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Top 11 Mainframe Developer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the best certifications for mainframe developers, including details on requirements, costs and potential career paths.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 16 min read

Certifications are an important part of the job market for mainframe developers, as they demonstrate a certain level of knowledge and experience. Certification can give employers confidence that a developer is knowledgeable and experienced in working with mainframe systems, as well as providing them with assurance that the candidate has been tested by an independent third party. Furthermore, certifications can help differentiate candidates from one another when applying for positions within the same field. This can give employers more confidence in making hiring decisions, as they know that certified individuals have met certain standards and criteria. In addition, certifications can also open up opportunities for mainframe developers to pursue more advanced roles or promotions within their current organization.

The purpose of this article is to review and explain the benefits of some of the top certifications for Mainframe Developers, which can help contribute to career growth and success.

What are Mainframe Developer Certifications?

Mainframe developer certification is a professional certification program that validates the knowledge and skills of professionals working with mainframe technologies. It is designed to provide employers with confidence that their employees are well-versed in the latest mainframe development practices and technologies. The certification also helps individuals recognize their own strengths, weaknesses, and capabilities when it comes to developing applications for mainframes.

The certification covers topics such as the fundamentals of programming languages like COBOL, Assembler, or PL/I; concepts of distributed computing; debugging techniques; performance tuning; system design and architecture; security considerations; and more. With this certification, developers can gain a greater understanding of how to develop efficient, secure applications for mainframes. Additionally, employers can use this certification to assess candidates’ competencies in mainframe development before making hiring decisions.

Overall, obtaining a mainframe developer certification can help individuals demonstrate their proficiency in developing applications for mainframes, as well as help employers find qualified candidates who have the necessary skillset for the job.

Pro Tip: When preparing for a mainframe developer certification, it is important to focus on the specific skills and technologies that are required for the exam. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly research the topics covered in the exam, so that you can be confident that you have a complete understanding of them before taking the test.

Related: What does a Mainframe Developer do?

Top 11 Mainframe Developer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Mainframe Developers today.

1. IBM Certified System Administrator - z/OS

IBM Certified System Administrator - z/OS is a certification program that recognizes the expertise and experience of system administrators who have demonstrated their ability to manage and maintain IBM’s z/OS operating system. This certification proves an individual's technical knowledge and skills in administering, configuring, and maintaining z/OS systems.

In order to get this certification, one must pass the IBM C2090-621 exam. This exam is designed to test your knowledge of the fundamentals of z/OS operations, installation and configuration, system management, problem determination, security administration, storage management and other related topics. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions with a passing score of 70%.

The cost for the exam varies depending on where you take it but typically ranges from $200 to $250 USD. It usually takes around 2 hours to complete the exam.

To prepare for the exam, you can use study materials such as books or online courses provided by IBM or other third-party vendors. Additionally, you can also find practice tests online which can help you assess your current level of understanding before taking the actual exam.

2. IBM Certified Application Developer - Enterprise COBOL for z/OS

IBM Certified Application Developer - Enterprise COBOL for z/OS is a professional certification program designed to validate the skills and knowledge of experienced application developers who are proficient in developing, maintaining and debugging applications using IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS. This certification is suitable for those who have experience in developing, maintaining and debugging applications using IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS.

The certification exam consists of multiple-choice questions that test the candidate’s knowledge of the language syntax, coding techniques, debugging techniques, performance optimization techniques and other related topics. Candidates must pass the exam to earn their certification.

It typically takes several months to prepare for this certification exam. Candidates should be familiar with the language syntax, coding techniques, debugging techniques and performance optimization techniques before attempting the exam. They should also have a good understanding of IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS and its associated toolsets. Additionally, candidates should be knowledgeable about system programming concepts such as memory management and I/O processing.

To get certified as an IBM Certified Application Developer - Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, you must pass the required certification exam. The cost of taking this exam varies depending on where you take it; however, it generally costs around $200 USD.

3. IBM Certified Application Developer - DB2 10 for z/OS

IBM Certified Application Developer - DB2 10 for z/OS is a professional certification program from IBM. It is designed to validate the skills and knowledge of experienced application developers working with DB2 10 for z/OS. This certification demonstrates that the individual has the necessary skills to design, develop, test, debug, and deploy applications using DB2 10 for z/OS.

It typically takes about three months of preparation time to become certified in this program. The preparation includes studying IBM's course materials and taking practice tests. Additionally, applicants must have at least one year of experience developing applications with DB2 10 for z/OS in order to qualify for the certification.

To get certified, individuals must pass two exams: Exam 611: DB2 10 for z/OS Database Administration and Exam 612: Programming with SQL Procedures. Both exams are administered by Pearson VUE testing centers worldwide.

