There seems to be a renewed interest in the topic of EA certification with the popularity of EA as a profession growing and demand for credible EA professionals steadily increasing.

Hence I am writing this post to provide an overview of major EA certification options and reflect recent developments in this field.

There are probably two major certifications which have been introduced since the time of last post; First is the new Zachman Certified Enterprise Architect and the TOGAF 9 Certification.

The Zachman EA Certification - Zachman is arguably the most acknowledged EA framework out there. (It can be argued that TOGAF is an EA method and not an EA framework. And this can be debated well from both sides.)

I personally am a big admirer of both John and his efforts to get EA practice credibility which it enjoys today. The certification itself is three tiered:

The Zachman Certified - Enterprise Architect (Level 1), The Zachman Certified - Enterprise Architect Professional (Level 2) is an enhancement and extension of the Zachman Certified - Enterprise Architect. The Professional separates the practitioner from the master by building on the basic certification through acquiring a methodology capability and demonstrating how that methodology can be extended to produce primitive (architecture) models from which its composite (implementations) models are derived.

And The Zachman Certified - Enterprise Architect Educator (Level 3) designation is a publicly acknowledged qualification for educators that desire to create and teach curriculum designed to employ The Zachman FrameworkZachman Certified - Enterprise Architect qualification which includes all of the basic education material on The Zachman Framework.

People behind the certification claim that what sets the Zachman Certified program apart from the rest and qualifies the certification with instant credibility is the Zachman Exam that was developed by an independent, third-party testing institution: ICCP - Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals.

The TOGAF 9 Certification - I personally am TOGAF certified and I can confirm that it is still the most complete EA method out there. In fact version 9 takes TOGAF to a next level of maturity and there are very few parallels to this method.

Yes it still remains most obvious EA certification choice. The TOGAF 9 Certification for People Program is a market-driven education and certification program to support TOGAF 9.

There are two levels to certification: Level 1, known as TOGAF 9 Foundation, and Level 2, known as TOGAF 9 Certified. Level 2 contains the learning requirements for Level 1. There are a number of different TOGAF certification paths you can take if you are already 8 certified or a fresh / direct 9 candidate.

Other EA Certification of Note - Since the time of my previous blog, number of options and alternatives to TOGAF and Zachman have increased. For instance EACOE now offers a certification and workshop. It offers four types of certifications; EA, Senior EA, Distinguished EA and Fellow. It may not appear as test-oriented as the above two. But it can be argued that, at the level of EA seniority, Testing knowledge is open to interpretation.

The Pragmatic EA Framework is gaining some traction from the sections of EA community for good reason, primarily its Pragmatism! It is a rather simplistic look at the aspects of EA but it can be argued that this approach is exactly what is required to break the shackles of theoretical EA modelling and focus on real business engagement and benefits.

PEAF offers interesting classification of certification for individuals and for organisations. For individuals it offers four options, Practitioner, Professional, Consultant and Trainer.

Given its fresh and recent start compared to more established Zachman and TOGAF there are some obvious advantages and disadvantages to EACOE and PEAF. But these alternatives provide positive and welcome challenge to the established EA methods and frameworks and should be considered if it fits with your requirements of certification.

Also the obvious question I get asked is ‘which is the best EA certification’? The answer is ‘what are your requirements?’

Each of the above EA frameworks or methods is targeting a certain set of problems and objectives, and I have to say they do succeed to a great extent. What matters most are the two questions ‘what is your individual and organisational EA challenge?’ and ‘which framework is right for you and how does getting certified help you?’.

Which brings me to the end of this post. The key point here is to understand and identify what requirements you have for the EA certification. Is it for genuine EA skills and knowledge development or for ornamental effect?

I personally benefited from interaction with fellow EA practitioners during my certification and I benefited from treating this as a process rather than a goal.

It can be argued that if you are an EA with 5 years or more experience then you do not really need to show a certification. On the other hand, aspiring IT architects who do want to move into EA roles may see certification as an absolute must.

However, just to give insight - when I was the EA practice manager, I did not select candidates because they were certified. Rather I selected them for knowledge, skills, attitude and growth potential. But certification does not hurt your chances!

So, good luck with your certification efforts!

Special note - If I have missed any other major candidates, apologies in advance. This is not intentional but the EA landscape is changing very fast and I may have missed something. So please remind me and I will revise my blog if required.

About the author

Amitabh Apte is a senior enterprise architecture practitioner who specialises in business and technology strategy definition, governance, architecture as well as methods and tools. He is an active industry networker, blogger, speaker and contributor to the advancement of enterprise architecture discipline.