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Best Enterprise Architect Certifications

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Credit: Mooshny/Shutterstock

Enterprise IT architect certifications appear most often at the apex of certification programs, where less than 1 percent of IT pros ultimately ascend. Even so, numerous IT architect certifications are available, and it isn't necessary to invest in one certification sponsor's vision to make it to such heady certification heights.

Many IT certifications in this area fall outside vendor umbrellas, which means they are vendor-neutral or vendor-agnostic. This makes sense considering that heterogeneity is the rule for most of the major technology niches at play in data centers and global operations everywhere.

Nevertheless, the number of vendor-specific IT certifications exceeds vendor-neutral ones by a factor of more than two to one. That's why we devote the last section of this article to all such credentials as we encountered them in search of the best enterprise architect certifications.

Certainly, for those IT pros who've invested already in vendor-specific certification programs, credentials at the architect level may indeed be worth pursuing. Enterprise architects are among the highest-paid employees and consultants in the tech industry.

The national average salary per SimplyHired is $125,037, in a range from $86,745 to a whopping $180,233. Glassdoor reports $134,751 as the average. Ultimately, the value of any IT certification depends on how much time the individual has spent toiling and in what part of the IT patch.

Before you peruse our best picks for 2018, check out the results of our informal job board survey. Data indicates the number of job posts in which our featured certifications were mentioned on a given day. The data should give you an idea of the relative popularity of each certification.

Certification

SimplyHired

Indeed

LinkedIn Jobs

Linkup.com

Total

CTA (Salesforce)

174

183

17

62

436

ITIL Master (Axelos)

556

597

16

321

1,490

RHCA (Red Hat)

22

30

28

12

92

TOGAF 9 (The Open Group)

511

563

74

254

1,402

Zachman Certified – Enterprise Architect (Zachman)

93

101

51

62

307

In 1999, Salesforce revolutionized the world of CRM when they introduced the concept of using the cloud to provide top-quality CRM software. Today, Salesforce has more than 150,000 customers, earning the distinction of industry leader for CRM enterprise cloud platform. Currently, Salesforce offers solutions for several focus areas, including sales, service, marketing, commerce, productivity, platform, analytics, community, internet of things (IoT) and industry (financial and health).

To meet industry needs for qualified and experienced professionals who possess the skills necessary to support its growing customer base, Salesforce developed and maintains a top-notch certification program. It offers many paths to candidates, whether they're interested in administration, app building, architecture, marketing and so on.

Salesforce Architect certifications are hierarchy-based with most (but not all) lower-level credentials serving as prereqs for more advanced credentials. At the top of the certification pyramid is the highest credential a Salesforce professional can earn – the Certified Technical Architect (CTA) – which is also our featured Salesforce certification.

The Salesforce architect certification pyramid consists of three levels:

  • Specializations: These form the bottom tier of the pyramid. Salesforce offers eight specializations, four of which support application solutions, while the other four support system solutions. Application specializations include certifications for Data Architecture and Management Designer, Sharing and Visibility Designer, Platform Developer I and Platform App Builder. System specializations include Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer, Identity and Access Management Designer, Integration Architecture Designer and Platform Developer I credentials.
  • Domain Architect: There are two Salesforce Domain Architect credentials: the Certified Application Architect and the Certified System Architect. The Certified Application Architect designation targets professionals who possess expert-level knowledge regarding Salesforce product functionality and features, while the Certified System Architect credential focuses on governance, integration and testing. Both credentials require the candidate to first earn their corresponding specialization certifications in addition to meeting other requirements.
  • Technical Architect: The Certified Technical Architect (CTA) is the highest Salesforce credential available. CTAs are experts in all Salesforce domains and possess skills necessary to design, build and implement Salesforce platform solutions. To earn the CTA, candidates must first obtain both the Certified Application Architect and Certified System Architect credentials. Candidates must meet experience requirements and pass a rigorous board review, which validates a candidate's knowledge and skills in Salesforce competency areas, such as communication, development lifecycle and deployment planning, integration, solution architecture, data, security and system architecture.

Salesforce requires CTAs to maintain current skills. Credential holders must pass maintenance module exams with each new product release cycle (typically in summer, winter and spring). While difficult to earn, the CTA is the must-have credential for IT professionals serious about pursuing a career in Salesforce technologies.

