Should Software Engineers be Certified?

Software is everywhere and its relevance is growing at a phenomenal pace. It would not be an exaggeration to say that software runs the world. And still, as expressed in a previous blog of mine, “Trial and Error Programming”, programming skills need to improve significantly. Besides programming skills, software engineering skills also need to improve. As an example, how is that not many software engineers are using UML for modeling requirements and design?

Low threshold to become a software engineer

Let’s have a closer look at the issues related to becoming a software engineer. If there is a lack of professionals in a certain profession, people will jump on it. There will be jobs all over the place. Combine this with the very low threshold to produce any software and it will be very easy to jump on the possibilities we have due to the lack of software engineers.

How easy is it to download a compiler and write and execute your first program? How easy is it to search the internet for any piece of code and copy it into your program to get a result? How easy is it to learn Python and start programming? Unlikely in other engineering disciplines, everybody can start programming easily. Tools are available and downloadable from the internet; on the other hand, production is done by compiling. With partial understanding of a programming language, first results can be easily achieved. How different is it from building your first electronics circuitry? Building electronic circuitry without understanding voltage, current, resistors, coils, capacitors, transistors, or digital circuitry is not even possible.

The low threshold to becoming a software engineer coupled with the high need of software engineers in the market is the reason why we do have high numbers of software engineers who are not adequately educated.

Software engineering is more than programming alone.

If we take software development seriously, we should make sure that our software engineers are well trained in necessary software engineering practices, next to “only” knowing a programming language. Engineering practices such as requirements engineering, modeling, design methodologies and design patterns, Clean Design, algorithms, Clean Code, and testing assume even greater importance than knowing the programming language itself. Additionally, our software engineers should be educated in computer architectures, computer networks and security, databases, operating systems, communication protocols, and so on.

In order to build high quality software, it is not sufficient to “only” know a programming language. Therefore, should we certify our software engineers to ensure they are well educated in relevant topics associated with software engineering? This is especially important for determinative software in our society, like software in aerospace or automotive or in our financial systems. Certification of our software engineers would help us ensure that only well-educated software engineers are working on our most critical software!

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