It’s no secret that earning an IT certification can lead to better job opportunities and career growth. The IT industry is in dire need of certified professionals, and the skill gap is only widening with every passing year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, IT experts earn, on average, over double the wage of other professions – $97,430 and $45,760, respectively. Entry-level salaries for IT professionals are around $57,693 as of September 2022. Likewise, those who are certified earn over 7% more than their non-certified counterparts ($111,334). Certified professionals also have higher job security and are more likely to earn a raise and/or promotion, among other such benefits.
However, many people are hesitant to pursue certifications because of the time and effort it might take to earn one. In this article, we will discuss different methods for obtaining an online IT certification. We will also highlight the steps needed to prepare for earning an online certification so you can be confident and successful when you take the exam!
Step 1: Know What Online IT Certificate You Want/Need
The IT industry is very diverse, covering a wide range of specializations. Before you begin preparing for any certification, you need to decide which one is right for you and your career goals. IT certifications can generally be divided into five broad categories:
- Cloud and Data Center: Cloud and data center certifications focus on the hardware, software, and processes used to store, process, and manage data.
- Networking and Wireless: Networking and wireless certifications focus on the hardware, software, protocols, and processes used to connect devices and enable communication.
- Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity certifications focus on the hardware, software, protocols, and processes used to protect data and devices from unauthorized access or theft.
- Software Development: Software development certifications focus on the process of creating software applications.
- Web and Mobile Development: Web and mobile development certifications focus on the process of creating websites and apps for use on the internet and mobile devices.
While there are many specializations within each category, these are the five main IT certification types. If you don’t know where you stand or are unsure of which direction to go, consider taking MyComputerCareer’s free career evaluation. With this evaluation, we can discern your level of comfort and expertise with computers and networking. Based on the results, we will then promptly suggest a study plan that will help you achieve your desired career goals.
If you’re just starting in Information Technology, these are some of the best entry-level IT certificates currently on the market:
- CompTIA A+: This certification covers the basics of hardware, software, and networking.
- CompTIA Network+: This certification covers the basics of networking concepts and technologies.
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): This certification covers the basics of routing, switching, and wireless networking.
- Microsoft Certified Fundamentals: These certifications cover the basics of Microsoft Windows and Office products.
Once you know which certification is right for you, you can begin preparing for it.
Step 2: Decide On A Study Plan
Once you know which certification you want, it’s time to develop a study plan. The first step is deciding how you want to prepare for the exam. There are two main ways to prepare: self-study or taking an online training course.
- Self-Study: Self-study involves using textbooks, workbooks, and other study materials to prepare for the exam. This option is best for those already comfortable with the IT concepts covered in the certification they are pursuing. It’s also a good option for those with a busy schedule and need the flexibility to study at their own pace. The drawbacks of this method are that it can be difficult to stay motivated and on track without the structure of a class, and you may not have someone to answer your questions when you get stuck.
- Online Training Course: Online training courses provide structured instruction from IT experts. These courses typically include video lessons, quizzes, and practice exams. This option is best for those who need more guidance and direction when preparing for their certification exam. MyComputerCareer is trade school accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) that provides IT certification preparedness for certificates from leading providers such as Linux, Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, and the EC-Council.
Once you’ve decided on a study plan, it’s time to gather the materials you’ll need to prepare.
- For self-study: Textbooks, workbooks, and other study materials can be purchased online or at your local bookstore. Be sure to get materials that are specific to the exam you’re taking.
- If you’re taking an online training course: The course provider will give you access to the materials you’ll need.
As part of your study plan, you also need to allocate enough time to prepare for the exam. Depending on your current knowledge and comfort level, you may need to study for several months. If you already have a job, a family, or other such responsibilities, you’ll need to make time for study in your already busy schedule.
Step 3: Talk With Other IT Professionals
If you have friends or family that work in IT, talk to them about their experience with certifications. They may have suggestions regarding which certifications are most in-demand or tips for how to study effectively. IT professionals can also be a great resource for finding study materials and taking practice exams.
If you’re taking an online training course, you’ll have access to IT experts who can answer your questions and help you prepare for the exam. MyComputerCareer’s IT career advisors are available to help you choose the right certification and study plan for your goals. The trade school also provides ongoing Career Services, which, among other things, help you connect with IT experts from various sectors within the industry.
Step 4: Take Regular Practice Tests
Once you’ve gathered your study materials and developed a study plan, it’s time to start preparing for the exam. A key part of your preparation should be taking regular practice tests. These will help you gauge progress and identify any areas where you need more review.
Practice tests are available for most IT certification exams. You can find them online or in some of the study materials you’ve gathered. Be sure to use practice tests that are specific to the exam you’re taking. If you’re self-studying, you need to make sure that the version of the exam you’re preparing for is the most accurate and up-to-date.
Taking regular practice tests is a great way to prepare for your IT certification exam, but it’s not the only way. In addition to practice tests, you should also make use of other study aids such as flashcards, video lessons, and cheat sheets. These can all be found online or in IT certification study guides.
When you’re studying for your IT certification exam, it’s important to have a plan. Decide how you’re going to prepare, and then gather the materials you need. Make time to study in your schedule, and take regular practice tests to gauge your progress. IT professionals can be a great resource for finding study materials and taking practice exams.
MyComputerCareer’s IT career advisors are available to help you choose the right certification and study plan for your goals. The trade school also provides ongoing Career Services, which can help you come in contact with IT experts from various sectors within the industry. If you’re looking to start a new career in IT, MyComputerCareer can help you get started. If you’re looking for more information, feel free to contact us directly.