What is the best certification for an Enterprise Architect to possess?

The rise of the Enterprise Architect

The world wide web and the advancement of technology over the last decade has forced enterprises to become more complex and integrated across multiple platforms to compete in an increasingly global marketplace. Due to this highly malleable environment, the way a company approaches their internal operational management and longitudinal evolution often with reference to technology has changed dramatically.

It is therefore no surprise we have seen a rise in the application of enterprise architecture; the process of aligning technology with business strategy, and the associated demand for enterprise architects. Enterprise architects are responsible for analysing a company’s structure and drawing viable conclusions in terms of the overall direction it should be headed. Their mantra is to achieve four distinct milestones: effectiveness, efficiency, agility and durability.

Although this is a highly specialised field, there are a variety of architecture frameworks and so many different certifications that an enterprise architect can possess. But which is the best certification to possess?

The top enterprise architecture certifications

Let us have a brief look at the more common types of certification available and the benefits each can bring to the table.

Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) Certification

This type of qualification is a competency based certification, similar to PMP the Open CA certification determines the knowledge you have, rather than how you apply it.  For many this is a desirable route as the certification is applicable to those in Enterprise, Business or IT Architecture and so provides greater career options.

An Open CA certification requires an applicant to demonstrate real-world evidence that he or she has developed a mastery of the field through examples and evidence. This evidence is then reviewed by three certified architects to determine whether the candidate meets the requirement for the certification. This certification exhibits proof of real-time experience as opposed to an effective knowledge base alone.

This proactive demonstration of skills can be quite attractive for businesses that are looking for potential employees that can boast real-world experience.

Zachman Certification

One of the biggest benefits that the Zachman Certification embraces is an idea known as “reality-based learning”. This program integrates learned theory directly with real world experience. Therefore, the certification process is just as heavily based on strengthening existing skills while offering a broader understanding of the industry.

Through a relatively quick evaluation process, three different levels of certification can be achieved:

  • Level 1 is defined as an enterprise architect associate
  • Level 2 is an EA professional
  • Level 3 is an EA instructor.

This certification may be useful for those wishing to add another “feather to their cap” without having to endure long and arduous hours of training. To obtain a level 1 requires only a 4 day training workshop followed by a 2 hour online examination. After submitting case studies and an additional review, the individual often times has the ability to further progress to an enterprise architect professional; the most popular of these qualifications and the one industry leaders value highly.

Zachman currently offer a range of training dates for the ‘Associate level’ (level 1) on their main site, but you will need to be willing to travel. The next two locations are Washington DC, followed by Stavangar in in Norway. Better get out the cheque book.

The Open Group Architecture Framework – TOGAF 

The Open Group Architecture Framework, TOGAF is widely recognised as the best EA certification to hold. The defining reason is that the associated framework is the most widely applied within enterprise architecture, currently adopted in 80% of fortune 500 companies. This means, more jobs available!

The certification is split into two parts, with a foundation better suited to those entering the profession, and a more advanced level for experienced an practicing architects. With this two tier system the certification offers a clear path to progression and is currently held by more than 20,000 practicing professionals. The certification can be gained through a variety of vendors, however if you are in a rush Firebrand offer the most recent TOGAF 9.1 training course with exams for certification included.

Summary
The certifications covered in this post are three of the most prominent in the enterprise architecture space, there are however a wide variety as covered by ‘Mike the Architect’ in article title ‘Enterprise architecture certifications distilled’. Before making a decision which to go for one must first consider their own circumstances.

Although each of these certifications has their own benefits, the TOGAF methodology is still the most widely-recognised program in the industry, and therefore many will opt for this qualification, perhaps at a later date securing others as needed. Notwithstanding the value that each of these offers to the applicant, it must be understood that in a constantly changing managerial environment, these certification programs will likewise need to adapt in the coming years. Nonetheless, an enterprise architect certification is vital in today’s workforce.

Author Bio: Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.

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