Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This is where you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning iSAQB und the CPSA certification programme.

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Common questions concerning the iSAQB

What do ‘iSAQB’ and ‘CPSA’ mean?

iSAQB = International Software Architecture Qualification Board

CPSA: Certified Professional for Software Architecture. The umbrella term for all three iSAQB certification levels:

  1. CPSA-F (Foundation Level), the basics
  2. CPSA-A (Advanced Level), the certification for advanced software architects, which can be tailored according to individual requirements
  3. CPSA-E (Expert Level), currently still in progress.

Who are the people behind the association, and what are its aims?

The association was founded in 2008 by about 20 volunteers and is a non-profit organisation. The iSAQB e. V. brings together various software architecture experts. Its members include professionals from industry, consulting, training, academia and other organisations or associations.

A list of current active members can be found online here.

The purpose of the association is to standardise the training of software architects internationally.

How international is the iSAQB?

Currently (January 2016), the association is mainly active in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, whilst the executive board and the working group ‘Internationalisation’ are also engaged in cooperation talks with organisations in other countries, e. g., Malaysia. Since April 2014 there is a cooperation between the iSAQB and IASA, the International Association of Software Architects, based in Austin, TX, USA.

Our members are from Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Egpyt, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia and the USA.

How can you become a member of the iSAQB?

  • Submit an application for membership or sponsorship (the relevant form can be accessed online here).
  • As an active member, you should spend approximately ten days a year working for or submitting designs to the iSAQB – within a working group or several working groups of your choice.
  • The iSAQB prefers applications from persons experienced in the training of software architects.

Why become a financially-supporting member of the iSAQB?

We take care of the development and administration of standard curricula for software architects (CPSA Certified Professional for Software Architecture®). This includes the definition of exams for certification based on the CPSA curricula as well as guaranteeing the professional quality of further training for software architects. The iSAQB e. V. (registered non-profit association) itself does not provide trainings or exams, but determines examination rules and regulations, grants licenses to training providers and certifying bodies and defines and supervises the necessary processes. All activities of the iSAQB e. V. are based on voluntary work – the active members don’t receive any earnings or fees for their contribution.

As financially-supporting member you become part of a broad network of experienced software architects. You benefit from the know-how of the members, who are often also training providers. Make new contacts with industry experts and maybe even find new employees over the network.

Financially-supporting members are presented on the iSAQB website under Sponsoring Board Members . You can be presented with your company’s logo there and so show your membership of our well-respected association!

Financially-supporting members are allowed to dispatch a member, who can contribute to the association’s working groups. Thus, own demands on the curricula can be introduced.

How does the iSAQB compare with other certification schemes?

As opposed to other certification organisations, the iSAQB’s work is entirely product and technology neutral. Its articles of association strictly prohibit any commercial interest.

Its structure and organisation are similar to those of the International Software Testing Qualification Board (iSTQB) as well as the International Requirements Engineering Board (IREB).

Questions concerning training and curricula

How is the Foundation Level curriculum produced and developed?

A working group exists within the iSAQB, whose 8-10 expert members make or assess suggestions for improvement together. This is a public working group, i. e., every active member can join.

Any modified curriculum will be submitted for review to the entire association and all training providers.

The working group will make independent decisions on minor amendments; major (structural) modifications require the association’s agreement.

Where can I find the CPSA curricula (Foundation and Advanced)?

Official curricula of the Foundation Level can be accessed via the iSAQB download page.

Official curricula of the Advanced Level can be accessed via the Advanced Level page of the iSAQB.

What does the Foundation Level curriculum contain?

The CPSA-F (Foundation Level) consists of the following components:

  1. Software architecture basics, roles and responsibilities of software architects
  2. Description and communication of software architectures
  3. Design and development of software architectures
  4. Architecture and quality
  5. Tools for software architects
  6. Examples of software architectures

Components 1-5 are relevant for the CPSA-F certification examination.

Please refer to the official curriculum for detailed content information and learning goals, available online and to download here.

What does the Advanced Level curriculum contain?

