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Frequently Asked Questions

On this page you will find frequently asked questions about the Inter­na­tional Software Architecture Quali­fi­cation Board (iSAQB®), and the Certified Profes­sional for Software Architecture (CPSA®). Do you have further questions? Please contact us!

  • All FAQs
  • Advanced Level
  • Advanced Level Exam
  • Associ­ation
  • Foundation Level
  • Foundation Level Exam
  • Members

Are credit points awarded for partic­i­pation in online training courses at Advanced Level?

For online training courses at Advanced Level you will receive an official iSAQB partic­i­pation certificate with the respective credit points.

Are partic­i­pation certifi­cates for Advanced Level training courses also issued if a training course has to be cancelled through no fault of one’s own, or if the partic­i­pation is delayed?

For Advanced Level training courses, partic­i­pation certifi­cates with the desig­nated credit points can only be issued if a partic­ipant has attended at least 75% of the training. If less than 75% have been completed, the intended credit points may not be awarded. It is necessary to repeat the entire training or to make up for the missing part in order to earn the credit points. In any case, this regulation also applies to reasons that are not the fault of the partic­ipant (e.g. illness, accidents, traffic jams, etc.).

Are there different exami­nation condi­tions for non-native speakers?

In case the exami­nation language is not your mother tongue, the duration of the exami­nation can be extended to 90 minutes (net). Please indicate 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.

Can I take a CPSA‑F exam without a preparatory training course?

To prepare for the Foundation Level exam, partic­i­pation in classroom or online training from an iSAQB® Accredited Training Provider is highly recom­mended. An accredited CPSA‑F® training course usually lasts three to four days, and covers all relevant topics of the exam.

However, it is also possible to take the CPSA‑F® exam without attending a Foundation Level training course. We recommend the following liter­ature for independent exam preparation:

Do credit points earned from attended Advanced Level training courses expire?

Credit points, once you have earned them, are valid indef­i­nitely and do not expire. 

How can I find a certification body for the CPSA exam?

You can find all information about the certification bodies here.

How can you become a member of the iSAQB?

You can apply for membership or sponsorship at any time (a corre­sponding form is available here). As an active member, you should spend approx­i­mately ten days a year working for the iSAQB — within one or more working groups of your choice. Preference will be given to new members who have experience in training software architects.

How do I receive proof of credit points?

Accredited training providers issue partic­i­pants who attend an Advanced Level training course with a certificate of atten­dance with the credit points they have earned. The confir­mation of partic­i­pation is regarded as official proof for applying for an Advanced Level examination.

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 40 questions (as the number of points allocated to individual questions varies and questions are randomized, 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 courses 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 certification body – which will also be in charge of assessment and necessary formal­ities. This organi­zation 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.

How is CPSA program different from TOGAF certification?

Alongside the TOGAF training, the CPSA program rates highly in companies inter­na­tionally. Compared to the TOGAF training, the CPSA program generally places more emphasis on the practical imple­men­tation of IT systems.

How is the curriculum at CPSA-Foundation Level being developed further? Is it possible to take part in the devel­opment process?

Within the iSAQB, the Foundation Level working group is committed to further devel­opment and updating of the CPSA-Foundation Level curriculum. Together, the experts of the working group contribute sugges­tions for improvement, and evaluate change notices, which all inter­ested parties can post as “GitHub Issues” in the public repos­itory at https://github.com/isaqb-org/curriculum-foundation/issues. Each release cycle is two years. Changes in the curricula usually affect existing training courses of training providers as well as the current exam questions. All training providers and licensed certification bodies will be notified of any changes well in advance of the release of a new curriculum.

How long is a success­fully completed CPSA certification valid?

A CPSA certification is valid for life, just like a university degree.

How much does the Advanced Level exam cost?

The exami­nation fee for one partic­ipant is 1,700.00 EUR plus VAT.

I failed the CPSA-Foundation Level exam. Can I repeat it?

The CPSA-Foundation Level exam can be repeated several times without any waiting period.

I have lost my certificate. Can it be reissued?

If your certificate has been lost, you can contact the certification body that took your exam or the iSAQB. Generally, you can request a copy of your certificate within 10 years after the date of the exam.

I’m a student. Can I take the Advanced Level exami­nation as well?

The Advanced Level exami­nation is aimed at people with profes­sional experience, see also the requirements in the Advanced Level Exami­nation Rules. If you are a student with work experience, it is best to check whether you meet all the requirements using the Advanced Level Exami­nation Rules.

Is it possible to attend Advanced Level training courses without an existing CPSA Foundation Level certification and earn credit points for it?

Software archi­tects who do not yet have a Foundation Level certification can also partic­ipate in the Advanced Level training courses. Successful partic­i­pation in the Advanced Level courses earns credit points, which are required for a possible Advanced Level exam. However, a prereq­uisite for applying for an Advanced Level exam is always a success­fully passed Foundation Level exam.

