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The Utility of Certification Credentials in the Employment and Promotion of Information Systems Professionals
Kathleen S. Hartzel

Last modified: 2011-09-19


The information and communication technologies (ICT) field relies on individuals with a wide vary of skills and talents.  Technical skills are needed to build, implement, and support infrastructure and application systems.  Interpersonal skills are required to gather and understand organizational needs and to communicate among project teams and stakeholders.  Analytical skills are needed to understand legacy information systems and to enhance organizational value through the creation of specifications for new systems. 

In a tight job market, competition among applicants can be fierce.  Crafting a resume that distinguishes a candidate can be exceptionally challenging, especially for the recent college graduate.  How can the recent graduate get his or her name on the short-list of candidates for a position?  Would certifications, in addition to a degree, create a competitive advantage for an individual seeking employment or promotion?  If so, what types of certifications would provide the greatest advantage?  If certifications provide value, should universities consider integrating certifications preparation (or attainment) into university curriculums?

The focus of this paper is to examine (1) the potential implications of redesigning an undergraduate degree program’s curriculum to more closely align with content material of professional certifications, (2) the value of professional (vendor neutral) certifications in hiring and advancement decisions, and (3) the value of vendor-controlled (technical) certifications in hiring and advancement decisions. The specific context of this study is focused on the discipline of information systems management offered within AACSB (Association for the Advancement of Colligate Schools of Business) accredited business schools.