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Education, Certification and Experience

This is the last in a multi-part series on the key skills needed for success in enterprise computing. This three-part series is based on information that I gathered and analyzed from job postings from job sites. These postings came from companies looking to hire programmers, programmer/analysts and developers in mainframe computing.

Last week, I wrote about a collection of needed skills that I labeled as effectiveness skills that include strong written and verbal communication skills, IT thinking skills, and flexibility and adaptability. This week, I discuss a group of characteristics associated with  education, certification and experience.

What Formal Education?

There is a difference in the formal education requirements for companies depending on the scope of the job and the focus of the organization handling application development. Most employers require or prefer that a candidate has a bachelor’s degree. However, they are willing to accept a candidate who has an associate  degree or high school diploma if they have more years of experience. In short, they are willing to trade years of experience for years in the classroom at a rate of roughly two years of experience for every year in the classroom.

For duties mainly involving design and analysis work, employers prefer master’s degrees in computer science, computer engineering, software engineering or computer information systems. There are fewer of these jobs posted as organizations often prefer to promote people into these positions.

Does Certification Matter?

In IT, most people know that having a certificate isn’t the same as certification. You can have a certificate in project management and not be a certified project manager. The difference between the two is testing and a portfolio of proven experiences that go into becoming certified.

The web is full of articles about the importance of certification and how it can lead to greater earning potential, but nevertheless certification doesn’t play a highly visible role in job posting for an enterprise programmer/analyst. Employers appreciate certification but don’t want to narrow the field of applicants by making it a requirement.

Certification in mainframe skills isn’t as common as some other domains. Nevertheless, you can see what IBM has by browsing the 2016 Updates to IBM Professional Certification for systems.

How Much Experience is Too Much?

For the typical programmer/analyst job, employers are looking for highly skilled candidates with three to five years of experience. However for a programmer to get experiences that are this varied and rich, they are likely to have changed jobs three times in their first five years of work. Many jobs don’t offer a wide enough range of experiences so programmers move on to learn something new, and they are likely to get a salary increase along with the move.

There are a variety of senior design and architecture jobs that require 10 years or more of experience, but these aren’t programming jobs. In large organizations, there are IT architects who evaluate system and application software solutions from vendors as well as work on major transformations involving data, databases and corporate repositories. These designers work out proposed changes and additions to architectures on paper well before they implement the software, hardware and services.

Next Post

Next week I’ll start a new 10-part series with a focus on the trends that I find most interesting and important, from cloud computing to digital transformation all with a clear focus on enterprise computing.