Six Hot IBM Certifications for 2020

A new certification from IBM could give your IT career a serious boost.

People who work in the IT industry often comment on the volatility of their chosen trade, but there are some notable mainstays that have endured years of hi-tech sector booms and busts. One such mainstay is International Business Machines — better known to most as IBM or Big Blue for short.


Nearly a century old, IBM has steadily maintained a strong presence through decades of growth, turmoil, and recovery in the IT industry. IBM may not be the sexiest company in Big Tech, and it has taken a PR hit from several well-publicized rounds of layoffs over the last decade.


On the other hand, with more than 350,000 employees, IBM is still one of the largest employers in the world. The company enjoys strong brand recognition, especially in financial markets: IBM is one of just 30 companies used in the valuation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Furthermore, IBM is not shy about growing its business via large strategic acquisitions, plunking down $34 billion to purchase Red Hat in 2019.


On top of all that cachet, IBM also offers a first-class training and certification program that spans its massive portfolio of products and services. What follows is our selection of the top six IBM certifications that relevant candidates should consider adding to their r�sum�s in 2020.


IBM Certified Database Administrator - Db2 Database

Skill Level: Intermediate
Number of Exams: 2


Formerly known as DB2 for Linux UNIX and Windows (DB2 LUW for short), IBM has rebranded the most recent release (version 11.5) of its venerable relational database server: it is now IBM Db2 Database. The change to the lower-case 'b' is a pretty hip move for IBM, all things considered.


Marketing humor aside, candidates should look for the more verbose IBM Certified Database Administrator - DB2 11.1 for Linux UNIX and Windows credential on the IBM certification site. This is the most current DB2 certification, aimed at intermediate-level DBAs who want to become proficient at the daily admin tasks associated with DB2 instances and databases.


This certification requires passing two exams and comes with its own unique digital badge upon completion. Better yet, it is a great lead-in to the second and third credentials in our list.


IBM Certified Data Engineer - Big Data IBM Certified Data Architect - Big Data

Skill Level: Expert
Number of Exams: 1 (for each certification)


IBM identifies two major roles in its Big Data solutions: Data Architect and Data Engineer. The Data Architect is the person who works with clients and a Big Data solutions team to design the best implementation based on a client's requirements. The Data Engineer takes this design and implements the solution using the optimal mix of hardware and software based on the client's budget and capabilities.


These are both expert-level credentials for IT professionals with a working knowledge of Big Data solutions. Each certification requires passing a single exam, but don't take that as a sign of easy-to-moderate difficulty — they are both highly challenging exams.


IBM Certified Application Developer - Cloud Solutions v3

Skill Level: Intermediate
Number of Exams: 1


A new certification from IBM could give your IT career a serious boost.

The first of two software developer credentials on our list, the IBM CAD - Cloud Solutions v3 certification was created for developers who are proficient at creating applications on the IBM Cloud platform.


Many of the recommended skills for this credential are consistent with universal cloud programming basics: authentication, scaling, data security, and so on. IBM adds a few Big Blue-specific technologies to the recommendation sheet, including an understanding of Watson service capabilities and knowledge of emerging tech like IoT, machine learning, and Blockchain.


Speaking of Watson — again, we have a great segue into the next certification on our list.


IBM Certified Application Developer - Watson v3

Skill Level: Intermediate
Number of Exams: 1


The first time that most people became aware of Watson, an artificial intelligence initiative headed by IBM, was back in 2011 when Watson's ability to hear, interpret, and answer questions asked in natural language powered it to victory over renowned Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter in a match for a $1 million prize.


Watson (named after IBM founder Thomas John Watson Sr.) has come a long way since its televised debut, and is now an established platform that offers AI-powered solutions for multiple business departments across a host of different industries.


The IBM Certified Application Developer - Watson v3 certification is for intermediate-level software developers looking to specialize in Watson AI-powered applications and services. The knowledge set includes programming apps for the cloud, as well as a familiarity with machine learning fundamentals.


IBM Certified Solution Advisor - Blockchain Platform v1

Skill Level: Intermediate/Expert
Number of Exams: 1


A new certification from IBM could give your IT career a serious boost.

Many techies who see the word "blockchain" associate it solely with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. While blockchains do play a key role in cryptocurrency, the technology is also being used for other high-security applications such as transaction recording and asset tracking on private or shared networks.


The IBM Blockchain Platform (formerly known as IBM High Security Business Network or HSBN) expands blockchain beyond cryptocurrencies into areas such as supply chain and healthcare information management.


The IBM Certified Solution Advisor credential is for IT professionals who consult with customers and help them select the best IBM products and services for their requirements. The IBM Blockchain Platform version of this certification doesn't necessarily require candidates to have expert knowledge of every working bit and byte of blockchain.


Rather, candidates need to be skilled at matching IBM's blockchain solutions to each client's unique use cases. As IBM states in its description of this certification, "The Solution Advisor can come from a sales professional, architect, consultant, or developer background."


"IBM for 2020, Alex"


Often overlooked in the Big Tech discussion, IBM is still an important player (and employer) in the IT industry. The certifications discussed in this article all have a footprint in current relevant technologies — Big Data, cloud applications, AI, and blockchain — and are representative of skills and knowledge receiving high value in today's IT workplace.


For more information about these and other IBM training and certification options, visit the IBM Professional Certification Program homepage.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author
Aaron Axline is a freelance technology writer based in Canada.

Aaron Axline is a technology journalist and copywriter based in Edmonton, Canada. He can be found on LinkedIn, and anywhere fine coffee is served.