I am an MBCS and through that, a Chartered IT Practitioner and a Chartered Engineer.
Ignoring the BCS for a minute, does Computing deserve to be treated as a serious profession? Should there be an organisation that sets the standards of professionalism and fulfils the function of a learned society? Does society need a measure of whether people claiming to ‘know a bit about computers’ actually do, before we let them write the software for a fly-by-wire aircraft or missile targeting system? If the answer is yes then I think we have to accept that someone will have to pay for it and that will probably be us. I wanted to become chartered to put some distance between me and some of the cowboys I met when I was contracting. It can’t hurt on the CV.
What value have I got out of it? The above - I feel I’ve contributed to the professionalisation of our sometimes rather shoddy industry. It once earned me some respect from a fellow CEng who earlier in the day had treated me as having the status of a photocopier ‘engineer’. I can sign the sheet at BCS meetings in the ‘Member’ rather than the ‘Guest’ column.
Does the BCS meet my expectations? They’re trying - but while it doesn’t have a sufficiently large percentage of people working in computing, it has no muscle to impose any standards.
It is making progress in the area of ISEB qualifications which ironically most people don’t don’t know have anything to do with the BCS.
[ Ooh look, they’ve rebranded them as BCS http://certifications.bcs.org/ ]
I did this BA Practice http://certifications.bcs.org/category/15692
It was pretty intense. Many young, suited London consultancy types.
I was dreading the exam. It was the first I’d taken since I graduated but it was OK, taken on the last day of the course which concentrates the mind. It wasn’t hugely relevant to my job, aimed more at board level than software but you can hardly blame them for us choosing the wrong course.
But: I was once a member of the Independent Computer Contractor specialist group (ICC) The EU sent a consultation on contract working to the UK government who forwarded it to a number of official industry organisations. The BCS passed it to the ICC. The Chair (Mike) and a couple of guys met up in a pub and wrote a response. No-one else did. Mike and two blokes in a pub wrote what became the official UK proposal to the EU, because they were in the BCS. That is democracy in action.