Now that mobility has become critically important to IT, helping employees achieve one or more certifications is a win-win for both employers and employees alike. Managers need a well-developed and skilled workforce to tackle today's omnipresent mobile issues, while employees feel more confident in supporting business and IT functions if they receive proper training and experience. Certification, then, is a great way to determine the effectiveness of an employee's ability to meet business demands and expectations.
This article looks at several types of mobile certifications - app development, networking, security and a mixed bag of mobile workforce and digital forensics offerings. Most of the featured companies and cert programs provide training courses, which are typically not required, along with self-study materials, sample exam questions, candidate forums and other certification prep resources. All prices are in U.S. dollars.
Mobile Development Certifications: Microsoft, MDI, Oracle and SAP
Microsoft offers several entry-level certifications through its Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) program, originally designed for high school and college students. However, because of the cachet a Microsoft certification brings to any resume or portfolio, MTA certifications also appeal to workers looking to segue into another career or to enhance their current skillset.
The MTA Mobile Development Fundamentals certification tests a candidate's ability to work with Windows Phone mobile devices, networked data and data stores, evaluate mobile programming code in XNA, Visual Basic .NET, HTML5, XAML and C# .NET and, finally, develop mobile apps. At only $69 for the exam, it's a highly affordable credential. Students take the exam through Certiport; nonstudents can sign up at Prometric. The exam was last updated in 2011, so we believe that a refresh must be in the works.
Meanwhile, the Mobile Development Institute (MDI) is a nonprofit organization with three entry-level MDI Certified Developer certifications for Apple iOS, Google Android and BlackBerry. (These certs are similar to the MTA mobile credential.) To qualify for an MDI certification exam, candidates must have published at least one app on one of the platforms. The exam itself is performance-based. An MDI proctor conducts a remote viewing session into the test-taker's computer; the testee must answer questions posed by the proctor and successfully modify example code upon request. Each certification requires one exam, which costs $375.
For its part, the Oracle Certification Program (OCP) is one of the largest in the world, with more than 200 individual certifications. Its Java certs include the Java ME Mobile Application Developer, formerly called the Sun Certified Mobile Application Developer (SCMAD). The credential recognizes developers of mobile apps for smartphones and other mobile devices who are proficient in using Java technologies and are well-versed on the Java Technology for Wireless Industry (JTWI) specification. Candidates must have an OCP Java Programmer or Sun Certified Java Programmer certificate as a prerequisite and pass a single exam, which costs $245. Oracle exams are delivered through Pearson VUE.
If your shop supports SAP/Sybase products, the SAP Certified Development Associate -- Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) Mobile Application Developer is a good intermediate-level certification for mobile developers. Only one $500exam is required, and SAP provides both classroom and e-learning prep courses.
[ How-to: Support Mobile Application Development in Your Organization ][ Feature: 10 Cutting-Edge Mobile Development Tools ]
Finally, a number of secondary educational institutions also offer certificates in mobile application development, including the University of California Extension (Irvine and San Diego), Northwestern University and ITT Tech. You can find a wealth of reputable mobile app development training courses, whether in-class or online, through companies such as Learning Tree, Appcelerator and Google.
Mobile Networking Certifications: CompTIA, Citrix, Aruba and Cisco (Sort Of)
A mobile networking certification identifies individuals who implement, manage and support mobile devices and environments, often integrating mobility with wired and wireless LANs.
CompTIA Mobility+ is perhaps the best vendor-neutral certification in the mobile networking category. Although it's considered a foundational credential, it's geared toward network administrators, security professionals and mobility architects and engineers. The exam tests candidates on Wi-Fi, cellular, Bluetooth and RF technologies, network infrastructure, mobile device management, security and troubleshooting.
Mobility+ certification serves as an unofficial stepping stone to many higher-level credentials, whether vendor-neutral or -specific. CompTIA recommends that candidates have at least 18 months of experience in a mobile environment, have achieved the CompTIA Network+ cert and have 12 months of networking experience. The single exam, MB0-001, costs $261 and is administered through Pearson VUE.
Citrix released a mobility certification in 2013, the Certified Professional - Mobility (CCP-M), and it gained a lot of buzz. This cert focuses on the design, installation, configuration and management of a Citrix XenMobile Enterprise solution, including mobile device and application management issues, security and IT compliance. Citrix provides instructor-led and online training, which cost up to $5,000. Pearson VUE administers the $300 certification exam.
