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Top 11 Principal Software Engineer Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for principal software engineers, including details on the requirements and benefits of each.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 18 min read

Certifications for a principal software engineer are important in the job market because they demonstrate to employers that the engineer has the necessary technical skills and knowledge to effectively perform the job. Additionally, certifications provide evidence of an engineer's commitment to professional development and staying up-to-date on new technologies and trends in their field. Employers may also use certifications as a way to differentiate between candidates when making hiring decisions. Finally, certifications can help an engineer stand out in the job market by making them appear more qualified and experienced than other applicants.

This article reviews some of the top certifications for Principal Software Engineers and explains how they can help enhance a principal software engineer's career.

What are Principal Software Engineer Certifications?

Principal software engineer certification is a professional certification that is designed to recognize and validate the expertise of experienced software engineers. This certification recognizes individuals who have achieved a high level of proficiency in developing, managing, and maintaining complex software systems. The certification is awarded by professional organizations like the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

This certification can help software engineers in several ways. Firstly, it provides recognition to their expertise in developing and managing complex software systems. It also serves as a validation of their knowledge and abilities, which can help them stand out from other applicants when seeking new positions or promotions. The certification can also provide additional credibility when negotiating with potential employers or clients. Finally, it may open up opportunities for further education or training by providing access to specialized courses or seminars offered by IEEE or ACM.

Pro Tip: When considering a principal software engineer certification, make sure to research the specific requirements of certifying organizations and focus on any areas that are currently lacking in your knowledge or skills. Additionally, look for courses or programs that offer comprehensive coverage of the topics you will need to know in order to pass the certification exam.

Related: What does a Principal Software Engineer do?

Top 11 Principal Software Engineer Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Principal Software Engineers today.

1. Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP)

Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP) is a certification program offered by the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP). The CSDP certification is designed to recognize the advanced knowledge, skills and abilities of experienced software developers. It is an internationally recognized credential that demonstrates a mastery of software development principles and practices.

The CSDP certification requires a minimum of two years of professional experience in software development as well as passing a rigorous exam. The exam covers topics such as software design, coding, testing, debugging, project management, and more.

To get the CSDP certification, you must first submit an application to ICCP. Once your application is approved, you will be required to pay a fee and then take the exam at an approved testing center. The fee for the exam varies depending on your location and can range from $400-$800 USD.

Once you have successfully passed the exam, you will be awarded with your CSDP certification which is valid for three years. To maintain your certification status, you must complete 40 hours of continuing education every three years or retake the exam every five years.

2. Certified Software Quality Engineer (CSQE)

Certified Software Quality Engineer (CSQE) is a professional certification program offered by the American Society for Quality (ASQ). The CSQE is designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate knowledge and experience in software quality engineering. It is intended to provide assurance that those who hold this credential have the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities to perform software quality engineering tasks effectively.

The CSQE requires applicants to pass an exam which consists of 150 multiple-choice questions. The exam covers topics such as software quality management, software testing, requirements analysis, design and implementation, and process improvement. The exam typically takes three hours to complete.

To be eligible for the CSQE certification, applicants must have at least five years of professional experience in software quality engineering or related fields. They must also have a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field from an accredited college or university.

The cost of taking the CSQE exam varies depending on location and other factors. Generally speaking, it costs around $400-$500 USD to take the exam. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with registering for the exam and obtaining study materials.

3. Certified Software Test Engineer (CSTE)

Certified Software Test Engineer (CSTE) is a professional certification that recognizes an individual’s knowledge and skills in software testing. It is offered by the Quality Assurance Institute (QAI). The CSTE certification validates a tester’s ability to apply best practices in software testing, develop test plans, and execute tests.

The CSTE exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions that must be completed within three hours. To become certified, applicants must pass the exam with a score of at least 70%.

To get the CSTE certification, you must first register for the exam on the QAI website. After registering, applicants can purchase study materials from QAI or other sources to prepare for the exam. Once you have passed the exam, you will receive your certificate and be listed as a Certified Software Test Engineer on QAI’s website.

The cost of the CSTE certification varies depending on where you take it. In most cases, it costs around $500 USD to take the exam and receive your certificate.

4. Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP)

Certified Systems Engineering Professional (CSEP) is a professional certification program offered by the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). It is designed to recognize and validate the knowledge, skills, and abilities of systems engineers in their practice of systems engineering.

The CSEP certification requires applicants to have at least five years of experience in systems engineering or related fields. Applicants must also pass an examination that tests their knowledge of the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook, which covers topics such as system architecture, requirements engineering, design and development processes, and verification and validation.

To get certified as a CSEP, applicants must first submit an application to INCOSE. After their application has been reviewed and approved, they will be able to register for the CSEP exam. The exam consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section and an essay section. The multiple-choice section covers topics from the INCOSE Systems Engineering Handbook while the essay section requires applicants to demonstrate their understanding of systems engineering principles by writing an essay on a given topic.

