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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.

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 certi­fying body for the CPSA exam?

You can find all information about the certi­fying 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 online here). As an active member, you should spend appro­xi­mately ten days a year working for 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 iSAQB compliment TOGAF?

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 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 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 course 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.

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 certi­fying 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 take part in the Advanced Level training without existing certification?

Even software archi­tects who do not yet have Foundation Level certification and/or do not wish to obtain Advanced Level certification can parti­cipate in the Advanced Level training courses, it is of great value for their daily work.

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 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

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 certi­fying body and a training provider?

The iSAQB has stipu­lated that there be a formal and organi­sa­tional separation between training course providers and certi­fying 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.

Certi­fying 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 the system types in the selection of the 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 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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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 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.

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 certi­fying 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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