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How to Choose the Right I.T. Certification Program

How to Choose the Right IT Certification Program

Information technology (IT) is a highly dynamic and rewarding industry. However, as the industry is evolving, so do the required skills needed for IT professionals to remain relevant in their field of expertise. People need to adopt a mentality of continued learning and education to keep themselves up-to-date and competitive in today’s day and age. As the fastest growing industry on the market, IT offers some of the best chances of success. Over the past several years, the information technology industry has seen an increase of nearly $600 billion. In 2014, investment in the industry was at around $2.08 trillion, and in 2019, it reached over $2.64 trillion.

Any IT certification holder can leverage their skills and knowledge to advance their career, especially those looking to make it in the industry as a certified associate or aiming towards a promotion as an information systems auditor or certified information systems security professional. There are multiple career paths to choose from, and it can become a bit complicated to know which one will be the best fit.

However, certified professionals stand a far better chance of being hired or promoted than self-taught experts. After all, an IT certification validates one’s competencies and increases their credibility in the employer’s eyes. To that end, we’ve put together a basic guideline on how to choose the right IT certification program to fit your needs.

Why You Should Consider a Certification in Information Technology

According to CompTIA, around 91% of employers say that IT certifications play a critical role in their hiring decision as they are a “reliable predictor of a successful employee.” It’s for this reason that as many as 72% of employers will require an IT certification for certain job openings, 67% will use them to measure a candidate’s work ethic and determination, while 60% use them to confirm a candidate’s expertise.

Most employers also agree that certified professionals make ideal job candidates. In fact, around 95% of them say that certificates provide a baseline of set knowledge for certain positions, 92% say that they provide credibility, and 91% say that certificates save time and resources when screening candidates. In addition, around 92% of employers also mentioned that certified employees will receive higher starting salaries and tend to learn faster while on the job.

However, getting hired is only the first step in an IT career. Luckily, certifications will provide you with additional benefits beyond this first step. Among these, we can include:

  • Ongoing Relevancy – A continuing education is important in every industry, but it’s even more so in IT. As previously mentioned, certifications will ensure that you remain relevant in the eyes of your employer.
  • More Promotion Opportunities – Whether you are looking for a new position in the company, moving up through promotions, or are looking to change companies altogether, IT certifications will help you achieve these goals. As opposed to those who don’t have it, your knowledge can be immediately applicable in your new position, giving you a competitive edge.
  • Investing in Yourself – By enrolling yourself in a certification program, you will not only be proving to employers that you are committed to your career, but it also shows that you are a lifelong learner that never stops improving. New knowledge, particularly in this field, is never a waste of money, as you will never know when it will come in handy.

Choosing the Right Certification for You

Now that you have a better understanding of the value of IT certifications, you will be in a better position to pick a path that will best suit your needs. Though it may seem simple at first, it’s not advisable to rush this decision. There are several questions you need to ask yourself before you make your choice.

What Do You Wish to Accomplish?

Do you want to be a DevOps engineer, cloud architect, certified solutions architect, security engineer, or a certified information systems auditor? Or maybe you’re eyeing a position as a certified information security manager (CISM) or a certified associate in project management (CAPM).

Professionals looking to advance their careers have many reasons to become IT certified. Some will do it simply for the money – since the IT industry is known to pay above average. Others do it for the job security the industry has to offer, given the huge shortage of qualified employees. There are, of course, those who are already in the field and are looking to advance or even change their career path, such as from a network professional to a system security specialist. Whatever your case may be, to choose the right IT certification program you will need to make sure you don’t start evaluating your options before you know precisely what you want to achieve.

If, for instance, your goal is to enter the industry, you should consider entry-level certificates, such as the basic Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification, CompTIA A+, or the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. If, on the other hand, you are interested in becoming a subject matter expert, you should become certified in new or recently-updated technology. This path, however, should be reserved for those that have some experience in the field.

In terms of career progression, it’s always a good idea to refresh your current tech skills in cloud computing, networking, or security, etc. Additional certifications in your field will often be required if you wish to apply for more advanced and higher-paying jobs. Just make sure that your choice will align with what you want to achieve. It never hurts to ask others in those positions about what skills are required for their roles.

What Are Your Interests?

It is equally important, and probably even more so, to make sure that you’re interested in what you choose to pursue. As good as these certifications are in terms of your employment opportunities, you still want something where you will pay attention and actually learn something. As Albert Einstein famously said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% percent hard work…” In other words, if you want to be great at something, you will need to put in the hours. But if you don’t like what you’re doing, those long hours will become a chore, and you won’t be able to keep it up for long.

It’s best to pick a certification that will keep you invested over the long-term. If you’re just getting started, you want to pick something that will teach you the basics of the industry. One such example is CompTIA IT Fundamentals, which will help you learn the basics of hardware components and how they work together. Among other vendor-neutral certifications providers, Cisco also offers a variety of entry-level options in the realms of Networking, Cloud Computing, or Information Security management.

Another useful piece of advice is to take as many certifications as you can in the area you are particularly passionate about. It also doesn’t hurt to branch out from time to time as having additional knowledge will provide many benefits down the line.

What Are In-Demand IT Certifications?

Depending on what you have identified as being your biggest interest in the field of IT, and regardless of your level of knowledge, there are several certifications that are currently in high demand. Among these, we can include the following:

  • Microsoft Certifications – A Microsoft certification will definitely open up plenty of career opportunities. With over 82% of today’s OS market being held by Microsoft, there’s no denying that you will become an asset for most employers with a Microsoft certification. As an entry-level professional, you should consider the Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification, as it provides you with fundamentals in OS, Networking, and Security. More advanced Microsoft certificates include the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) in Server Infrastructure, Private Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, or Application Lifecycle Management.
  • Linux Certifications – While it’s nowhere near Microsoft’s share of the OS market, Linux, as an open-source operating system, is powering all of the world’s supercomputers, 90% of all cloud infrastructure, and almost all the top 1 million servers around the world. It’s also used by many governmental agencies and large organizations. Linux certificates provide knowledge and expertise as Systems Administrator, Server Administrator, or Network Engineer, among others. Among these certificates, we can include the
    • Linux Essentials Professional Development Certificate
    • LPIC-1: Linux Administrator
    • LPIC-2: Linux Engineer
    • LPIC-3 300: Linux Enterprise Professional – Mixed Environment
    • LPIC-3 303: Linux Enterprise Professional – Security
    • LPIC-3 304: Linux Enterprise Professional – Virtualization & High Availability
  • Cisco Certifications – Cisco is yet another excellent provider of high paying IT certifications aimed at both Network Engineers professionals with experience and those looking to enter the industry. Two of the most in-demand Cisco certifications include the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP).
  • CompTIA Certifications – As an excellent vendor-neutral certifications provider, Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) offers a great certification program. Some of the most noteworthy CompTIA certifications include CompTIA A+, CompTIA Server +, CompTIA Network +, CompTIA Security +, and CySA+.
  • EC-Council Certifications – The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification provided by the EC-Council is aimed particularly at professionals, such as website administrators, security consultants, security auditors, and others in charge of data and/or network security.

MyComputerCareer is an adult technical school teaching IT courses at our seven campuses (Indiana, North Carolina, Texas, and Ohio), as well as online. Once you manage to complete our rigorous IT courses, you may earn up to thirteen valuable certifications in fields like Cyber Security, Computer Networks, Operating Systems, and more. Are you seeking career advancement, or are you a novice trying to enter the IT industry? For more information on how to become a certified information systems professional, the right certification course for you, training cost, certification preparation, certification exam, and exam costs, contact us today!

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