The cost of the certification depends on the country where you take the exam; however, it typically costs around $200 USD per exam.

4. IBM Certified Database Administrator – DB2 10 for z/OS

IBM Certified Database Administrator – DB2 10 for z/OS is a professional certification program offered by IBM. It is designed to validate the skills and knowledge of database administrators who are working with IBM's DB2 10 for z/OS database system. This certification demonstrates an individual's ability to install, configure, maintain, and troubleshoot the DB2 10 for z/OS software.

The prerequisite for this certification is that the candidate must pass one of the following exams: Exam 730 - DB2 9 Fundamentals or Exam 731 - DB2 9 Database Administration.

In order to obtain this certification, candidates must take and pass two additional exams: Exam 736 - DB2 10 DBA for z/OS and Exam 737 - Advanced DBA for z/OS. The total time required to complete these exams depends on the individual’s experience level and preparation time.

Candidates can register for these exams through Pearson VUE or Prometric testing centers. The cost of each exam varies depending on the country in which it is taken; however, it typically ranges from $200-$300 USD per exam.

Overall, obtaining IBM Certified Database Administrator – DB2 10 for z/OS requires passing four exams and can take up to several months or longer depending on an individual’s experience level and preparation time.

5. IBM Certified System Programmer – z/OS

IBM Certified System Programmer – z/OS is a professional certification that validates the skills and expertise of IT professionals in the areas of system programming and operations on IBM’s z/OS platform. It is designed to demonstrate a mastery of the technical skills needed to install, configure, maintain, and troubleshoot z/OS systems.

To obtain this certification, you must pass two exams: C9020-561: IBM System z Security Solution Implementation and C9020-568: IBM Z Systems Technical Support V7. The exams are administered by Pearson VUE. Each exam costs $200 USD, so the total cost for both exams is $400 USD.

The time it takes to get certified depends on your experience level with the technology. Generally speaking, experienced system administrators can complete their certification within a few months if they dedicate enough time to studying for the exams. Those who are new to the technology may take longer as there is more material to cover.

6. IBM Certified System Operator – z/OS

IBM Certified System Operator – z/OS is a certification that validates the knowledge and skills of system operators on the IBM Z platform. It demonstrates an individual’s ability to install, configure, operate and maintain z/OS systems.

To become certified in this area, you must pass the IBM Certified System Operator – z/OS exam. This exam consists of multiple choice questions and covers topics such as system operation, problem diagnosis and resolution, system security, resource management, networking and communications. The exam is available in English only and takes approximately two hours to complete.

In order to take the IBM Certified System Operator – z/OS exam, you must first purchase an IBM Certification Test Voucher from Pearson VUE or Prometric Testing Centers. The cost of the voucher varies depending on the country you are taking it in but typically ranges from $200 - $400 USD. Once you have purchased your voucher, you can register for the exam online at either Pearson VUE or Prometric Testing Centers.

Once you have successfully passed the exam, you will receive your certificate via email within 5-7 business days. You will also be able to view your certification status online through your My Certifications page on IBM's website.

7. IBM Certified Solution Expert – CICS Transaction Server V5.1

IBM Certified Solution Expert – CICS Transaction Server V5.1 is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual’s expertise in the design, implementation and management of IBM CICS Transaction Server V5.1. It is designed to validate an individual’s ability to develop and manage complex applications using the latest version of the CICS Transaction Server.

To obtain this certification, individuals must pass two exams: C2090-616: IBM CICS Transaction Server V5.1 System Administration and C2090-617: IBM CICS Transaction Server V5.1 Implementation. These exams are administered by PearsonVUE and can be taken at any authorized testing center or online through PearsonVUE’s website.

The cost of taking these exams is $200 USD each, making the total cost of obtaining this certification $400 USD. The amount of time it takes to prepare for these exams will vary depending on the individual’s experience level with IBM CICS Transaction Server V5.1; however, most people should be able to complete their studies within one month if they dedicate enough time to studying for the exams.

8. IBM Certified Specialist – IMS V10 Administration and Operations

IBM Certified Specialist – IMS V10 Administration and Operations is a certification that validates the skills and knowledge of professionals in the administration and operations of IBM’s IMS V10 database. This certification is designed to demonstrate a professional's ability to install, configure, manage, maintain, troubleshoot and optimize an IMS V10 environment.

The IBM Certified Specialist – IMS V10 Administration and Operations certification requires passing one exam. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 90 minutes to complete.

To obtain the IBM Certified Specialist – IMS V10 Administration and Operations certification, you must first register for the exam through Pearson VUE. Once registered, you can take the exam at any Pearson VUE testing center or online via their OnVUE system. The cost of the exam is $200 USD.

