

Microsoft Certified Solution Developer certification demonstrates the ability to design and implement solutions using the Microsoft .NET frameworks. A mastery of .NET technology is crucial to the design and analysis of leading-edge enterprise solutions. The MCSD developer certification requires at least two years experience in a lead developer role. MCSD certification can lead to job titles such as software engineer and software development architect. With a MCSD developer certification, IT professionals earned an average salary of $84,522 in 2010.

2. Sun Certified Java Developer (SCJD)

Versatility is the hallmark of Sun Java certification. Certification magazine summed up the value of Java developer certification training: “learn once, apply everywhere.” The classic object-oriented programming language launched in 1995, Java still dominates software and Web development. The entry-level Sun Certified Java Programmer certification saw an estimated annual market value growth of 37 percent in 2009, according to Foote Partners’ 2010 IT Skills and Certification Pay Index.

Sun Certified Java Developer certification indicates that one has arrived as a Java programmer. The advanced program combines theory and practical programming expertise, turning out Java specialists qualified to develop commercial software applications for enterprise, mobile, and Web environments.

3. Certified Internet Web Professional (CIW) Web Developer

CIW Web Developer certification has the distinction of being the industry standard for Webmasters. The Web developer series includes three specialist exams–JavaScript Specialist, Perl Specialist, and Database Design Specialist–and a fourth professional-level certification synthesizing all key Web development skills. Together, the CIW Web developer certification program offers a comprehensive foundation in Web programming tools, preparing recipients for all aspects of Internet application and database development.

4. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Project managers offer added value to an organization by combining technical development expertise and business administration skills. According to a study by IT staffing firm Veritude, project managers are among the IT professionals most in demand, along with software developers and database administrators.

The Project Management Professional certification can help software developers solidify their management experience and gain recognition as a professional project manager. The certification develops and validates recipients’ ability to plan, coordinate, budget, and execute a software or IT project. Applicants must have three to five years of management experience to qualify for the PMP certificate program. The average salary of certification graduates is $101,695.

5. IBM Certified Solution Developer: WebSphere

IBM’s product-specific certification qualifies Web application developers to design, build, and test Web services using the WebSphere Software V7 and WebSphere Applications Server V6.1. Baseline magazine rated this certification among the “Top 20 IT Certifications Worth Having,” with an estimated annual market value growth of nearly 30 percent.

Developer certification training programs and exams offer developers an important means of career advancement and a way to stay up-to-date in the constantly changing world of technology and development. Stay on top of these changes with the developer certifications that hold their value.


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