7 certifications software developers should consider to grow their career

The necessity of professional certifications is debated, with many software developers pooh-poohing their relevance when it comes to securing a job. But in a competitive job market, anything that can give you an edge or help you stand out as a candidate is worth considering.

If you’re at the early stage of your career, or looking to pivot, securing certification can offer assurances of your skills when you’ve not yet built up the experience. Professional certification will also demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and keeping up with the latest technologies and best practices — an essential skill for any software developer.

What’s more, the educational materials for certifications are often free — it’s the assessment that will cost you — so you can always use them as a way to build up your industry-ready skillset, and find other ways to demonstrate that to potential employers.

1. AWS Certified Developer

To give you an idea of how much your daily digital interactions rely on Amazon Web Services (AWS), an outage at some of the company’s cloud servers in December 2021 not only affected online media and streaming services, it also took out some security cameras, interactive retail screens, automatic vacuums, and electric vehicles.

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AWS is such a dominant feature of the cloud marketplace that evidence of your expertise can be required in a job spec. This cloud data architect role at Adesso, for example, asks for proven technology expertise in AWS, which would ideally be supported by manufacturer certifications or project experience.

There are no prerequisites to become an AWS Certified Developer, however, AWS recommends you have at least one year’s experience working with apps built on its platform before you tackle it. The assessment involves a 130-minute exam that costs €138 and you’ll come away with certified knowledge of the best practices for AWS architecture, user support, web development and deployment, debugging, and software lifecycle management.

2. Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

Microsoft’s Azure is the world’s second-largest cloud service after AWS. Complete beginners who want to build a career working with this platform should consider getting an Azure Fundamentals certification. Having this certification will demonstrate to potential employers that you understand the basics of Azure architecture and it’s a prerequisite for many of Microsoft’s more advanced Azure certifications.

This Microsoft developer role in Rennes, for example, notes that having at least one Microsoft certification would be a plus for candidates.

It’s a 45-minute exam that costs €99 or less (depending on your location). Developers should also note that Microsoft’s specialty certifications can expire if they aren’t renewed.

3. Oracle Certified Professional: Java SE Developer

Almost one-third of developers globally use Java and for good reason: its platform is massively popular when it comes to enterprise development. If your previous work has been limited to Java SE 8 or an older version, getting certified in SE 11 or 17 will demonstrate to employers that you are up to date on the latest capabilities. This Java developer role at CGI, for example, specifies Java 11 as one of the key technologies.

The exam for either a professional certification as a Java SE 11 or SE 17 developer takes 90 minutes, consists of 50 multiple-choice questions, and costs €228. There are no prerequisites for these exams but some hands-on experience with Java is most certainly recommended.

4. Salesforce Platform Developer

As customer relationship management (CRM) platforms go, Salesforce has long been top of the charts with nearly a quarter of the market share. To gain Salesforce Platform Developer I certification, some prior experience as a developer is recommended, as well as some experience with Lightning, Salesforce’s app development platform.

The exam takes up to 105 minutes, consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, and costs $200 (€185). Salesforce certifications also require maintenance modules to be completed annually.

5. Certified Scrum Developer

The Scrum Alliance is a non-profit delivering training and certification in Agile development. Becoming a Certified Scrum Developer is less about testing and proving your technical skills as a developer and more about showcasing your soft skills and ability to work within an Agile team framework.

This training and certification could be a great step for developers who want to gain or improve their skills in leading and managing teams. Right now, there are a number of scrum master roles available in companies across The Netherlands, for example, at the JEX software agency in Rotterdam, IT business Capgemini in Eindhoven, and Utrecht University.

The certification requires at least 14 hours of training followed by an evaluation. Pricing varies depending on the course you sign up for. The certification is valid for two years and renewable for a fee.

6. Certified Software Development Professional

This professional software development certification is issued by the IEEE, a member-driven organisation promoting professional development. Its online exam covers software requirements, design, construction, and testing across 160 questions and takes three hours.

Though it’s not required, those taking the test are advised to have at least two years of higher education in computer science or a related discipline and a further two years of professional experience. Taking the exam costs up to $485 (€448), with discounted rates for students and IEEE members.

The cost and experience level create higher barriers to this certification but it carries the esteem of the IEEE, which claims that its certifications are used as a benchmark for hiring at companies such as Siemens, IBM, and Oracle.

7. Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional

Issued by the (ISC)2, a professional body specialising in the training and development of cybersecurity professionals, the CSSLP certification is for software developers who want to enhance their security credentials. The focus is on skills in authentication, authorisation, and auditing, and candidates must have four years of professional experience in software development to qualify.

At a cost of €555, the four-hour exam consists of 175 multiple-choice questions. Cybersecurity is one sector where being accredited is particularly pertinent, and this (ISC)2 certification is even recognised by the US Department of Defence.

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