For the purpose of CPSA-A training, the iSAQB has defined the three following skills areas:

  • Methodical skills: a systematic approach to architectural tasks, regardless of the technologies used
  • Technological skills: knowledge and implementation of technology solutions used in design tasks
  • Communicative skills: communication, presentation, argumentation and moderation skills as well as the ability to cooperate productively with different stakeholders

There are two possibilities of acquiring or demonstrating the skills required for these skills areas:

    1. Through licensed training, based on a curriculum module of the iSAQB Advanced Level curriculum
    2. Through accreditation of a different, external certificate not defined by the iSAQB. Since 1st July 2015 the recognition phase of third-party soft skill certificates is over. The current external certificates accepted by the iSAQB can be found via the Advanced Level page of the iSAQB.

The list is subject to change. Changes become effective on 31 December of each year.

Important: one of the prerequisites for being awarded a CPSA-A (Advanced Level) is a successfully passed CPSA-F examination (Foundation Level)!

Who can offer training?

As a matter of principle, anybody can – but they must be licensed by the iSAQB. As a consequence, training providers will have to undertake to adhere to the licence terms and conditions of the iSAQB. Here is a brief summary of what this entails:

  • Training carried out using the iSAQB logo must cover the content of (at least) the subject matter defined in the relevant curricula.
  • The association’s logo and the CPSA-F/CPSA-A logos must only be used for the specified purposes and by licensed companies or individuals.
  • There is an annual licence fee for licensing training providers.
  • Every licensed training provider:
    • must carry out at least one CPSA-F or CPSA-A training course per year (advertising is not sufficient in itself);
    • agrees to have their training audited by the working group Audit, which is independent from training companies, as well as to redress any defects in content or organisation that may have been discovered during an audit immediately;
    • must provide at least three (new!) examination questions for CPSA-F per year.

Does the CPSA training qualify as educational leave?

Currently (as of January 2016) we are not aware of any CPSA training, which qualifies as educational leave. To make sure, please contact the training provider of your choice.
 

Why do I get other credit points from my training provider than those mentioned on the iSAQB homepage for this training?

After a curriculum revision there is a transition period of 6 months. When the allocation of the credit points is also concerned by the revision, the training provider can grant you credit points either according to the old allocation or the new one. Please contact your training provider in this matter. The current credit points are given in each syllabus downloadable via the Advanced Level page of the iSAQB.

Why are there not enough iSAQB trainings available outside Western Europe?

Currently there are only few license holders in the non-German-speaking countries to be able to offer iSAQB trainings in all other countries. However we receive many requests from people willing to register for a training. So, if you are interested to become training provider we would be happy to receive your message at contact@isaqb.org

Questions concerning certification

What requirements must I fulfil to access Foundation Level certification?

Participants should have the following prior knowledge and/or experience:

  • More than 18 months practical experience with software development, gained through programming a variety of projects or systems outside of training
  • Knowledge of and practical experience with at least one higher programming language
  • Principles of modelling and abstraction
  • Principles of UML (class, package, component and sequence diagrams) and their correlations with source code
  • Practical experience with technical documentation, in particular with documenting source code, system designs or technical concepts

Furthermore, the following will be useful for understanding certain concepts:

  • Knowledge of object orientation
  • Practical experience with a minimum of one object-oriented programming language
  • Practical experience with designing and implementing distributed applications, such as client-server systems or web applications

We feel it is advisable to take part in one of the licensed training courses to prepare for the CPSA-F examination – but in principle you could also sit a CPSA-F examination without having undergone training.

What requirements must if fulfil to access Advanced Level certification?

  • Successful training and certification at CPSA-F level (Certified Professional for Software Architecture, Foundation Level)
  • A minimum of three years’ full-time professional experience in the IT industry, including the involvement in the design and development of at least two different IT systems
    • Waivers can be granted upon application (for instance involvement in open source projects).
  • Continuing professional development through the iSAQB Advanced Level training with a minimum of 70 credit points. All three skills areas must be covered.
    • Upon application, existing certifications can be allowed to count towards credit points. The current external certificates accepted by the iSAQB can be found via the Advanced Level page of the iSAQB.
  • Successful completion of the CPSA-A certification task, including an interview with two independent examiners appointed by the iSAQB

May I call myself “Software Architect” after passing the exam?