Certification Name

Certified Technical Architect (CTA)

Prerequisites & Required Courses

Salesforce Certified Application Architect and Salesforce Certified System Architect credential

OR

Successful completion of Salesforce Certified Technical Architect multiple-choice exam plus an active Salesforce Certified Force.com Developer or Platform App Builder credential

PLUS

5 years of implementation experience (must include development experience across the full software development lifecycle)

3 years of experience in an architect role

2 years of experience with the Force.com platform (one year must be in an architect role while implementing Salesforce technologies and applications)

Experience as a technical architect on multiple complex deployments OR equivalent knowledge through project participation

Additional experience guiding teams on platform technology; identifying and mitigating technical risks; exposure to project globalization, object-oriented design patterns, platform-specific design patterns and limits; developing code on the Force.com platform; building and addressing security complexities, mechanisms, and capabilities on the Force.com platform as part of a functional security model; knowledge of data migration, design tradeoffs and ETL tools, large data volume considerations, risks and mitigation strategies, general mobile solutions and architecture, on-platform mobile solutions and considerations as well as project and development lifecycle methodologies

Number of Exams

One exam (four hours to complete; candidates must formulate, justify, and present recommendations based on a hypothetical scenario to a review board)

Certification Fees

$6,000
Retake fee: $3,000

URL

http://certification.salesforce.com/technicalarchitect

Self-Study Materials

Salesforce maintains links on the certification web page to numerous review materials, including the Certification Exam Guide, online documentation, tip sheets, user guides, exam outline, Architect Journey e-books, Trailhead trails, Salesforce Guide to Certification and more.

One of our favorite credentials (and of employers as well judging by the job board numbers) is the ITIL for IT Service Management credentials from Axelos. Axelos is a global provider of standards designed to drive best practices and quality throughout organizations. ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) joined the Axelos family in 2013.

Axelos manages ITIL credentialing requirements, ITIL updates, provides accreditation to Examination Institutes (EIs), and licenses organizations seeking to use ITIL. In addition to ITIL certifications, Axelos offers credentials for Prince2, Prince2 Agile, Resilia, MSP, MoP, M_o_R, P30, MoV and P3M3.

ITIL is a set of well-defined and well-respected best practices that specifically target the area of IT service management. There are more than 2,000,000 ITIL-certified practitioners worldwide. ITIL is perhaps the most widely known and globally adopted set of best practices and management tools for IT service management and support.

Axelos maintains a robust ITIL certification portfolio consisting of five ITIL credentials:

  • ITIL Foundation: An entry-level credential that validates general ITIL knowledge, including terminology, concepts, elements, services lifecycle, and ITIL processes.
  • ITIL Practitioner: A stepping-stone credential for the more advanced Intermediate credential that tests a candidate's ability to use ITIL principles within their business organization.
  • ITIL Intermediate: An industry-recognized qualification with a modular structure; each module focuses on a different aspect of IT service management.
  • ITIL Expert: An expert-level credential for candidates who possess broad ITIL knowledge that covers the entire ITIL Scheme.
  • ITIL Master: The highest ITIL credential offered by Axelos; targets professionals who recommend and implement ITIL best practices

The ITIL Master credential is the pinnacle ITIL certification and requires experience, dedication and a thorough understanding of ITIL principles, practices, and techniques. To gain the ITIL Master designation, candidates must possess at least five years of experience in the field of IT service management. The experience must have been in managerial, advisory or other leadership roles. In addition, candidates must possess the ITIL Expert certification. Once the prerequisite skills and certification requirements are met, the real certification work begins.

Upon completion of the prerequisites, candidates must register with an approved Examination Institute and submit an application. Next, candidates prepare and submit a proposal for a business improvement to implement within their organization. The proposal submission is followed by a "work package," which documents a real-world project that encompasses multiple ITIL areas.

The work package (1) validates how the candidate applied ITIL principles, practices, and techniques to the project, and; (2) documents the effectiveness of the solution and the ultimate benefit the business received as a result of the ITIL solution. Finally, the candidates must pass an interview with an assessment panel where they defend their solution.

Certification Name

ITIL Master Certificate – IT Service Management

Prerequisites & Required Courses

ITIL Expert Certificate

Five years of IT service management experience (experience must be in managerial, leadership or advisory roles)

Number of Exams

No exam required; candidates must complete the following:

  • Register with an EI
  • Submit application
  • Submit proposal
  • Submit work package
  • Attend interview

Certification Fees

Vary by Examination Institute

URL

https://www.axelos.com/certifications/itil-certifications/itil-master

Self-Study Materials

Axelos provides documentation to guide candidates in the preparation of proposal and work package submissions. Available documentation includes the ITIL Master FAQs document, ITIL Master Proposal Requirements and Scope document, and the ITIL Master Work Package Requirements and Scope document.

