I’ve recently been through, and unfortunately failed, the BCS CITP assessment process. For those that don’t know the BCS is the Chartered Institute for IT and the Chartered IT Professional status is equivalent to the chartered status in accounting, but for IT. There are a number of benefits that CITP status gives you, but mostly it is the recognition that comes with the title.
Whilst I was on this journey I couldn’t find a great deal about it online (not really great given they are trying to expand knowledge about it in the IT profession) which made things considerably difficult for me – I am the sort of person who needs a lot of information about a subject to really tackle it; this is, in some ways I guess, contradictory to the attributes of a Chartered IT Professional I guess but it’s just in my nature. I wanted to blog about my experience for others to understand it better but also to remind myself when I try again.
The certification process starts with your application – this costs £160 and covers the process and your first year of subscription, following which it is £163 per year. To apply for CITP status you should ideally already be a member of the BCS but this isn’t necessarily a problem as if you pass you will automatically become a member. You should have a minimum of 5 years IT experience (that is, in a job) but ideally 8-10 years and in the last 3 years you should have been working at SFIA level 5:
These roles will have carried significant responsibility, full accountability and presented a challenging range of complex work activities. You also need to be able to demonstrate personal influence and well developed business skills.
This last part is absolutely key and will be thoroughly examined in the last stage of the process, I would therefore suggest that you fully and thoroughly understand the requirements of SFIA level 5 and be sure that:
- You meet all of the requirements before applying.
- You are able to demonstrate and evidence this.
When applying for CITP status you will need to provide an up-to-date CV, a personal statement and also supply details of a referee who is able to confirm that you work to SFIA level 5; this would ideally be someone who works closely enough with you that they can confirm that you work to this level. If at this stage you aren’t sure whether or not you should apply you can actually sit a (very) basic assessment that will tell you if you aren’t ready (not that you are ready – there is a difference!).
The next stage is to sit a Breadth of Knowledge (BoK) test – this is a test that you sit at a physical testing centre (Pearson Vue) that checks the breadth of your IT knowledge, as you would expect. It is a multiple choice test of 75 questions, made up of 15 questions on each of the following sections:
- Strategy and Architecture
- Business change
- Solution development and implementation
- Service management
- Management support and professional issues
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this test is multiple choice: it is very challenging! You must achieve at least 50 out of 75 AND 10 out of 15 in every section. The way that I revised for this test was to use the CITP BoK syllabus and the BoK reading list to cover the areas in which I was weakest – how did I know my weak areas? I sat the BoK mock test a number of times spread over a period (so that I couldn’t just remember the correct answers) and made a spreadsheet to record my exact scores each time: this showed me a trend of the different sections where I was weakest and my general overall score. My final result in the real thing was 84% so I’d say this was a successful method!
Interview and Presentation
The final part of the assessment is to give a presentation on a chosen subject to two BCS assessors and then sit an interview with those assessors. The presentation lasts for 10 mins and you should really try to stick to this time; it should demonstrate work that you have been responsible for during the last 6 months and I would strongly recommend that you match it with examples that meet the SFIA level 5 criteria for your chosen subject. The interview will then pick up on some of what you have discussed in your presentation and pick up on what you haven’t discussed, it will last for approximately 45 mins. The purpose is essentially to confirm your responsibility, that you meet SFIA level 5, and confirm the depth of knowledge of your chosen subject (see Breadth of Knowledge).
At this point I would strongly suggest that you again review, in detail, the SFIA level 5 criteria for your chosen subject but this time you should use the SFIA matrix and make sure you have chosen a subject that you can discuss confidently and provide strong evidence of working to SFIA level 5 – if, like me, you don’t have a good memory make a list of the criteria, print it out or keep it visible so that you are able to make references to this during your presentation. Failing to discuss any part of this could mean that you will fail this assessment – I personally fell foul of this, though that’s not necessarily the only reason I failed (if you are interested in seeing the format of the feedback please Contact me).
One further point I would just like to make is that you have potentially up to a year between making an application and completing your final assessment (6 months for BoK test and 6 further months for interview/presentation); for me it was about 9 months. During this time the assessors will have access to your old CV – I think it is probably worth sending them an updated version at the time of your final assessment to ensure they have the most up-to-date and relevant details; I didn’t do this and certainly feel it worked against me as some of the areas I failed on would have been immediately corrected.
Pass or fail?
It takes 2 – 3 weeks to find out the results of your assessment. If, like me, you don’t pass the whole assessment (no matter at which stage) then you will have to wait 6 months before you can re-apply. I would also recommend that you request any notes and the recording of your assessment (no matter your result) so that you can review your effort. Finally, certification doesn’t stop at the last assessment as you will need to be revalidated once every 5 years – I’ll be sure to blog about this in 5 and a half years!
Overall I quite enjoyed the process even though I wasn’t successful. It helped to validate my work where I don’t have peers to review and it helped to refine those areas that can be improved upon; I really value having been through this process and look forward to doing it again. I think Chartered IT Professional status is absolutely essential for promoting high-quality professionalism in the IT industry in the UK and around the world and would absolutely encourage anyone within the industry to apply when they are ready! If you are reading this because you are thinking of applying then I wish you good luck and if there’s anything I can help with please do comment below.