When it comes to IT certifications, a lot of people imagine the typical candidate to be someone in their late 20s or 30s looking for a career change. While there is a fair number of people that fit this category, it is not the only group looking to attain these valuable certifications.
There is also a younger demographic interested in becoming IT-certified, and it is made up of those who want a headstart in life. Rather than study for four years to get a bachelor’s degree, more and more high school graduates are deciding to complete IT certification right after high school graduation – allowing them to be an IT professional by the age of 20.
An IT certification is valuable for young and ambitious go-getters that are eager to start their careers. Because information technology has integrated into all walks of life, certified information technology professionals have opportunities to work in all industries. Regardless of your career path, young professionals benefit immensely by picking up essential IT skills as early as possible. To help the younger generation reach their goals sooner, MyComputerCareer is here to guide you on how to get IT-certified by the age of 20.
What Does It Mean to Get Certified?
When it comes to information technology, professional certifications are non-degree awards given to those that have been successful in achieving qualifications specified by a certifying authority. There are several certification training and certification paths to choose from. Depending on the certification, requirements can include proof of professional experience, passing a certification examination, or completing a course of study. The intention behind certification is to establish the person holding it technically qualified to perform certain tasks and hold positions in the field of information systems.
While there are a lot of certifications out there, not all of them carry the same weight. Avoid certifications that simply request members to pay a fee or attend a seminar. In most cases, these certificates are meaningless and a waste of time and money. When it comes to meaningful certifications, it is a lot more beneficial to get certifications that are recognized and valued by employers. These certifications show potential employers or clients that you are indeed a certified information systems professional and an expert, having passed certification exams from reputable organizations.
Know Your Options – Powerful Brands that Offer Professional IT Certifications
In order to ensure that your ambitions bear fruit, we will look at some of the most reputable and recognized brands that offer certifications. We are going to look at the brands, their certifications, and potential doors they can open in your future career.
Microsoft is recognized and respected all over the world. Many of us associate it with the Windows operating systems and the Microsoft Office software. However, few people are aware that Microsoft also has a sizable certification program that generates thousands of certified professionals, successful administrators, and technicians that can support Microsoft systems and apps. People who undergo continuing education through Microsoft certification establish themselves as competent, certified information systems professionals. Microsoft has created an entire program, known as the Microsoft Certification Program, and it includes the following credentials.
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
- Microsoft Solutions Developer (MCSD)
- Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)
While the Microsoft Certification Program is quite wide, a great starting point for many young people is the Microsoft Technology Associate certificates. It is the perfect entry point into the IT world and will help them get some practical experience about a particular subject. This certification will provide them with a strong foundation and confidence needed for advanced studies. It can also help them fill future entry-level IT positions in their careers. Some of the most popular and lucrative MTA certificates are:
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) – Operating System Fundamentals
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) – Networking Fundamentals
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) – Security Fundamentals
The Computing Technology Industry Association, or as it popularly referred to as CompTIA, is a world-leading tech association that issues certification in the IT industry. They are the leader in vendor-neutral IT certifications and are considered one of the top trade associations. CompTIA certifications can open the door to a wide array of career paths including:
- Field Service Technician
- Desktop Support Technician
- IT Support Technician
- Network and Systems Administration
- Security Specialist etc.
They offer numerous certifications, and all of them meet industry standards. These are some of the most popular CompTIA certifications for young individuals looking to build a solid IT career.
- CompTIA A+
The CompTIA A+ certificate is a great starting point for those looking to gain an in-depth understanding of PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. It is usually a requirement for tech positions at companies such as Dell, Lenovo, and Intel.
- CompTIA Server +
The CompTIA Server + will provide you with the expertise needed to construct, maintain, assist, and troubleshoot components related to server hardware and software. It will put you on a career path to holding positions dealing with storage, software, and system best practices.
- CompTIA Network+ +
The CompTIA Network+ certification is the best way to show potential employers that you have the understanding and skill needed to troubleshoot, design, configure, manage, and secure wired and wireless networks. It is usually a prerequisite to becoming a certified associate for companies such as Dell, HP, and Apple.