Although Cisco doesn't offer a mobile-only credential, the Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless (CCNP Wireless) covers integration of mobility services with wireless LANs. This is a highly useful credential for network engineers and support personnel who work with Cisco networking equipment in a wireless environment. To achieve the certification, a candidate must pass four exams, one of which is 642-747: Implementing Cisco Unified Wireless Mobility Services (IUWMS). Each exam, available through Pearson VUE, costs $200.
Finally, the Aruba Networks certification program includes three levels of its Certified Mobility certification (associate, professional and expert) that support next-generation mobility. The certs recognize network engineers who are proficient in installing and supporting enterprise mobility and wireless LAN projects. The Associate and Professional certifications each require a single multiple-choice exam that costs $125 and is available through Pearson VUE. The Expert certification ($995) requires a performance-based, hands-on exam delivered through an Aruba Networks facility.
Mobile Security Certifications: CompTIA, GIAC and SANS Institute
A mobile security certification typically addresses the ability to either create secure mobile application or implement security in mobile networking environments - sometimes both.
In the mobile app arena, the CompTIA Mobile App Security+ certification is a vendor-neutral credential aimed at mobile app and software developers who design and build secure iOS or Android apps, as well as securing network communications and Web services. Candidates must successfully pass a multiple-choice exam for Android development (ADR-001) or iOS development (IOS-001), which costs $248.
Meanwhile, the Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) program, started by the SANS Institute in the late 1990s, is respected and recognized by many large corporations and government agencies, including the National Security Agency. One of its many certifications, the GIAC Mobile Device Security Analyst (GMOB), is a foundation-level cert for professionals who analyze mobile devices for security vulnerabilities and perform penetration tests.
The certification requires candidates to have deep knowledge of mobile app vulnerabilities and threats, mobile device architecture and features, attacks against devices and security techniques. Candidates must pass one exam, either at the conclusion of a SANS training course ( SEC575: Mobile Device Security and Ethical Hacking, typically $5,095 for six days) or by signing up directly through GIAC (referred to as a challenge exam). The exam costs $599 if taken in conjunction with training or $1,049 as a challenge exam.
Auditors and networking/security professionals might be interested in the SEC571: Mobile Device Security, which SANS offers for continuing education credits rather than full certification. The course covers mobile environment threats and vulnerabilities, legal issues, policies and controls. Pricing ranges from $700 to $1,000 per seat at conferences; for onsite pricing, contact SANS.
Mobile Specialty Certifications: Workforce Management and Forensics
Aside from application development, mobile networking and securing mobile devices and apps, other mobility-related certifications reach into mobile workforce solutions and mobile forensics.
VMware is one of the most recognized names in the virtualization industry, and its relatively new VMware Certified Associate - Workforce Mobility (VCA-WM) certification is an associate-level credential geared toward sales representatives and solution designers of mobile workforce and end user computing. A VCA-WM knows how to match VMware products such as vSphere and Horizon Suite to business use cases. Candidates can take a free Workforce Mobility Fundamentals self-paced training course through VMware, which is a nice value-add. The VCA-WM exam (VCAW510) is available through Pearson VUE.
Oracle has a workforce credential as well: the Oracle Utilities Mobile Workforce Management 2 Implementation Essentials. This single-exam, specialist certification focuses on resources needed by mobile work crews, along with scheduling, dispatching, alerting systems and the types of mobile devices these workers use. The $50 exam is also delivered by Pearson VUE.
Finally, AccessData, a maker of digital forensic software such as FTK, offers the AccessData Mobile Examiner (AME) certification, among several other forensics-related credentials. The AME tests a candidate's ability to use the Mobile Phone Examiner Plus software, as well as knowledge of cellular networks, forensic procedures and technologies. The company recommends a full training course or a QuickStart, both offered by AccessData, to prepare for the AME exam.
Kim Lindros is a content, online curricula and classroom training developer with a background in project management. She has also contributed to several books on Windows technologies and applications and IT certification. Ed Tittel is a full-time freelance writer and consultant who specializes in Web markup languages, information security and Windows OSes. He is the creator of the Exam Cram Series and has contributed to more than 100 books on many computing topics.
Read more about careers in CIO's Careers Drilldown.