When it comes to enterprise-level open source solutions, Red Hat remains the clear industry leader. We think it's fair to say that finding an IT professional who isn't familiar with Red Hat Enterprise Linux or other Red Hat solutions would indeed be rare.

Globally recognized for its open sources models, Red Hat offers products and solutions for multiple industry focus areas, including mobile, storage, cloud computing, virtualization, middleware, management and operating systems. Considering Red Hat's industry prominence, it comes as no surprise that the Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) made this year's top five list of enterprise architect certifications.

The RHCA is one of the most coveted Red Hat designations and demonstrates that the credential holder possesses expert-level skills and knowledge in the chosen RHCA concentration. Currently, Red Hat offers an RHCA credential in five concentration areas – Datacenter, DevOps, Application Platform, Cloud and Application Development – enabling candidates to pursue their particular area of career interest.

The RHCA designation is available in two levels: RCHA Level I or RHCA Level II. To earn the Level I or Level II RHCA designation, candidates must first earn either the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) or Red Hat Certified JBoss Developer (RHCJD) credential. In addition, RHCA Level I candidates must pass five qualifying exams in Red Hat technologies. Candidates seeking to achieve the RHCA Level II designation must pass six or more qualifying Red Hat technology exams. Red Hat maintains a list of qualifying exams on the certification web page.

While some exceptions and additional rules apply, candidates need to maintain at least five credentials in addition to the RHCE or RHCJD designation to maintain the RHCA. Red Hat maintains a list of the complete renewal requirements and details for all certifications on the Red Hat certification renewal page.

Certification Name

Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)

Prerequisites & Required Courses

RHCA Level 1: Must earn either the RHCE or RHCJD plus five additional certifications from the approved list of qualifying credentials

RHCA Level II: Must earn either the RHCE or RHCJD plus at least six additional certifications from the approved list of qualifying credentials

Number of Exams

Five (Level I) or six (Level II) exams (candidates select from a list of qualifying exams; exams last between two and four hours)

Certification Fees

$400 or two training units per exam ($2,000 for Level I; $2,400 for Level II)

URL

https://www.redhat.com/en/services/certification/rhca

Self-Study Materials

Red Hat offers numerous training options, including instructor-led (classroom and online) training, blogs, articles, communities and more. The Red Hat Learning Subscription program is a cost-effective way to access training materials, videos and hands-on labs as well as exams. RHCAs receive a 50 percent discount on Red Hat Learning Subscriptions.

A leader in enterprise architecture, The Open Group's standards and certifications are globally recognized. The TOGAF (which stands for The Open Group Architecture Framework) standard for enterprise architecture is widely popular among leading enterprise-level organizations. Currently, TOGAF serves as the development and architecture framework of choice for more than 80 percent of global enterprises.

TOGAF's popularity is due, in large part, to the fact that the framework standard is specifically geared to all aspects of enterprise-level IT architectures, with an emphasis on building efficiency within the organization. The scope of the standard's approach covers everything from design and planning stages to implementation, maintenance and governance.

The Open Group offers several enterprise architect credentials, including TOGAF, Open CA, ArchiMate and the foundational Open Group IT Specialist (Open CITS). While we featured the Open CA cert in last year's top five list, the TOGAF certification moved up the job board ladder, earning its place among the featured slots.

The Open Group reports that there are more than 50,000 enterprise architects who are TOGAF certified. At present, there are two TOGAF credentials: the TOGAF 9 Foundation (Level 1) and TOGAF 9 Certified (Level 2). (The TOGAF framework is currently based on V9.1, although the credential name still reflects version 9.)

The TOGAF 9 Foundation, or Level 1, credential targets architects who demonstrate an understanding of TOGAF principles and standards. A single exam is required to earn the Level 1 designation. The Level 1 exam focuses on TOGAF-related concepts such as TOGAF reference models, terminology, core concepts, TOGAF standards, ADM, architectural governance and enterprise architecture. The Level 1 credential serves as a stepping stone to the more advanced TOGAF Level 2 certification.

