In information technology as in other fields such as teaching, accounting, and acupuncture, certification is a formal process of making certain that an individual is qualified in terms of particular knowledge or skills. Certification programs are often fostered or supervised by some certifying agency, such as a professional association. Some major computer software and hardware vendors provide a certification program for installers of their product, such as Microsoft's Certified Systems Engineer ( MCSE ) for its Windows operating systems, IBM's Certified Lotus Specialist (CLS), and Cisco's Certified Internetwork Professional (CCIP). The A+ certification program is a certification that attests to general computer installation and customization knowledge and capabilities.
Within the IT world, certification is not always absolutely required and there remains some discussion comparing the relative merits of experience and certification. Nevertheless -- all other things being equal -- certification may give the job (or raise) seeker a critical edge over the competition.