9. IBM Certified Specialist – WebSphere MQ V7 Administration and Support

IBM Certified Specialist – WebSphere MQ V7 Administration and Support is a certification that demonstrates an individual’s ability to install, configure, and maintain IBM WebSphere MQ Version 7. It also validates the skills needed to develop messaging solutions using WebSphere MQ.

To get this certification, you must pass the C9510-418: IBM WebSphere MQ V7.0 System Administration exam. This exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 90 minutes. It costs $200 USD to take the exam.

You can prepare for the exam by taking courses such as Introduction to WebSphere MQ V7 Administration and Support or Advanced WebSphere MQ V7 Administration and Support offered by IBM or other training providers. Additionally, you can read up on material such as the IBM Redbooks for WebSphere MQ Version 7 and use practice tests to help you prepare for the exam.

10. IBM Certified Advanced Technical Expert – Storage Management on z/OS

IBM Certified Advanced Technical Expert – Storage Management on z/OS is a certification designed to recognize the skills and knowledge of professionals who have mastered the advanced concepts and techniques related to storage management on the IBM z/OS operating system. This certification requires an individual to demonstrate their expertise in areas such as storage architecture, capacity planning, performance tuning, problem determination, automation, and disaster recovery.

It typically takes 6-12 months of preparation to become certified. The best way to prepare for this certification is by taking an IBM-approved course or self-study with materials from IBM’s website. Additionally, individuals should have at least 3 years of experience working with storage management on the IBM z/OS operating system.

The cost of the IBM Certified Advanced Technical Expert – Storage Management on z/OS certification varies depending on the type of exam taken and the region in which it is taken. Generally speaking, it costs around $200 USD per exam.

11. IBM Professional Certification Program - Mainframe Solutions

The IBM Professional Certification Program – Mainframe Solutions is an industry-recognized certification program designed to validate the knowledge and skills of IT professionals who work with IBM mainframes. This program provides a way for individuals to demonstrate their expertise in the areas of z/OS, z/VM, CICS, and DB2.

The certification process takes approximately 4-6 weeks from start to finish. To get certified, candidates must first register for the exam through the IBM Professional Certification website. Once registered, they will be provided with access to study materials and practice tests that can help them prepare for the actual exam. The cost of the exam varies depending on which level of certification is being sought (e.g., Associate or Professional). Generally speaking, exams range from $200-$500 USD. Upon successful completion of the exam, candidates will receive an official IBM certificate that validates their expertise in working with IBM mainframes.

Do You Really Need a Mainframe Developer Certificate?

The answer to this question ultimately depends on your goals. If you are looking for a job in the mainframe development field, then having a mainframe developer certificate may be beneficial because it demonstrates that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the job. On the other hand, if you already have experience in mainframe development, then a certificate may not be necessary. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether or not obtaining a mainframe developer certificate is worth the time and effort.

When considering whether or not to pursue a mainframe developer certificate, it is important to consider what type of certification would be most beneficial for your career goals. Some certifications focus on specific programming languages while others cover broader topics such as system architecture and design. Also consider how difficult it will be to obtain the certification, as some certifications require extensive study and practice before they can be obtained. You should also take into account any potential cost associated with obtaining the certification, such as registration fees or course materials.

In conclusion, whether or not you need a mainframe developer certificate depends on your individual situation and goals. It is important to carefully weigh all options before making a decision so that you can make an informed choice that best fits your needs.

Related: Mainframe Developer Resume Examples

FAQs About Mainframe Developer Certifications

Q1. What is a Mainframe Developer Certification?

Answer: A Mainframe Developer Certification is an industry-recognized credential that verifies an individual’s knowledge and skill in developing applications for IBM mainframes using the COBOL, CICS, JCL, DB2 and other related programming languages.

Q2. How do I become certified as a Mainframe Developer?

Answer: To become certified as a Mainframe Developer, you must pass the IBM Certified Application Developer certification exam. This exam tests your ability to design and implement application solutions on the IBM mainframe platform.

Q3. What are the prerequisites for achieving the Mainframe Developer Certification?

Answer: To be eligible to take the IBM Certified Application Developer certification exam, you must have at least two years of experience in developing applications for IBM mainframes. You should also be familiar with programming languages such as COBOL, CICS, JCL, DB2 and others related to mainframes.

Q4. How long does it take to complete the certification process?

Answer: The time it takes to complete the certification process varies depending on your experience level and how quickly you can study and prepare for the exam. Generally speaking, it should take anywhere from 3-6 months of preparation before taking the exam.

Q5. Is there any cost associated with obtaining a Mainframe Developer Certification?

Answer: Yes, there is a fee associated with taking the IBM Certified Application Developer certification exam which is currently $200 USD per attempt.

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