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.

May I use other success­fully completed certi­fi­ca­tions instead of attending Advanced Level training to register for an Advanced Level exam?

If you are a partic­ipant and have previ­ously been certified elsewhere, you might be able to submit an appli­cation for accred­i­tation of your certifi­cates to the iSAQB. For these certifi­cates, you will be awarded with a certain amount of credit points in one or more areas of competence.

Therefore, the iSAQB has accepted certain certifi­cates. The following certifi­cates for the Advanced Level are acknowledged:

Certificate Acknowl­edged Credit Points
technical methodical commu­nicative
SEI SOA Architect Profes­sional Certificate 20 0 0
SEI Software Architecture Profes­sional Certificate 0 20 0
SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method® (ATAM®) Evaluator 0 15 0
SEI Architecture Tradeoff Analysis Method® (ATAM®) Leader 0 20 0
SEI PLTP Team Member 20 0 0
SEI PLTP Leader 20 10 0
Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA) 10 10 0
Open Group TOGAF 9 Foundation 0 10 0
Open Group TOGAF 9 Certified 0 20 0

What does the Advanced Level curriculum include?

For the purpose of CPSA‑A training, the iSAQB has defined the three following areas of competence:

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

What does the Foundation Level curriculum include?

The CPSA‑F (Foundation Level) consists of the following parts:

  1. Basics of software architecture, role and task of software architects
  2. Description and commu­ni­cation of software architectures
  3. Design and devel­opment of software architecture
  4. Architecture and quality
  5. Tools for software architects
  6. Examples of software architectures

 

Part 1–5 are relevant to the CPSA‑F certification exam.

The detailed learning content and learning objectives can be found in the official curriculum, here online or for download.

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

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

Certification bodies organize the CPSA‑F and CPSA‑A exami­nation – but must not offer any training or seminars in this area themselves.

What is the difference between system types in the selection of exami­nation tasks?

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”.

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 areas of compe­tence. It is possible that credit points are no longer rewarded for one of the three compe­tence areas, so you would have to cover this compe­tence area with another seminar. However, there have only been very few changes so far.

Which requirements must I 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. Excep­tions can be granted upon appli­cation (for instance involvement in open source projects).
  • Training and further education within the scope of iSAQB Advanced Level trainings of at least 70 credit points. All three areas of compe­tence must be covered with at least 10 credit points each. Existing certi­fi­ca­tions can be credited to these credit points upon application.
  • Successful completion of the CPSA‑A certification task, including an interview with two independent examiners appointed by the iSAQB.

Which requirements must I fulfil to access Foundation Level certification?

Partic­i­pants should have the following knowledge and/or experience:

  • At least 18 months of practical experience in software devel­opment, acquired by programming various projects or systems outside of education.
  • Knowledge of and practical experience in at least one higher programming language.
  • Basics of modelling and abstraction.
  • Basics of UML (class, package, component and sequence diagrams) and their relation to source code.
  • Practical experience in technical documen­tation, especially in the documen­tation of source code, system designs or technical concepts.

Helpful for the under­standing of some concepts are also:

  • Knowledge of object orientation
  • Practical experience in at least one object-oriented programming language
  • Practical experience in the design and imple­men­tation of distributed appli­ca­tions, such as client/server systems or web applications

 

We consider it useful to prepare for the CPSA‑F exam by attending an accredited training course – but in general you can also take a CPSA‑F exam without training.

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 organi­zation. The iSAQB e. V. brings together various software architecture experts. Its members include profes­sionals from industry, consulting, training, academia, and other organi­za­tions or associations.

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

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

Who may offer and conduct CPSA-Advanced Level training?

Trainings at CPSA-Advanced Level may only be offered and conducted by training providers accredited by the iSAQB. Accredited training providers have proven the high quality of their CPSA training offers and are committed to the iSAQB accred­i­tation conditions.

Who may offer and conduct CPSA-Foundation Level training?

In order to be able to offer and conduct training courses, an accred­i­tation by the iSAQB is required. That means that training providers commit themselves to the accred­i­tation condi­tions of the iSAQB. For more details, please see our accred­i­tation info page.

Why become a finan­cially supporting (sponsoring) 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 course providers and certification 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 course 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 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.

Will the assignment for the Advanced Level exam be subject to a plagiarism check?

All assign­ments by partic­i­pants of the Advanced Level exami­nation are first subjected to a plagiarism check by the certification bodies, which results in an exami­nation report. This exami­nation report is then forwarded to the respon­sible examiners for evalu­ation, along with the assignment.

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All CPSA® training courses are conducted by iSAQB® Accredited Trainers and Training Providers. Profit from these excellent iSAQB partners!

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