The TOGAF 9 Certified, or Level 2, credential incorporates all the requirements for Level 1. Level 2 TOGAF certified architects possess an in-depth knowledge of TOGAF standards and principles and can apply TOGAF standards to organizational goals and enterprise-level infrastructure. To earn the designation, candidates must possess the Level 1 credential plus pass the Level 2 exam. The Level 2 exam covers TOGAF concepts, such as applying ADM phases, governance, content framework, building blocks, stakeholder management, metamodels, TOGAF techniques, reference models (TOGAF Technical Reference Model and Integrated Information Infrastructure Reference Model), ADM iterations and more.

Candidates wishing to pursue a fast-track path to Level 2 certification may take a combination exam, which includes the requirements for both Level 1 and 2. Training is not required for either credential but is highly recommended. Training classes run between two and five days, depending on the training provider and whether you're taking a combined training class that covers both Level 1 and 2 requirements, or a single level training course. The Open Group maintains a list of approved training providers as well as a schedule of current training opportunities on the certification webpage.

Certification Name

TOGAF 9 Foundation (Level 1)
TOGAF 9 Certified (Level 2)

Prerequisites & Required Courses

TOGAF 9 Foundation (Level 1): None
TOGAF 9 Certified (Level 2): TOGAF 9 Foundation (Level 1) credential

Number of Exams

Level 1: One exam (40 questions, 60 minutes, 55 percent required to pass)

Level 2: One exam (8 questions, 90 minutes)

Level 1 and 2 combined exam (48 questions, 2.5 hours)

Certification Fees

$320 each for Level 1 and Level 2 exams
$496 for combined Level 1 and Level 2 exam

Exams administered by Pearson VUE.
 
Some training providers include the exam with the training course.

URL

http://www.opengroup.org/togaf9/cert/docs/indiv.html

Self-Study Materials

A number of resources are available from The Open Group, including white papers, webinars, publications, TOGAF standards, the TOGAF Foundation Study Guide ($29.95 for PDF; includes practice exam), practice test ($0.99 as PDF), and the TOGAF 9 Certified Study Guide. The Open Group also maintains a list of accredited training course providers and a calendar of training events.

Founded in 1990, Zachman International promotes education and research for enterprise architecture and The Zachman Framework. Rather than being a traditional process or methodology, The Zachman Framework is what is more accurately referred to as an "ontology." Ontologies differ from a traditional methodology or process in that, rather than being focused on the process or implementation, they focus on the properties, types and interrelationsips of entitites that exist within a particular domain. The Zachman Framework ontology is focused on the structure, or definition, of the object and the enterprise. Developed by John Zachman, The Zachman Framework is the current standard for enterprise architecture ontology.

Zachman offers currently offers four enterprise architect credentials plus a foundation-level credential:

  • Zachman Educated (eZachman): A foundation-level credential that introduces architects to the Zachman Framework, including "enterprise physics," architectural and enterprise engineer design, management indoctrination, primitive and composite models, and Zachman MetaFrameworks. Completion of an online course is required to earn the designation.
  • Enterprise Architect Associate Certification (Level 1): Candidates must attend a four-day Modeming Workshop plus pass a single exam. The workshop covers key concepts relating to enterprise architecture and The Zachman Framework, case studies, the difference between engineering or primitive models and manufacturing or composite models, and hands-on experience building Framework models. The workshop fee ($3,499) includes the exam and certification fees for Level 1 and Level 2.
  • Enterprise Architect Practitioner Certification (Level 2): Architects must submit case studies of primitive and composite models that address specified management issues; case studies must pass a referee review.
  • Enterprise Architect Professional Certification (Level 3): Candidates must complete a case study demonstrating primitive (architectural) and composite (implementation) models, and complete a referee review. Level 3 credential holders may advertise themselves as "Zachman consultants."
  • Enterprise Architect Educator Certification (Level 4): Designed for educators, the credential prepares candidates to develop and teach The Zachman Framework. To earn the credential, candidates should go through all educational materials related to The Zachman Framework, develop their curriculum and course materials, and present their course materials for review and approvals. While not required, Zachman recommends that Level 4 candidates obtain the Level 3 Professional designation.

Zachman credentials are valid for three years. To maintain the credentials, candidates are required to earn continuing education credits (referred to as EADUs). The total amount of EADUs required varies by CEA certification level.

