Why IoT Certification Could Boost Your Career
- A number of IoT-focused certificate programs and courses provide a fundamental underpinning for deploying connected technology.
- When choosing a certification it’s important to consider the stability, longevity and commitment of its sponsor.
- IoT certification programs range considerably in terms of focus, touching on everything from networking concerns to business considerations.
With projections for growth that beggar belief, the Internet of Things (IoT) has burst onto the business scene with vigor. In short, IoT is an active market, with opportunities aplenty.
A recent Economist story cited a prediction that the number of IoT devices should exceed 25 billion by 2025, up from 11 billion in 2019. With the continued proliferation of surveillance devices, digital doorbells, sensor networks and a great deal more connected things there are billions of reasons why IT pros and other business professionals want and need to dig into this subject matter, pronto.
How to Get an IoT Education
There are several IoT certifications currently available right now. Find a summary of these in Table 1, with a little more information about each program or offering to follow.
Table 1: IoT Certifications in Early 2020
|Cloud Credential Council||IoT Certification Program||Internet of Things Foundation Certification (IoTF)||Entry-level, business-oriented||N|
|Arcitura||(none)||Certified IoT Architect||3 modules, technical, solutions design and architecture||Y|
|CertNexus||IoT Certifications||IoTBIZ||Entry-level, business-oriented||N|
|Certified Internet of Things Practitioner (CIoTP)||Technical implementation, ANSI accredited||N|
|Certified Internet of Things Security Practitioner (CIoTSP)||Security implementation, operation & management||N|
|Cisco||Technical Specialist||Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist||Technical design, operate, manage||Y|
|IOT-Inc||(none)||Certified IoT Professional (ICIP)||Technical, design & implementation||N|
|Microsoft||Azure Platform||Certified Azure IoT Developer||Technical solution development||Y|
Note: each program or credential is linked to one or more sources of online information (follow those links for more info).
Most offerings are rigorous content-wise. Most of the vendor-neutral offerings come from industry associations, substantial training companies or large established vendors (e.g., Cisco and Microsoft). In general, when choosing a certification, consider the stability, longevity and commitment of its sponsor. All offerings in Table 1 provide substantial and meaningful training, with one or more certifications available. One player, IOT-Inc, is comparatively small and shallowly staffed and resourced. Thus, caution is warranted before signing up for its training and/or certification (check company references and online training ranking and rating sites).
Cloud Credential Council: IoTF
Launched in 2013, the CCC offers a sizable collection of certifications on a variety of cloud-related topics that include cloud computing and technology, IoT, big data and blockchain. Currently, the council’s sole IoT offering is an IoT Foundation certification. A bundled version with a self-study e-book, practice exam questions, practice exam and webcam proctored exam costs $349 (plus applicable taxes and fees, depending on location). This item is business focused, and would be a suitable start for sales, IT admins and developers, and management staff interested in learning IoT basics.
Arcitura: Certified IoT Architect
Arcitura Education describes itself as a “leading global provider of progressive, vendor-neutral training and certification programs.” Its core topic areas include big data, IT best practices, service-oriented architectures and microservices, cloud computing and IoT. Earning the Certified IoT Architect requires taking three course modules, each of which is available either self-paced or in the classroom. A study kit bundle costs under $720, and includes course materials and exam preparation/drill materials. The CIoTP exam is available from Pearson VUE for $150 (separate site registration required, normally available at local test centers or in online proctored form). The credential includes some coverage of business value behind using IoT, but it is solidly focused on functional distribution models such as edge computing, plus IoT device design and implementing IoT-based workplace or marketplace solutions.
CertNexus: IoTBIZ, CIoTP and CIoTSP
With an entry-level cert for business types and practitioner credentials for IT pros and security specialists, CertNexus offers the biggest and most complete IoT certification program currently available (such as it is). CertNexus is a global training and certification company based in the U.S., and has been in business since the early 2010s. Their Certified Internet of Things Practitioner (CIoTP) is the only credential in Table 1 to have achieved ANSI/ISO/IEC 17024 accreditation (a requirement for programs that U.S. government and Department of Defense employees wish to use on the job). Both the CIoTP and the Certified Internet of Things Security Practitioner (CIoTSP) credential have serious technical and professional heft. Thus, they should be suitable for technical professionals wishing to demonstrate job-ready IoT skills and knowledge.