The CPSA certification is not a vocational qualification, but a proof of knowledge in the field of software architecture. The iSAQB is not entitled to award vocational qualifications, so we propose you call yourself “Certified Professional for Software Architecture by iSAQB” after passing the exam.

In Germany it is unclear, if it is legally allowed to call oneself “Software Architect”. We recommend you inform yourself about the laws regarding the vocational qualifications in your country.

Questions concerning the CPSA-F examination

How can I find a certifying body for the CPSA-F (Foundation Level) examination?

Currently (January 2016), the following organisations are licensed certifying bodies for CPSA-F examinations:

All providers offer examinations at international level.

How does the certification examination for CPSA-F (Foundation Level) work?

The actual CPSA-F examination consists of a multiple-choice test of approx. 75 minutes, in which you will be required to answer roughly 60 questions (as the number of points allocated to individual questions varies and questions are randomised, the exact number of questions can vary depending on which questions are drawn). You will be awarded points for every correct answer, and you will need to achieve 60% of the examination’s maximum possible points score in order to pass.

Candidates usually attend licensed training in order to prepare for this examination, but in terms of formal requirements you could also complete the examination without having taken part in any training.

The examination will be carried out by a licensed certifying body – which will also be in charge of assessment and necessary formalities. This organisation will then provide you with your examination result, usually within a week of completion of the examination, and also your official CPSA-F certificate if you have passed the examination.

What is the difference between a certifying body and a training provider?

The iSAQB has stipulated that there be a formal and organisational separation between training providers and certifying bodies – hence these two different roles. Training providers offer training, courses, workshops in order to prepare you for the CPSA-F examination for instance, or your CPSA-A examination project.

Certifying bodies organise the (multiple-choice CPSA-F) examination – but must not offer any training or seminars in this area themselves.

Are there different examination conditions for non-native speakers?

In case your mother tongue is not English or German the duration of the examination can be extended to 90 minutes (net). Please mention this when registering with the certification body.

Are there different examination conditions for the visually impaired?

In case you are profoundly visually impaired the duration of the examination can be extended to 90 minutes (net). Questions and possible answers can be read to you by the examiner. Please mention this when registering with the certification body.

Questions concerning the CPSA-A examination

How long are credit points valid?

The credit points you obtained remain valid for an indefinite period.

What should I consider regarding credit points?

The credit points can be revaluated by the iSAQB every 12 months. If you plan your training measures over some years you should consider this, in case you focus mostly on the number of points for the individual seminars. This revaluation can apply to the number of points as well as to the distribution to the skill areas. It is possible, that credit points are no longer given for one of the three skill areas, so that you would have to cover this skill area with another seminar. However, there were only very few changes so far.

How do I find a certifying body for the CPSA-A-(Advanced-Level) exam?

Currently (as of January 2016) the following organisations are licensed certifying bodies for CPSA-A exams:

Both hold international exams.

What is the difference between the types of the systems?

A web system has a very high share of web specifics (browser-based application, often focussing on internet-relevant properties like scalability or security). Web portals and web shops are typical examples for this type of system.

An information system allows an interactive use (in contrast to embedded systems or batch systems). In the end, web systems are information systems, too. Actually, some web systems are classified wrongly as information systems at the moment. In contrast to web systems e. g., desktop applications, client/server applications with rich non-web-clients and also classic enterprise applications belong to the category “information systems”.

I would like to know something about examination requirements, preparing for the exam, registration and examination structure!

Maybe your questions can be answered by looking at
Advanced Level Examination Rules and Regulations

If not, please contact us via the
Contact Form of the iSAQB e. V.

I’m a student at university. Can I take the Advanced Level Exam?

The Advanced Level Exam is for persons with work experience, see also the requirements in the Advanced Level Examination Rules and Regulations. In case you are a student at university with work experience, check according to Advanced Level Examination Rules and Regulations, if you fulfill all requirements.

Can I take the Advanced Level exam in English?

Currently it is only possible take the exam in English, if you choose the type of system “information system”. The other types of system are in preparation.