- CompTIA Security+
Cybersecurity is one of the most sought after professions in the IT industry. The need to protect information is paramount. With the CompTIA Security+ certification, you can showcase your experience in system network infrastructure, security, access control, cryptography, audits and assessments, and organizational security. Anyone interested in security and risk management can benefit greatly from this certificate.
- CompTIA Cyber Security Analyst certification (CySA) + Certification
Like the Security + certificate, the CompTIA CySA certificate is perfect for those interested in learning more about security. The exam will cover four main domains – threat management, vulnerability management, cyber incident response, security architecture, and toolsets. It will teach you how to protect against cybersecurity threats by looking at networks and devices from critical insight gained from behavioral analytics.
- CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) + Certification
The CompTIA CASP + is perfect for people that prefer the tech aspects of the IT field and would rather be a technician than a project manager. It covers information systems security and the technical knowledge and skills needed for IT security professionals to conceptualize, engineer, integrates, and implement secure solutions. It covers important ideas and concepts around information security management like risk management, enterprise security operations, and architecture, collaboration, and research, as well as the integration of an enterprise.
Cisco Systems is renowned for its specialization in networking and communication products and services. They are recognized for their routing and switching products all over the world. These products direct voice, data, and video traffic seamlessly. In order to keep standards high, Cisco has created a Cisco Career Certifications Program. It has everything from entry-level certifications, to advanced, professional, expert, and even architect level certificates.
While it is a good idea to consider advanced certificates, younger individuals should take things one step at a time and focus on building a foundation with the entry-level certificates. The best way to do this is with the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. Attaining a CCNA certificate will show employers that you have the following skills:
- Knowledge on how to install, operate and troubleshoot networks that use Cisco equipment
- A good understanding of wireless networking
- Know how to reduce security threats using Cisco systems and equipment.
Linux is an open-source operating system, which means that it is easy to customize and modify individual preferences. Customization is quickly making it the go-to option for people that prefer the creative potential behind it. This includes a lot of large organizations and government offices as well. People interested in understanding Linux and setting up a career in the Linux field should consider getting the proper certifications. Getting a Linux certification will show potential employers that you have a good understanding of the open-source platform and increase your chances of getting a job. Completing the right Linux certification will provide you with a solid foundation to pursue the following career paths.
- Server Administration
- System Administration
- Network Engineer
The International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) is an organization that offers certification in IT and e-business. Due to the high demand for security in the IT world, one of their most popular certifications among young people is the Certified Ethical Hacker certification. It shows potential employers or clients that you have a good understanding of security and the know-how to prevent hacks and data breaches.
The EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker certification will teach you how to spot weaknesses in networks, and how to hack into vulnerable networks. However, these skills will be used to protect entities instead of inflicting damage. This is in high demand in sectors with a lot of sensitive information, like the finance, insurance, and government sectors. Possible career opportunities the Certified Ethical Hacker include:
- Security Analyst
- Security Engineer
- Security Consultant
- Network Engineer
Benefits of Getting Certified Young
There is no shortage of options when it comes to quality certifications. The only thing it will require is an investment of time, money, and energy. Individuals that decide to invest in themselves early on stand to gain a lot of benefits, such as:
A lot of people associate being young to a carefree time in which people spend their days partying or worse nothing at all. Taking the time to get certifications shows potential employers or customers that you are willing to put your time into something that matters. It lets people know that you are not only young but ambitious, and focused on reaching your goals.
Not a lot of people will admit this to themselves, but finding employment is a competition. Not only are you looking to impress potential employers, but you are also looking to stand head and shoulders above the other people looking to fill the position. Having certifications to show will demonstrate to employers or clients that you have the expertise required in a particular area or areas and that a reputable and recognizable organization attests to that. They will differentiate you as more capable and responsible in the eyes of people that make the hiring decisions.
Certifications are not only there to help you stand out, but they are also a representation of your dedication and effort in a certain field. You will have a firm understanding of concepts, as well as the up-to-date tools and technical strategies that will help you make important decisions and get things done more efficiently. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to organize, streamline, and execute your duties.