Certification Name

Enterprise Architect Associate Certification (Level 1)
Enterprise Architect Practitioner Certification (Level 2)
Enterprise Architect Professional Certification (Level 3)
Enterprise Architect Educator Certification (Level 4)

Prerequisites & Required Courses

Level 1 Associate: Four-day Modeling Workshop ($3,499)
Level 2 Practitioner: None
Level 3 Professional: None
Level 4 Educator: Review all materials related to The Zachman Framework; Level 3 Professional recommended

Number of Exams

Level 1 Associate: One exam
Level 2 Practitioner: No exam; case studies and referee review required
Level 3 Professional: No exam; case studies and referee review required
Level 4 Educator: None; must develop and submit curriculum and course materials for review and validation

Certification Fees

Level 1 Associate: Exam fee included as part of required course
Level 2 Practitioner: None, included as part of Level 1 required course
Level 3 Professional: Not available
Leve 4 Educator: Not available

URL

https://www.zachman.com/certification/what-we-certify/enterprise-architect#enterprise-architect-associate-level-1

Self-Study Materials

Live classroom and distance learning opportunities are available. In addition, Zachman offers webcasts, the Zachman Glossary, the Zachman Framework for Enterprise Architecture and reference articles.

If you've followed this series over the years, you might have noticed our 2018 lineup features an entirely new set of credentials. Absent were the EACOE's architect credentials, IASA's CITA, Open CA and the SOA architect credentials. These are still worthy credentials, but the job board numbers simply didn't support their inclusion in the top five list.

One of the surprises we found when running job board numbers concerned the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from PMI. The PMP appeared in many enterprise architect job descriptions. Although the PMP is not an enterprise architect certification per se, many employers are looking for this particular combination of skills.

Outside of our top five vendor-neutral enterprise architect certifications, which focus on more general, heterogeneous views of IT systems and solutions, there are plenty of architect-level certifications from a broad range of vendors and sponsors, most of which are vendor-specific.

The table below identifies those vendors/sponsors, names their architect-level credentials, and provides links to more information on those offerings. Choosing one or more of these certifications for research and possible pursuit will depend on where you work or where you'd like to work.

Sponsor

Enterprise Architect Certification

More Information

 

Amazon Web Services

AWS Certified Solutions Associate & Professional

AWS Certification homepage

 

BCS

Enterprise and Solution Architecture Practitioner

BCS homepage

 

Brocade

Brocade Certified Architect for FICON

Certified Architect for FICON page

 

Cisco

Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr)

CCAr homepage

 

Enterprise Architecture Center of Excellence (EACOE)

EACOE Enterprise Architect
EACOE Senior Enterprise Architect
EACOE Distinguished Enterprise Architect
EACOE Enterprise Architect Fellow

EACOE Architect homepage

 

EMC

EMC Cloud Architect Expert (EMCCAe)

EMCCAe homepage

 

FEAC Institute

Certified Enterprise Architect (CEA) Black Belt

FEAC CEA homepage

 

Hitachi

Hitachi Data Systems Architect (2 tracks)

Training & Certification homepage

 

IASA

Certified IT Architect (CITA)

CITA homepage

 

National Instruments

Certified LabVIEW Architect (CLA)

CLA homepage

 

Nokia

Nokia Service Routing Architect (SRA)

SRA homepage

 

Oracle

Oracle Certified Master, Java EE Enterprise Architect

Java EE Enterprise Architect homepage

 

SOA

Certified SOA Architect

SOA Architect homepage

 
 

These architect credentials typically represent pinnacle certifications within the programs to which they belong, and function as high-profile/high-value capstones to those programs in many cases. Membership in the group of individuals who attain such credentials is often quite small but comes with tight sponsor relationships, high levels of sponsor support and information delivery, and stratospheric salaries and professional kudos.

Often, such certifications serve as deliberately difficult and especially challenging targets for a small, highly select group of IT professionals. Earning one or more of these certifications is generally the culmination of a decade or more of professional growth, high levels of effort and considerable expense. No wonder, then, that architect certifications are highly regarded by IT pros, and highly valued by their employers.

Given the seniority and a typical number of years on the job for most certified architects – 10 to 15 years of IT experience, if not more – providing advice about choosing such a credential is like asking about the price of any extremely expensive item. That is: "If you have to ask, you can't afford it," which transmutes in this case into: "If you don't know already, think awhile longer and you'll either figure it out for yourself or give up."

These credentials will often be dictated by choices that your employer (or industry sector, in the case of government or DoD-related work environments) have already made independent of your own efforts. Likewise, most of the vendor-specific architecture credentials either make sense (or not) based on what's deployed in your work environment or in a job you'd like to occupy. Though there are lots of potential choices IT pros could make, the actual number they can (or should) make will be influenced by their circumstances.

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