Computer Software Certification and Certificate Programs

Certification in various types of computer software teaches students the skills they need to thrive in computer-based work. Programs exist for both experienced and inexperienced learners.

Essential Information

Certificate programs in computer software are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels and range from beginner programs in office software to advanced certificate programs in software engineering. These programs are ideal for individuals wishing to enhance their skills for personal use or looking to advance in their careers. Students who hold certificate or degree programs can qualify to complete certification through several associations and vendors.

  • Program Levels in Computer Software: Undergraduate certificate program; graduate certificate program.
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED for the undergraduate certificate; bachelor's degree for the graduate certificate.
  • Program Length: Up to one year depending on the complexity of the content.

Certificate in Computer Software

Some community colleges and vocational training institutes offer certificate programs in computer software for those interested in learning to use basic office or administrative software. These programs provide basic training in software applications, such as spreadsheets, word processing, database software and presentation software. Students learn to use the latest standard industry software packages through hands-on training. Course topics might include:

  • Keyboarding
  • Microsoft Excel spreadsheets
  • Microsoft Word
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Microsoft Access database applications

Graduate Certificate in Computer Software

Advanced-level certificates in computer software, usually offered at the graduate level, are designed for software engineers seeking advanced training. Students learn to plan, design, and implement software development projects and applications. Programs typically require 4-5 courses in areas related to software engineering. Topics might include:

  • Object-Oriented Programming and Design
  • Software quality management
  • Project management
  • Software engineering
  • Software architecture

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Students who complete beginner level computer software programs have the skills to obtain administrative and office personnel positions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (, employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is expected to grow 12% from 2012 to 2022. In 2014, the median salary for secretaries and administrative assistants was $33,240 annually.

Employment of software developers is expected to grow at 22% from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS. Demand for software engineers will increase as the use and dependence on computers and computer networks grow. In 2014, the median salary was $102,880 for software developers.

Continuing Education Information

Software vendors, such as Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corporation, offer professional certification to software engineers who work with their specific technologies. Candidates for vendor-specific computer software certification generally must pass an examination which tests technical expertise in a particular product or system.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society offers professional certification, granting the designations Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA) and Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP). Entry-level software engineers may apply for CSDA status, while CDSPs must have at least four years of experience in the field. Both IEEE certifications require candidates to pass an exam. Continuing education is recommended for software engineers to maintain up-to-date computer software certification as technology advances.

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