The cost for taking the CSEP exam varies depending on where you take it. In general, it costs around $600-$700 USD for both parts of the exam. Once you have passed both sections of the exam with a score of 70% or higher, you will be awarded your CSEP certification.

Overall, getting certified as a CSEP can take several months depending on how quickly you can complete all necessary steps such as submitting your application and studying for the exam.

5. Certified Cloud Computing Professional (CCCP)

Certified Cloud Computing Professional (CCCP) is a certification offered by the Cloud Credential Council (CCC). It is designed to validate an individual’s knowledge and experience in cloud computing. The certification covers all aspects of cloud computing, including architecture, security, operations, and development.

It takes approximately 6-9 months to complete the program and obtain the CCCP certification. To get certified, you must first pass a series of exams that cover topics such as cloud architecture, security, operations, and development. After passing the exams, you must also complete a project demonstrating your understanding of cloud computing principles and practices.

The cost of obtaining the CCCP certification varies depending on the provider offering it. Generally speaking, it can range from $1,500 - $3,000 USD for the entire program.

6. Certified Database Administrator (CDBA)

A Certified Database Administrator (CDBA) is a professional certification that verifies an individual’s expertise in database management and administration. The certification is awarded by the International Association of Database Administrators (IADBA). It requires a combination of education, experience, and passing a rigorous exam.

It typically takes between six months to one year to complete the necessary requirements for the CDBA certification. To become certified, you must first pass an online application process. This includes providing evidence of your educational background, work experience, and any other relevant qualifications. Once approved, you will need to take a series of exams to demonstrate your knowledge of database management and administration.

The cost for the CDBA certification varies depending on the provider. Generally speaking, it can range from $1,000 to $2,500 USD for the entire process including application fees and exam fees.

7. Certified Security Professional (CSP)

Certified Security Professional (CSP) is a certification program designed to provide professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively manage security operations in an organization. The CSP program is administered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2).

The CSP program consists of two parts: a written exam and a practical application of the material learned during the course. The written exam covers topics such as risk management, security architecture, access control, cryptography, network security, and system security. The practical application involves completing a series of hands-on exercises that demonstrate an understanding of the material covered on the written exam.

It typically takes about six months to complete the CSP program. During this time, candidates must take and pass both the written exam and practical application components. Candidates can prepare for the exams by taking online or in-person courses offered by ISC2 or other approved training providers.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on which type of certification you are seeking. Generally speaking, it costs around $500-$1,000 USD for each component (written exam and practical application). In addition to this fee, there may be additional fees associated with any required training courses or materials.

8. Certified Network Engineer (CNE)

A Certified Network Engineer (CNE) is a professional certification that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge and expertise in network engineering. The CNE certification covers topics such as network design, implementation, management, security, and troubleshooting. It is designed to validate the skills of experienced IT professionals who work in the field of networking.

It typically takes between one to two years to become a Certified Network Engineer. To qualify for the certification, candidates must have at least three years of experience in designing, implementing, configuring and managing networks. They must also pass a series of exams that cover topics such as routing protocols, network architecture and security.

To get certified as a CNE, you must first register with an approved training provider or exam center. Once registered, you can begin studying for the CNE certification exams. You will need to pass all four exams in order to become a Certified Network Engineer.

The cost of becoming a CNE varies depending on the training provider or exam center you choose. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$2,000 USD for all four exams and associated materials.

9. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure (MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure) is a certification that validates the skills of IT professionals who are responsible for designing, implementing, and managing cloud-based solutions. This certification covers topics such as virtualization, networking, storage, identity management, security, disaster recovery, and more.

It typically takes around six months to complete the requirements for this certification. To get certified, you must first take an instructor-led training course or self-study course from Microsoft Learning. After completing the coursework, you will need to pass two exams: Exam 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions and Exam 70-537: Configuring and Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack.

The cost for the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification depends on the type of training you choose. Self-study courses can range from $300 to $500 depending on the provider. Instructor-led courses can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the length of the program. Additionally, there is a fee of $165 per exam that must be paid when registering for each exam.

10. Oracle Certified Master, Java EE Enterprise Edition 6 Web Services Developer

Oracle Certified Master, Java EE Enterprise Edition 6 Web Services Developer is an advanced certification program that requires a high level of expertise in developing web services using the Java Platform, Enterprise Edition (Java EE) 6. It is designed to validate the skills and knowledge necessary to develop secure, reliable and scalable web services applications.

This certification requires passing two exams: 1Z0-899: Java EE 6 Web Services Developer Certified Expert Exam and 1Z0-900: Oracle Certified Master, Java EE 6 Web Services Developer Professional Exam. The first exam covers topics such as XML technologies, web services standards, SOAP and WSDL, JAX-WS and JAXB APIs, WS-Security and WS-Addressing. The second exam focuses on more advanced topics such as RESTful web services, JAX-RS API, service orchestration with BPEL 2.0 and security for web services.

