Certification CloseUp: E-Business and E-Commerce
Some certification topics go through periods of feast and famine, alternating from one to the other. The general area that might be described as “specialized design, development, administration and maintenance expertise aimed at online business activities” is what I call e-business and e-commerce here. Alas, it has moved from a period of absolute feast during the dot-com bubble two years ago to a period of deep famine in the wake of the dot-com bust. Because the market for such expertise is rather scant right now, interest in these certifications has also declined. Likewise, because there are numerous options to choose from, it’s important to apply various market tests to make sure you pick those with the greatest ability to do your career good should you follow this certification path.
As is so common for many certification niches, e-business and e-commerce credentials come in both vendor-neutral and vendor-specific flavors. As in other areas, vendor-neutral credentials provide a good entrée into the field and help establish basic knowledge, skills and credibility, but vendor-specific credentials do more to warrant knowledge of specific development environments, tools and technologies and may be more applicable (if not exactly helpful) for those seeking work in this field. Make no mistake: Even though e-business and e-commerce may be down, they’re by no means out, and an increasing number of billions of dollars will pass through such portals for the foreseeable future.
In this coverage, Table 1 documents vendor-neutral e-business and e-commerce certifications, while Table 2 documents vendor-specific credentials in the same vein. Please note that some of these credentials focus more on design, others on administration and maintenance and others on development. When pondering your choices in this area, be sure to look for the biggest overlap in interest, skills and abilities for the best results.
You’ll also want to apply the following touchstones to help you select among your finalists, should you choose to pursue one or more of these programs:
- Name recognition: Better-known programs are easier to explain to current or prospective employers. In any case, be prepared to define any program you pursue and to explain how that program makes you a better job prospect.
- Program size: Bigger programs have more participants and may therefore attain the critical mass necessary to keep them vigorous and up-to-date longer. While bigger may not always be better, bigger is almost always a safer bet when choosing among certification options.
- Workplace demand: If nobody wants a particular credential, why should you pursue it? Do some homework and look for a program’s appearance in job postings, classified ads and “word on the street” before going after it.
- Investment required: Make sure you understand how much time, money and effort will be needed to obtain any cert that interests you. If you can’t afford to cover all these factors without undue strain, it’s probably not worth pursuing.
In short, a serious analysis of each credential that interests you and a healthy application of common sense in selecting the credential is entirely warranted.
When it comes to selecting vendor-specific programs, conventional wisdom makes things easy. If your current or a prospective employer uses the vendor’s tools or technologies, you need only count the investments necessary to decide whether or not to play. On the vendor-neutral side, you’ll want to use your best judgment to decide which programs are best for you. On the vendor-neutral side, there are no major standouts that meet all the touchstones. Of the options covered, CIW’s parent company is in financial straits, and both organizations that use ICECC as their acronym have strong offerings, but are struggling for recognition and numbers. The same, alas, is true for CompTIA’s e-Biz+ program.
No matter which of these certs you decide to investigate, you can’t help but observe that opportunities and choices abound for those interested in e-commerce and e-business. If you can make this subject pay, you’ll be dealing with an embarrassment of options, if not riches.
Ed Tittel is vice president of IT certification at iLearning.com and contributing editor for Certification Magazine. E-mail Ed with your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table 1: Vendor-Neutral E-Business/E-Commerce Programs
AWP/Jupiter Systems Certified Web Technician (CWT)