The Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP) is filling a hole left by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). While CompTIA’s vendor-neutral certifications (including the popular A+, N+, and Server+ accreditations) have made great inroads, they’ve predominantly targeted help desk professionals and administrators. ICCP, meanwhile, has been busy aiming at programmers and developers with its independent Certified Computing Professional (CCP) and Associate Computing Professional (ACP) certifications.

In this week’s IT Certification Corner, I’ll take a look at exactly what those certifications cover and who’s eligible to pursue them.

Certified Computing Professional (CCP)
The CCP is ICCP’s premier certification. In order to earn CCP accreditation, candidates must pass a “Core IT Skills and Knowledge” exam and two specialty tests with scores of 70 percent or higher on each. Specialty exams can be taken on the following topics:

  • IT Management
  • Procedural Programming (Structured Programming)
  • Systems Development
  • Business Information Systems
  • Internetworking & Communications
  • Office Information Systems
  • Systems Programming
  • Software Engineering
  • Systems Security
  • Data Resource Management
  • Microcomputing and Networks

Candidates can also pass two programming language exams in place of one of the specialty exams, should they so choose. These language exams are offered:

  • Pascal
  • Visual Basic
  • RPG/400
  • C
  • C++

In addition, other certifications can be used in place of one of the specialty exams. They include:

  • Microsoft’s MCSD, MCSE, and MCSE+I
  • Novell’s Master CNE, CNE, and Certified Internet Professional Web Designer or Developer
  • Oracle’s Oracle Certified Professional Application Developer
  • Lotus’ Certified Lotus Professional Application Developer
  • Inprise’s Certified JBuilder Trainer

Before you can register to take CCP exams at a local testing center, you must first send ICCP an application. Once the application is approved, ICCP will provide the telephone number you’ll use to schedule your exams.

As part of the application process, ICCP will check to ensure that you meet the experience requirements. CCP candidates must have four years of full-time industry experience. A bachelor’s degree in an IT-related field can be substituted for two years of experience. More information on CCP eligibility requirements can be found on ICCP’s Web site.

Candidates not meeting the CCP’s experience requirements may find the ACP certification to be a better fit for them.

Associate Computing Professional (ACP)
While the CCP is targeted at more seasoned professionals, the ICCP’s ACP is designed to appeal to recent college graduates and IT professionals new to the industry. ACP candidates are not required to meet the industry experience requirement.

IT professionals seeking ACP certification receive another break, too. Instead of having to score 70 percent or greater on their tests, they must score 50 percent or better on the core examination and one specialty test.

Recertification is required
ICCP may have the answer to the question that’s plagued many IT certifications. The Des Plaines, IL-based institute requires its CCP certified professionals to recertify once every three years. ICCP differs from other vendors by introducing a continuing education element to its program. Recertification can be achieved through three methods:

  • Pass new specialty certification exams
  • Pass new exams in your area of expertise
  • Participate in educational or other professional activities

Certified CCP professionals wanting to maintain accreditation by participating in educational or professional activities can work directly with ICCP to determine which continuing education activities apply toward recertification. Participating in 120 hours of appropriate activities meets the recertification requirement.

Eckel’s take
Programmers, developers, and even administrators and analysts who do some programming should give ICCP a look as an alternative vendor-neutral certification. While ICCP isn’t as well known as CompTIA, the institute focuses on building accreditations that demonstrate true IT expertise, especially in programming. ICCP also builds its certification tracks around the level of real-world experience a candidate possesses. That fact, combined with the CCP recertification requirement, should ensure that ICCP certifications continue to be respected by those who are familiar with ICCP.

Best of all, the cost is reasonable. ICCP’s Core IT Knowledge and Skills exam runs $195, as does its specialty exams. ICCP’s programming language exams, meanwhile, cost $105.