In order to earn this certification you must have at least three years of experience developing enterprise applications using the Java platform. You must also have a valid Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) credential in either Java SE 8 Programmer or Java EE 6 Web Component Developer before attempting the exams.

It typically takes four to six months of dedicated study to prepare for both exams. There are several resources available online to help you prepare including practice tests, tutorials and study guides.

The cost of the two exams combined is approximately $1,000 USD.

11. Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)

Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) is a certification program designed to recognize IT professionals who have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to successfully design, deploy, and manage Red Hat solutions in an enterprise environment. The RHCA certification is one of the highest levels of certification offered by Red Hat and requires a comprehensive understanding of the technologies used in the Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.

The RHCA program consists of two parts: first, passing a series of exams that cover topics such as system administration, networking, security, virtualization, storage management, and more; second, completing a hands-on lab exam that tests your ability to configure and troubleshoot an enterprise-level Red Hat environment.

The process typically takes anywhere from 6 months to 1 year depending on how much time you are able to dedicate to studying for the exams. It is recommended that you have at least 3 years of experience working with Red Hat solutions before attempting the RHCA certification.

In order to get started with the RHCA program you will need to purchase a subscription from Red Hat which includes access to their online learning portal. This subscription also includes access to practice exams and other resources which can help you prepare for the actual exams. The cost for this subscription varies depending on which version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux you are using but typically ranges from $200-$500 per year.

Do You Really Need a Principal Software Engineer Certificate?

When it comes to the question of whether or not a Principal Software Engineer Certificate is necessary, the answer depends on the individual’s goals and ambitions. For those who are looking to gain more knowledge and experience in software engineering, such a certificate may be beneficial. This type of certification has become increasingly popular in recent years as employers have begun to recognize the value of having highly-skilled engineers on their teams.

The main benefit of having a Principal Software Engineer Certificate is that it demonstrates an individual’s commitment to software engineering. Having this type of certification shows potential employers that the engineer has taken the time and effort to learn about various aspects of software engineering, including design, development, testing, and maintenance. Additionally, this type of certification can also help engineers stand out from other job applicants by showing that they are well-versed in specific areas related to software engineering.

However, just because someone has obtained a Principal Software Engineer Certificate does not necessarily mean they are qualified for any particular job. It is important for individuals to bear in mind that having such a certificate does not guarantee employment; rather, it serves as evidence that an individual has gained valuable knowledge and experience in software engineering which could be beneficial when applying for jobs. Furthermore, even if someone does possess such a certificate, they still need to demonstrate their technical skillset during an interview or through their portfolio in order to land a job.

In conclusion, while having a Principal Software Engineer Certificate can certainly be beneficial in certain situations, it is ultimately up to each individual whether or not they decide they need one. Those who are serious about pursuing a career in software engineering should consider obtaining such certification as evidence of their knowledge and commitment; however, it should not be relied upon as the sole factor when deciding whether or not someone is suitable for a particular job role.

Related: Principal Software Engineer Resume Examples

FAQs About Principal Software Engineer Certifications

Q1. What is a Principal Software Engineer Certification?

A1. A Principal Software Engineer Certification is a professional certification that validates the knowledge and experience of a software engineer working in a leadership role. It demonstrates an individual’s ability to lead software engineering projects, develop efficient solutions, and apply best practices for software design and development.

Q2. What are the requirements for getting certified as a Principal Software Engineer?

A2. Generally, you must have at least five years of experience in software engineering and possess strong technical expertise in areas such as programming languages, databases, operating systems, web technologies, software architecture, and project management. Additionally, many certifying organizations require applicants to pass an examination covering topics related to software engineering principles and practices.

Q3. How long does it take to become certified as a Principal Software Engineer?

A3. The amount of time it takes to become certified depends on the specific requirements laid out by the certifying organization as well as your existing knowledge and experience level in the field of software engineering. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from six months to one year or more depending on these factors.

Q4. What are some additional benefits of becoming certified as a Principal Software Engineer?

A4. Becoming certified as a Principal Software Engineer can provide several benefits including increased job opportunities, higher salary potentials due to greater credibility with employers, improved problem-solving skills due to enhanced technical knowledge and understanding of best practices for software development, recognition among peers for excellence in the field of software engineering, and greater career satisfaction overall due to having achieved mastery in the field.

Q5. What types of jobs are available for those who possess a Principal Software Engineering Certification?

A5: Individuals who hold a Principal Software Engineering Certification typically find employment opportunities in roles such as Senior Developer/Architect/Engineer; Lead Programmer Analyst; Chief Technology Officer; Director/Manager of Application Development; Chief Information Officer; IT Consultant; Project Manager; or System Administrator/Network Architect.