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What Is a Webmaster? And Why Be Certified?
You're pretty good with HTML and even better with an authoring tool such as Dreamweaver, FrontPage, or Contribute. You've even put up a website or two. Doesn't that make you a Webmaster? Technically, it does; but is what you've done clear evidence of competence in the broad array of skills and topics that mark a professional webmaster?
Certification is one way to unequivocally speak for what you know and how you put that knowledge to good use. Certification establishes that you've completed a defined curriculum and that you've passed some level of examination. This says that you possess a certain command of a number of topics that are critical to website development and maintenance.
Now let's face it; if all you are going to do is put up a small personal website to share family photos or news, or promote your passion within your personal network, certification isn't, and shouldn't be, in your future. But if you are a computing or internet professional, or want to be, there are several reasons to seriously consider becoming a certified webmaster. We'll get to these reasons by first looking at what's involved in getting certified and where do you go about it.
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One prominent certifying organization is Certification Partners, who offer the Certified Internet Web (CIW) Professional program. They state that their program "is the world's fastest growing vendor-neutral internet certification for the knowledge economy". The CIW represents a technology basis that is adopted by government agencies, academia, and businesses. A CIW certification means that your skills and accomplishments are instantly recognized across a broad segment of the internet economy.
Another organization is the World Organization of Webmasters, WOW. This is an open membership community that exists by and for web professionals, present and aspiring. They aim to foster this community throught membership, volunteerism, and networking. They, too, offer education and examination as the means to certification.
Academic institutions, such as Florida State University, also offer webmaster certification programs consisting of a defined curriculum, examination, and board review. Several community colleges across the country also offer certification programs, as do a broad number of online companies that are far too numerous to list here.
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The organizations and programs that we've mentioned here all offer the necessary education choices and some form of testing to ensure an established level of knowledge, exposure, and competence. These organizations offer an expected variety of educational options with traditional classroom training at local schools or independent sites, online courses, and self-paced instruction. The instruction covers the expected areas: website design techniques, programming languages and authoring tools, network and server basics and administration.
WOW provides three progressive certification levels: Apprentice is the first level; Associate is the second level. These two levels have the same examination; passing at 50 - 70% establishes Apprentice certification; passing at 70% or above establishes Associate level. Candidates can achieve the Certified Professional Webmaster certification by passing all four of the Associate level exams (Certified Web Designer Associate, Certified Associated Webmaster, Certified Web Developer Associate, Certified Web Administrator Associate), or by directly passing the single Certified Professional Webmaster exam.
The Florida State University program consists of five classes: XHTML 1.1; Cascading Style Sheets (CSS); Website Architecture; Dreamweaver; Intro to Photoshop. These classes constitute 84 total credit hours of instruction. The candidate must then propose and complete an individual project to develop and post an entire website. Upon project completion, a review board examines the website project to determine certification.
Each of these organizations recommends that their respective programs be completed within one year of starting the program. There are varying provisions for requesting extensions. No cost figures were directly available.
The few programs described here make it fairly obvious that there is an expected level of rigor, effort, commitment, and accomplishment to getting certified. This also means that the candidate needs to make a very serious evaluation of the specific reasons for certification, the anticipated benefit to be derived, and the time, effort, and monetary costs involved.