Our list of the best enterprise architect certifications for 2016 will help you get to the pinnacle of the IT certification pyramid, validating your skills and knowledge of IT, enterprise architecture and business needs.
Open CA: Open Group Certified Architect
Formerly known as the IT Architecture Certification (ITAC), the Open Group's Certified Architect (Open CA) certification seeks to identify those with strong IT architecture skills and knowledge. The Open Group is a well-known purveyor of open industry standards and technologies across the IT profession, so it stands to reason they'd be involved in IT architecture, because it seeks to integrate across many standards, tools and technologies. Historically, this certification focused solely on information technology (IT), but the Open Group has worked to expand the Open CA credential to cover business architecture and enterprise architecture as well.
As is the case with many enterprise architect certifications, the Open CA is based both on skills and experience. The program is based on four key documents, each of which addresses the overall certification and its requirements:
- Certification Policy -- which sets out policies and processes whereby an individual may become certified as an Open CA.
- Conformance Requirements* -- which lay out the skills and experience that an Open CA must possess.
- Accreditation Policy -- which establishes policies and processes whereby an organization may become an ACP to train individuals to become an Open CA.
- Accreditation Requirements -- wherein the criteria that ACPs must meet are documented.
CITA: IASA's Certified IT Architect
The group known as the International Association for all IT Architects, IASA operates a multi-level certification program known as the Certified IT Architect (CITA) that comes in Foundation, Associate, Specialist and Professional flavors.
The CITA program presents a great opportunity for those seeking a well-defined certification ladder they can climb en route to IT architecture greatness. Though some of the other programs include their own ladders (such as the Open CA) they do not pick up from the foundational level and work their way up to senior architect status. This may make climbing aboard the IT architect bus easier for some, especially for those in search of an active membership and community culture to go with their certifications.
EACOE Architect Certifications
Enterprise Architecture Center of Excellence (EACOE) is home to a four-tiered IT architecture certification program comprised of Enterprise Architect, Senior Enterprise Architect, Distinguished Enterprise Architect and Enterprise Architecture Fellow.
The EACOE is the latest incarnation of a sequence of professional organizations focused on "architecture and model driven business and technology planning, business process engineering, and application development," a statement that provides a fairly accurate assessment of what IT architects do. EACOE has been around for over 30 years and claims "over 3,500 companies and 125,000 individuals educated and trained" in its techniques, methodologies and best practices.
Certified SOA Architect
The Certified SOA Architect credential has a declared and definite emphasis on service-oriented architectures (SOAs), along with related technology solutions and infrastructures. It's not as general a credential as the others included in this article, but the cert has attracted considerable interest and traction in the industry nevertheless.
Compared to the other enterprise architect certifications on this list, the Certified SOA Architect credential:
- Is the only one that comes with no definite, clearly stated work history or experience criteria.
- Does not require extensive documentation of architecture experience, nor prior design and implementation of architecture projects.
- Is primarily targeting individuals charged with designing and building service-oriented software architectures, and thus also has a profound development emphasis and focus.
Of all the credentials on this list, the Certified SOA Architect qualifies as the most narrow and also the most junior cert. This may make it a good stepping stone for those advancing into IT architecture by way of a career on the development side of IT.
CEA: FEAC's Certified Enterprise Architect
The FEAC Institute is an interesting organization with an interesting focus aimed at a variety of different enterprise-level communities: commercial/business, government, and branches of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) as well as the contractors who support them. This can make finding your way around the organization's website occasionally challenging, as its credentials are categorized and compartmentalized along these lines.
This credential (and its companion federal government and DoD equivalents) is aimed at teaching a specific methodology for practicing enterprise architecture and creating projects in this subject area. Technical coverage is supplemented with ties into organizational budgeting processes, developing realistic statements of work (SOWs), internal promotion and approval, implementing and integrating program elements and capabilities, and measuring progress. For government projects, specific mandates, deliverables and milestones are covered to ensure compliance with OMB initiatives or departmental or legislative requirements.
This is clearly a certification program with strong government and defense connections, but given the size and scope of the work this embraces, many IT professionals will want to (or be required to) follow this path toward developing appropriate enterprise architecture skills and knowledge.