I became a BCS Chartered IT Professional 14 years ago. My effective salary has tripled, but with CITP I got other benefits that were equally important. But the CITP and professionalism wasn’t what I expected.

Florence reminds me of being a Chartered IT Professional
Florence reminds me of being a Chartered IT Professional. The city that has kept its dignity despite centuries of attempts to discredit it, it has inspired people, and behind the beauty its people keep learning and adapting. There’s more to their lives than salaries.

What is the BCS CITP?

Chartered IT Professional schemes also exist from other organisations in other countries, including the USA, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

There are alternative approaches to professional recognition, such as membership levels in associations such as the BCS, IEEE Computer Society or ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). Membership levels relate to years of service, achievement and publications.

People resent the title of Chartered IT Professional

Yes, I earn more. That is from a fairly low base, which could be the experience of many people considering the effort needed to become a Chartered IT Professional. I was also in a phase of redirecting my career after a major change. (The company I had co-founded had gone into administration and I needed to rebuild my career as s “normal” professional rather than an entrepreneur.)

I tried using CITP on my email address, along with membership of BCS, the IEEE Computer Society, and my two degrees. My first boss was impressed during the interview but it turned out that he thought I was superman on a low salary. That didn’t work out. The next boss was also impressed, but then turned against the idea of professionalism because it interfered with his approach to handling clients. And my colleagues resented it because it implied I was better than them, with their longer experience.

Since then, I use it when looking for business, I mention it when working to inspire the new generation, but I don’t advertise it in everyday communications. Perhaps that’s a British trait and it works differently in other countries.

People don’t understand what CITP means

A neighbour came around just before Christmas, asking for help with his laptop. “Chartered Accountants can do accounts, so why can’t you fix my laptop?” Well, I did, but it was in a bad state and I had to do a lot of research to puzzle it out.

At work, I’ve found people who think a CITP must be an expert at everything from DevOps and security through to data migration, user-experience design and SEO. Well, in this knowledge-rich industry, nobody can be a specialist at everything, although we can work out the basics, spot anomalies and find a genuine specialist to help.

This underlies a broader issue: there is little awareness of the nature of Chartered IT Professionals, both within the profession and in the broader public.  We are meant to be promoting the CITP to industry, but the national culture is against that.

Chartered IT Professional salary

I earn considerably more than when I completed the sequence to become a Chartered IT Professional. For me, money is not the primary driver in life. My satisfaction comes from making big changes to organisations – preferably the kind of change that people say is impossible. That’s my choice.

If I’d gone for a career for senior posts or built a new business, maybe it would be different, except those paths don’t require a CITP qualification.

My own path has kept me refreshed. I’m now in my 60’s and in theory my career should be stabilising or tailing down. It’s not: it goes from strength to strength, taking on new challenges that I could never have handled earlier.

Salary is not everything – my top 3 CITP benefits

Professional code. The management roles I take involve helping people in difficult situations. By adhering to concepts of professionalism it’s been possible to help the people to handle conflicts, rationalise what’s happening, and find new aspirations. Yes, I’ve had personal disappointments – that’s inevitable in this rapidly-changing industry – but I’ve taken pride in giving my very best service to the last moment.

Lifelong learning. When I encounter a new area, I dig and ask questions and try to understand as much as possible, even though I’ll never “use” the knowledge directly because there are experts in that field. It means I have an ever-improving ability to see the implications of change, I can help people find ways out of problems, and … it’s fun.

Mentoring. I try to lead by example, talking openly about professionalism and the importance of lifelong learning. I’ve repeatedly found people who watch what I do then strengthen their own tendency to professionalism. Naturally, I encourage them. They are the future hope for the IT industry.

Professionalism and spies

This website is loaded with flash-fiction (stories) of modern espionage. Most are about the intelligence support staff: collectors, researchers, analysts and liaison. These are office-based jobs, and far from the popular concept of “spying”. The 2-page stories that illustrate aspects of their professionalism, include Forced confession and The assassination and Presumed guilty. (A much more detailed account of professionalism underlies my unpublished novel, Hidden Beyond Detection.)

Could there ever be a Chartered Espionage Professional for intelligence support staff? Well, there is a hard constraint concerning secrecy – obviously CEP is not something that would appear on their letter-heads, and there could not be public lists of certified practitioners. But building comparable structures of competence and trustworthiness, is within the capability of the intelligence profession … if they want it.

For an example of good intelligence analysis and estimation practices, see How Spies Think, by Sir David Ormand, published by Penguin, 2020. (David Ormand is a former director of GCHQ and served 7 years on the Joint Intelligence Committee.)

And an unresolved question: Could there ever be professional standards for the intelligence agents, special agents, spy masters, undercover operatives, and such like? (These are people whose work has major ethical challenges.)

BCS Chartered IT Professional scheme – UK

Register of BCS Charted IT Professionals

EU Regulated Professions Database

AICPA Chartered IT Professional scheme – USA

Certified Professionals (CP) of the ACS in Australian Computer Society

CITPNZ in New Zealand, IT Professionals

Institute of Chartered IT Professionals, (SA) in South Africa

SFIA (The global skills and competency framework for a digital world) – the BCS CITP is aligned with SFIA

IEEE Computer Society and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) – join one or both of these associations and working towards senior member status is a different approach to recognition

Conclusion (review)

I’ve been a Chartered IT Professional for almost 14 years. It’s increased my salary, it’s encouraged me to keep learning, the professionalism has given me pride and helped me through bad times, and as a result I’m sure I’ve helped others in their career.

For me it was career changing, but it does not apply to everyone and the effort to be qualified can be considerable for some people; and the limited industry awareness of CITP hinders its value. Hence, 4 stars out of 5.