Expand Knowledge and Skills
Constantly looking for ways to improve your understanding of a specific field through courses will give you a lot of knowledge and skills. This means that you will be able to make meaningful decisions and enjoy your work. As you hone your craft, you will also have the skills and confidence to put yourself out there and try to improve things. This can prove to be very beneficial to everyone in your company. In addition to that, your knowledge will always be a part of you. If later in life, you feel like pursuing another career path, you will always have the experience and knowledge you picked up in your youth.
Maximize Earning Potential
The great thing about investing your time, money, and effort into certifications is that you get a return on your investment – a big one. In most cases, individuals that take the time to learn and improve their craft out-earn those that do not. This is because employers and clients will understand the higher costs associated with specialized training and are willing to pay people that can provide consistent and good work. In fact, numerous studies done around the earning potential of people with certificates showed that they are likely to outearn competitors anywhere from 20 to 40%.
Steps To Getting Certified at An Early Age
We have gone over some of the best certifications to pursue, as well as the benefits you get from getting certified. Now it is time to look at the steps you will need to get certified by the age of 20.
- Get Focused and Make a Decision
If you want to make the most of your time and have certifications at an early age, it is important not to squander your time and energy with indecision. The only way to make progress is to define a goal and work towards it. When it comes to certifications, take some time, and consider what interests you. Look at the fields that draw your attention and then look at the certifications that are associated with that field. Once you find the certifications that will bring you closer to your end goal, follow through, and invest your energy into making it happen.
- Gain a Good Understanding of What it Takes to Get Your Desired Certification
The more information you have, the more you will be able to prepare. Invest some time into mapping out the journey and tasks that go into getting certified. Start by considering exam objectives. Each certification aims to provide a certain skillset to candidates. If you understand what the information the exam considers important, you will focus on that and not waste time with irrelevant concepts and ideas. Once you have an outline of the objectives, try and find out what questions the examination can have. A great way to do this is with practice tests. They are a good option even if you have not started studying yet since they will build up expectations of what is to come. Finally, consider the details of the examination. This includes things like the format of the exam, allowed time, location, and passing score.
- Get Organized
Time management is very important when it comes to examinations. Take things slow and avoid cramming too much information at one time. Schedule your activities and make sure to include studying on a daily basis. The only way you are going to ace an examination is by putting in the time and going over the necessary information.
- Study, Study, Study
A lot of people fail examinations because they do not study effectively. Make sure that you create an environment that makes studying easy and not a chore. This can include a designated study location, planned study times, group work, or even classes. By consistently incorporating it into your daily activities, it will become a lot easier to grasp concepts and retain them. When it comes to studying for certifications, candidates have two main approaches. These are tackling everything on their own or getting professional assistance.
Studying On Your Own
A lot of these certifications do not require individuals to have any prior experience, nor do they insist on classes. They simply put out their objectives and allow students to schedule times to take the examination. This means that candidates are free to take on the exams without any assistance. There is certainly a lot of information online that covers these topics. However, students that choose to do everything on their own tend to struggle. They sometimes have difficulties grasping certain concepts or approach topics randomly. This can create holes in their knowledge and cause them to fail examinations.
Courses and Programs
Courses and programs are the best way to get prepared for any certification. Some people tend to avoid courses and programs for their additional costs. However, these expenses are usually worth it and can save you a lot of time and money. They are organized to systematically cover the objectives the certificates are looking for. In addition to that, you will always have the ability to ask learned professionals for explanations about difficult concepts. Utilizing the power of courses will not only make learning easier, but it will make your solo studying a lot more efficient and impactful.
If you are interested in improving your chances of getting certified, then consider visiting MyComputerCareer. We are an educational center that has dedicated itself to helping those brave and ambitious enough to pursue IT certifications. We have locations all over the U.S. and offer online classes as well. We have numerous programs that will help you prepare for all of the most popular IT certifications. In addition to that, we also have a career service that helps you make the most out of your certifications and knowledge.