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Licensing vs. Certification of Computer Professionals

Licensing vs. Certification of Computer Professionals

Abstract: Recent movements have attempted to either certify or license computer workers in order to promote professionalism. Certification of computer professionals is a more informal approach that would not be legally required, and it would promote professionalism while maintaining the flexibility necessary for a maturing discipline. Licensing, on the other hand, would imply a set of legal requirements for all computer professionals. In this paper, I will show that there are two main problems with licensing. First, the exact definitions of specific sub-fields are still unclear because the field continues to change rapidly. This makes it difficult for a licensing board to make guarantees to the public. Second, innovation is important to computing, and the licensing process could actually slow progress. For these reasons, I argue that certification is a more practical approach.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word “profession” as “a calling requiring specialized knowledge and often long, intensive, academic preparation.” The fields of computing, computer programming, and software engineering have all evolved tremendously over the past few years. Students in these fields are exposed to an ever-growing body of specialized academic knowledge, and because of this, there is a strong argument in favor of calling these people professionals. Like members of other professions, a certain level of expertise is generally expected from computer workers, and recently there have been movements to start either licensing them, like other professionals, or to expand the use of more casual certification programs. However, there are several problems with licensing that are unique to the computer industry. For this reason, I find professional licensing to be less practical than in traditional fields, and for the time being, I consider certification programs to be much more practical alternatives.

First, it is necessary to note the difference between “certification” and “licensing.” Certification is an acknowledgment made by some form of private governing body, generally a professional society such as IEEE or ACM, or a private company like Microsoft, that a computer professional has met a certain set of standards. The certification proves competence within the community or within the company, however, it is not a legal requirement that anyone wishing to work in the field be certified. Licensing, on the other hand, requires an assessment and verification by a government organization in order for a worker to be legally allowed to practice in his or her field.

My Definition of Success

Success is defined differently by every person. I believe that Emerson’s poem “What is Success?” accurately embodies my definition of success. To me success is not about how much money a person makes, the type of car he or she drives, or even the type of dwelling in which he or she lives. Success is changing just one person’s life for the better.

In my opinion, the greatest achievement is positively influencing one person. Yes, just one person who is positively influenced is success for me. I believe that every person has at one time or another looked up to someone else for guidance, direction, and encouragement. The people we look up to are who we will remember. I do not remember the brillant person who won the Nobel Peace Prize, who discovered that vaccines will effectively irradicate deadly diseases, or even who made People’s “Most Beautiful List”. The people I do remember are those who I have looked up to for guidance, direction, and many times encouragement. As those people positively influenced my life, I want to be able to do that for others. My goal in life is to give back to others just as I have received.

With all of this in mind, I will find my success in education. Several of the people who influenced me were teachers. As they gave, they taught me the importance of giving back to others through their example. I believe that I will achieve my definition of success as a teacher and that is why I am pursuing my degree in education.

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