A credential-holding accounting software reseller was asked if the AICPA's technology credential--the Certified Information Technology Professional--make a difference to clients?

"I would like to be able to say 'yes,' but the honest answer is 'no,'" he responded. "Most people, including other CPAs, don't know what it really is."

So it goes with the CITP, which was originally slated for extinction, but which was given a stay of execution, provided it gets 1,700 members enrolled by July 31, 2008. Right now, there are 690 CITP holders.

I have known a lot of the people who hold and promote the credential, many of them for years. But I can't shake the belief that this VAR is right, that holding the credential really doesn't make much difference in the market. I have had a hard time accepting the idea that a do-it-yourself effort by CITPs can establish their credential.

Ultimately, the success of the CITP is whether it gives the holder an edge in getting business over the technology-oriented CPA who does not. Successful credentials need to rest on a describable body of knowledge. So far, nobody has numbers, but the overwhelming majority of CITPers have not taken a test--they have been designated because of their experience. I think testing is generally over-rated in this country, but in professions, tests provide credibility.

This is not to say that the CITP can't be established. But I think nobody is going to make the effort that's really necessary to do it. The current campaign to get more CITPers is aimed at CPAs. What is needed is marketing that creates demand for the CITP's services. Why should a business hire a CITP? The accountant shouldn't have to explain that on a case-by-case basis. The credential must obtain brand recognition as the CPA credential has.

I hope I'm wrong. But I don't think it will.

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