WCET is for System Designers

WCET is for System Designers

By CWNP On 12/08/2008 - 28 Comments

CWNP has been asked by various people over the last couple of months how CWNP certifications compare to the IEEE's new WCET certification.  Having taken a good look at WCET when it emerged, I already knew that it was a completely different certification than those offered by CWNP.  Nevertheless, inquiring people means that someone has to clarify.  So here goes...

CWNP creates certifications around Job Task Analyses (JTAs).  We identify career positions within a range of organizations, qualify what tasks must be performed within those positions, and then build exam objectives around those tasks.  Thus far, CWNP's certifications focus on 4 main groups of professionals:

1. CWTS - Technical Sales, Help Desk, and Support Technicians (official announcement forthcoming)

2. CWNA - Enterprise WLAN Administrators

3. CWSP - Enterprise Wireless Security Professionals

4. CWNE - Enterprise Wireless Design, Implementation, and Troubleshooting

There is certainly more to come, but I won't spill the beans just yet.  Now I would like to compare WCET to CWNP's certifications a bit.

Let's start by taking a look at a sample of tested areas.  Instead of trying to compare WCET with any one of CWNP's certifications, I think it best to compare WCET to a subset of CWNP's certifications (where the confusion lies).  I'll start by listing the exam objectives for WCET, then those for CWNP certifications.

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WCET Areas of Expertise:

http://cms.comsoc.org/eprise/main/SiteGen/WCET_Public/Content/Home/preparation/exam_specs.html

CWNP Exam Objectives for CWNA: (recently updated)

http://www.cwnp.com/exams/pw0104_objectives.pdf

CWNP Exam Objectives for CWNE: (being updated shortly)

http://www.cwnp.com/exams/pw0300_objectives_2007.pdf

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Now let's compare:

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When ComSoc says, 'RF Engineering, Propagation, and Antennas', they mean, 'Bring Your RPN Calculator.'

http://cms.comsoc.org/eprise/main/SiteGen/WCET_Public/Content/UnplacedPages/area1.html

For example, exam objective 01.05 says, 'Calculate the polarization mismatch loss for various antenna systems (examples might include fixed microwave systems, cellular and mobile radio systems, and satellite systems).  I wrote much of the CWNE exam, and I have no idea how to do this.  I sure hope someone does, because I know that a polarization mismatch causes loss of received signal strength between transceivers.  It’s very important for my cell phone to have good coverage, but running the numbers for such isn’t in my wheelhouse.

When ComSoc says, 'Wireless Access Technologies', they mean, 'Bring Your RPN Calculator, and Don't Forget Your Cellular Textbook.'

http://cms.comsoc.org/eprise/main/SiteGen/WCET_Public/Content/UnplacedPages/area2.html

For example, exam objective 02.06 says, 'Perform co-location interference analysis for systems (examples might include TDMA, CDMA, WCDMA, WLAN, 802.15, and GSM).'  CWNP is a company focused solely on Wi-Fi (802.11) technology, so this helps make it obvious that CWNP certifications and the WCET certification are on two different levels: WCET for System Designers (of various types), and CWNP for Wi-Fi System Operators.

When ComSoc says, 'Fundamental Knowledge', they mean, 'I hope you went to MIT, or at least Cal Poly.'

http://cms.comsoc.org/eprise/main/SiteGen/WCET_Public/Content/UnplacedPages/area7.html

Having gone through the U.S. Army’s best electronic and RF schools, even the tricky stuff here didn’t throw me for a loop, but exam objective 00.00.21 would still require that I dig into those cellular textbooks pretty hard: '00.00.21 wireless multiple-access schemes (examples might include FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, and variants).'  At the very least, it looks to me like the IEEE wants you to be a EE or EET graduate before attempting this exam, which sounds reasonable given its extensive requirements.  I think this cert is needed for its audience.

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When CWNP says, 'Radio Frequency (RF) Technologies', we mean, 'Define and explain basic RF concepts and behavior' and 'Understand your 10s and 3s and what each RF unit is used for.'

When CWNP says, '802.11 MAC Frames and Exchange Processes', we mean, 'Either read a good book based on the 802.11 standard, read the 802.11 standard, or find a teacher who knows the 802.11 standard.'  We’ve really grown to love that standard.

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Are all of these certifications difficult?  Sure, but they're all targeted at completely different audiences.  WCET targets at system designers - mostly those who create hardware and software within the Wi-Fi and cellular markets – with a single, broad exam.  CWNP produces certification exams individually targeted at end-users, administrators, installers, troubleshooters, and network designers.  These are two completely different fields of study, each warranting their own certification(s), that are delivered in two different ways.

For those still unclear on the differentiation between these two certification programs, please visit ComSoc's 'sample questions' page to see the kind of questions you would receive on the WCET certification exam:

http://cms.comsoc.org/eprise/main/SiteGen/WCET_Public/Content/Home/preparation/sample_ques.html

For a quick summary, I’d like to answer the question, 'How do WCET and CWNP certification exams compare?'  The answer: They don’t.  While there is overlap in terminology, each certification program is created for vastly different audiences, and each program operates on a different plane.

CWNP is pleased that the IEEE has chosen to launch the WCET certification because the industry’s most esteemed organization has validated the need for certification in these markets.  The IEEE is the ultimate group of super-genius engineers, and from their ranks are born the best manufacturers in the world.  Because of the IEEE, we have the 802.11 standard and the Wi-Fi market.  We’re beholden.

I'd love to hear more from our audience.  Questions?  Comments?


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