The Practitioner exams come through Pearson VUE, and cost $250 each. Course costs vary from $425 for self-study e-book versions up to roughly $1,500 for in-class, instructor-led training. The biggest IoTBIZ bundle includes a digital assessment, training materials and a half-day of training for approximately U.S.$200, with courseware-only versions for less than U.S.$20.
Cisco: Cisco Industrial Networking Specialist
Cisco’s training and certification curriculum currently addresses IoT under the heading “Industrial Networking,” and its Industrial Networking Specialist credential is the only one that specifically focuses on IoT, albeit in the context of an industrial/factory floor workplace. The 200-401 IMINS exam costs $300; the matching IMINS class runs for five days in a virtual or real classroom, and costs $3,146 and up (Global Knowledge USA; many other providers internationally). For those who work in Cisco networking environments that include (or plan to include) an IoT infrastructure and components, this is a recommended certification.
IOT-INC: ICIP Professional
Bruce Sinclair, the principal behind IOT-INC, is also the author of the book “IOT Inc. How Your Company Can Use the Internet of Things to Win in the Outcome Economy.” The ICIP curriculum includes three training areas with these titles: ICIP Technology, ICIP Business and ICIP Strategy & Digital Transformation. The entire cert program includes a comprehensive final examination that requires a passing score to qualify its taker for the ICIP credential. The cost for the entire bundle is a little under $1,200, with an audio program available for an additional ~$600, and 30-minute instructor sessions for $400. That said, this offering appears to lack the rigor and the kinds of information (costs, exam objectives and availability, certification term or expiration and so forth) common for most serious IT certification programs (including the other five sponsors in Table 1). Earlier, I raised business concerns about IOT-INC, as a “mouse amidst elephants.”
Microsoft Certified: Azure IoT Developer Specialty
Microsoft currently has 12 certifications under the Azure heading. But its only cert to specifically cite IoT is the Azure IoT Developer, which implements Azure IoT tools and services needed to establish and run the cloud and edge portions of an IoT solution. Thus, it is heavily programming- and implementation-oriented. The exam (in beta as this is being written) costs $165 and is available through Pearson VUE at testing centers or in online proctored form. Free training is available online, a four-day instructor-led class is also available from numerous providers for prices in the $2,000-$3,000 range. Microsoft also offers its own IoT School online, which is chock-full of useful and interesting online offerings, most of them free.
Outside the Cert Fence, a Plethora of Possibilities
Beyond out-and-out certifications, there are thousands of IoT classes (some with certificates, some without; some graded; some not) available online and in the classroom. Topics range from basic introductions to fundamentals and concepts to detailed offerings on IoT device design, testing, deployment, maintenance and use.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) – already a major IoT player with a fairly substantial certification program – offers an IoT Foundation Series training class, but no IoT certs just yet. My best guess is that this program is worth watching in 2020 as a likely source of IoT credentials later this year. My AWS contacts are studiously mum on this subject under direct questioning, though.
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of certificate programs and courses offered online and in the classroom through colleges and universities around the globe, many of them relevant to IoT deployments. Elite institutions such as MIT and Stanford have IoT programs and offerings, as do many online platform course purveyors such as edX, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, Udacity, The Open University and many more. Spend any time with a good search engine for online courses – such as Class Central, Classpert or MOOC List, and you’ll see more options than you might imagine possible.
In choosing such training, it’s best to rely on information and feedback from those who’ve taken courses of potential interest. They are (and will) be the most cogent and useful source of input on which ones to pursue, and which to leave alone.
Finally, the salaries in the IoT discipline are lucrative and range from $82,000 to $150,000, according to PayScale. IoT certification may help you rank on the higher end of that scale, with the education and experience to handle a real-world IoT environment.
Ed Tittel is a long-time computing industry writer and researcher. Perhaps best known for his “Exam Cram” series of IT certification prep books, he’s been following and writing about IT training and certification since the mid-1990s. He currently blogs on such topics weekly for GoCertify.com and has written hundreds of certification related articles for businessnewsdaily.com.