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What's the Biggest Cert Program by Population?

By Ed Tittel
December 12, 2011


I've often pondered this question, and I've usually answered by saying "Microsoft." Turns out I'm only half right: it's actually the Microsoft Office Specialist program, aka MOS, and while the subject matter is indisputably Microsoft's, the exams and content and the related certification program all belong to Certiport.

According to this fascinating synopsis of a lengthy interview by Emmet Dulaney with Certiport CEO Ray Kelly, the MOS program will certify over 1.2 million people world-wide in 2011. They must have a certified population greater than 6 million (Microsoft's approximate total population as of mid-2011) because Kelly calls the program "the largest IT certification in the world." Kelly works so closely with Microsoft, he's in a unique position to know such things. In servicing such a huge candidate population, and in helping deliver exams for the Adobe Certified Associate, CompTIA Strata, and IC³ credentials, Certiport also routine delivers over 2 million certification tests every year, which puts them in a league with Prometric and VUE.

All kinds of great news and info in this interview.

Certiport focuses squarely on the entry-level portion of the cert market, which might incline some readers to dismiss the company, or take its efforts lightly. I invite those who are so inclined to consider that Certiport is tackling the bottom of a huge pyramid (as the entire certification business is often described) and that as such, they are going after what is inarguably the biggest part of a huge and growing marketplace. That explains their focus on MOS, the Microsoft Technology Associate program (MTA), CompTIA Strata, and the IC³ program, all of which are designed to lead people into the initial stages of office productivity (MOS), IT fundamentals (MTA and CompTIA Strata), and basic computing (IC³). It also explains why the company is working with HP on its new entry-level program as well, the HP Accredited Technical Associate (ATA).

Fascinating stuff. Definitely worth a read!