Industry-Specific Certifications

Career changers take note: Industry-specific certifications are targeted at individuals with one or more years of hands-on experience or specialized education in a field, not at techies trying to break into an industry.

Certifications now exist for every available technology, or so it seems. A new tool or trend appears, and soon enough, everyone is wondering whether you can earn a certification for it. But imagine a different type of certification, providing a credential for IT expertise in a specific field -- accounting, say, or the hotel industry -- rather than in one companys software.

Does such a thing exist? Yes. It may be too soon to call this a full-fledged trend, but a number of industry associations now offer certifications for information technology professionals working within specific fields. Some of these certifications require professional credentials, as in the case of one for accounting (a CPA is required), while others are open to anyone with knowledge and experience in the industry. The requirements tend to be vendor-neutral, rather than tied to a specific companys technology.

Career changers take note: Industry-specific certifications are targeted at individuals with one or more years of hands-on experience or specialized education in a field. They are not designed for techies trying to break into an industry.


"Other technology certifications tend to be product-specific, skill-specific or highly technical and thus depend upon the success of a product," according to a FAQ on the Certified Information Technology Professionals (CITP) program for accountants. "The CITP, on the other hand, is a long-term, broad-based credential." Much the same could be said of other industry-specific certifications, which aim to certify individuals with a well-rounded technical background. The certification exam for the CITP covers strategic planning, information systems management, systems architecture, databases, e-business, security, privacy, system development, and project management. In order to pursue the certification, you must be a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and hold a valid, state-issued CPA certificate.

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With information technology an increasingly important component of healthcare management, its not surprising the industry would have two IT-related certifications. Available from HIMSS (the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), the Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS) is targeted at individuals with expertise in healthcare information and management systems, such as computer-based patient records, telemedicine and wireless computing.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA), a credential for individuals with experience in the collection, interpretation and analysis of patient data. RHIAs may be managers, consultants, or directors of health information management at a hospital or other facility, dealing with issues such as information security, storage and data quality assurance.

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Developed jointly by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals and the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) program is designed for project managers, IT administrators and others involved in technology projects for hotels, restaurants and other hospitality-related businesses. To earn the CHTP designation, applicants must pass a four-hour examination covering a wide range of technology principles. A study guide is available for the exam; other recommended resources include "Managing Computer Systems in the Hospitality Industry," "Untangling the Web" and the chapter on computer systems in "Contemporary Club Management."

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The Society of Manufacturing Engineers offers two technology-related certifications. Though not designed specifically for IT professionals, they may be applicable for manufacturing specialists with IT expertise. The Certified Manufacturing Technologist (CMfgT) recognizes individuals with knowledge of the fundamentals of manufacturing, including mathematics, computer applications and engineering design. The CMfgT requires a minimum of four years of education or manufacturing-related experience.

Another certification, the Certified Enterprise Integrator, is designed for professionals with at least eight years of education and manufacturing enterprise-related work experience. The credential is geared for manufacturing professionals able to integrate all facets of the manufacturing enterprise.

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