There is no doubt that Information Technology has become an essential part of our lives. The way we live, work, and play has changed dramatically in the last two decades, and IT has been at the forefront of this change. As our reliance on technology grows, so does the demand for qualified IT professionals.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the swift increase in remote work, the skill gap within the Information Technology sector has only increased. A recent study by the International Data Corporation (IDC) found that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation plans of companies by an average of six months. This means there is an even greater need for qualified IT professionals. If you are looking to launch or further your career in IT, earning a certification is a great place to start.
MyComputerCareer is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training, which is continuously recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a reliable authority on educational quality since 1978. MyComputerCareer offers Financial Aid for those who qualify and multiple IT training programs and courses in various fields such as Cybersecurity, Networking, Systems Administration, and more. Once the training is complete, candidates are in an excellent position to earn IT certificates while maintaining access to the school’s Career Services department.
This article will explore the best certifications along with the best way to pursue them. Before that, however, let’s look at what folks hoping to enter the IT sector should choose; an IT degree or certification?
Certifications Or College Degree?
For years, the debate has raged on; is it better to get an IT degree or earn your certifications? As with most things in life, the answer is… it depends. The best way to determine whether you should get a degree or a certification is to look at your long-term career goals and what will best help you achieve them.
Certifications may give you an edge over a lack of experience when it comes to finding employment. IT certificates demonstrate competence in certain fields allowing resume scanners to determine whether you meet the requirements of the job. Of course, IT qualifications are meaningless unless they are relevant to the position.
What about education? According to a CompTIA Employer Perception Study, around 49 percent of the 2.3 million IT job postings did not require a four-year degree from potential employees. So, while useful, not having a 4-year degree isn’t a deal-breaker when it comes to gainful employment in IT. Job advertisements are meant to appeal to individuals that fulfill the requirements of the position. If you have an IT certification that is relevant to the responsibilities of the job, it can help you get there faster.
In general, recruiters are looking for individuals with the required abilities and knowledge to begin working right away. Candidates are evaluated based on whether they will bring value to the firm and whether they will be good long-term investments. A computer science degree may appeal to recruiting agents seeking committed people to fill long-term jobs. However, because of the sector’s evolution, a degree may not always be sufficient.
Most CIOs are seeking employees who are always learning and adaptable because IT is a dynamic sector. Most IT employment also requires applicants to have a thorough fundamental understanding of the tech industry as a whole. Furthermore, people with problem-solving and business skills are more likely to be selected for IT jobs.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Earning an IT Degree
According to conventional thought, a college education can help people achieve their goals in life. Degrees may indeed be beneficial, but only to a certain extent. Various paths provide students with a solid fundamental understanding of the field in IT. Information security, networking, computer science, computer engineering, and programming are just a few of the IT specialties studied at institutions worldwide.
There are, nonetheless, drawbacks to earning a degree. Getting a degree can be time-consuming and costly, and there are several requirements to complete a 4-year program. If you don’t yet have a professional specialty defined, this might give you some breathing room to consider your options.
Despite the fact that degrees may cover a range of IT topics, the knowledge acquired through this training is more broad-based than a credential. A college education provides a solid foundation in IT knowledge, but it is less specialized in one area. Certificates are a solid alternative as they might provide more up-to-date information, although this isn’t always the case.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Earning an IT Certificate
Generally speaking, IT certificates take less time and cost far less money to obtain than information technology degrees. Certifications can also help you validate your current knowledge in a certain area of IT. Having certifications can also provide the background to help you find your ideal job faster and easier.
Of course, earning IT certifications rather than a degree comes with some drawbacks. To gain more professional IT credentials, you must first obtain the necessary qualifications and then work your way up to obtaining them.
Typically, earning more than one credential implies that you’ll have to work harder and study longer. However, enhancing your skills with other certificates as your career progresses may help you stay sharp and up-to-date. Certificates may also be acquired in addition to a bachelor’s degree to boost additional qualifications over time in your profession.
Certifications Or College Degree?
- IT professionals with a degree in the field might show a basic understanding of the business and their overall interest in the sector.
- For an IT work sector that is concerned with a rapidly evolving technological field, it may be beneficial to obtain credentials that demonstrate the requisite abilities and expertise needed to keep one’s job.
However, once you have been placed by a company, the benefits of earning a degree or certificate do not end. The compensation and career advancement opportunities in these careers may vary considerably.
According to PayScale, the average yearly salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in IT is $73,000. While certificate holders may eventually earn more, people with bachelor’s degrees are more likely to begin at a higher pay. Obviously, the amount will increase with additional education and work experience. Certificate holders, on the other hand, make 24% more than bachelor’s degree holders. So it all boils down to what abilities are necessary to succeed in your field rather than having a certificate or degree.
The choice to pursue an IT degree or certification is primarily determined by your present position and where you want to go in the future. Those who know what they want out of their profession and a prospective sector may be better served by obtaining a specialized certificate. Those who have more time and money to spare can also benefit by starting with a degree in computer science.
Certificates are also beneficial to those who need up-to-date, relevant information on an IT topic. The degree path might be appropriate for people looking to show their basic IT skills and to gain experience in various domains. This may help individuals considering a career in IT because it will provide them with information on several different aspects of the industry.
However, in order to be successful, they must have the financial and time resources to devote to their education. The IT industry, on the other hand, is built on talents. Even if you choose one path or another, as long as your abilities are certified in the field where you wish to develop, you’ll succeed.
What Are The Best Entry-Level and Intermediate IT Certifications?
When you’re starting out in your career, it’s important to choose the best certifications possible. Certifications are a way of showing employers that you have a certain level of skill and knowledge in a specific area. They can also help you find a job more easily if you know what you want to do.
The CompTIA A+ certification is the perfect starting point for anyone looking to enter the IT field. It covers a wide range of topics, from basic PC repair to networking and security. Earning this certification will show employers that you have strong IT concepts and skills foundation. This certification is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to enter the Information Technology sector.
If you’re new to the IT world and don’t know which certifications to pursue first, the A+ is a good place to start. It’s great for people with 9 to 12 months of field or lab experience, as well as those with similar training.
CompTIA has had a new certification exam system in place since 2019. Candidates must pass two tests to earn A+ certification under the new system:
- Core 1 (exam 220-1001) – hardware, cloud computing, mobile devices, virtualization, network troubleshooting, and technology.
- Core 2 (exam 220-1002) – installing and configuring operating systems, software troubleshooting, operational procedures, and security.
The CompTIA Network+ certification is geared towards networking professionals. It covers the basics of network installation, configuration, and management. Earning this certification will show employers you have the skills necessary to manage and maintain a corporate network.
The Network+ is a good certification for people with 18 to 24 months of networking experience. It’s also a great choice for those who have completed a degree in computer science or information systems. This certification has been updated as of 2019. The new certification exam covers topics such as network architectures, security, and troubleshooting. To earn the Network+ certification, candidates must pass exam N10-008.
Microsoft Certified Fundamentals
The Microsoft Certified Fundamentals (MCF) certification is for people who want to start their career in IT with a Microsoft certification. It covers the basics of using and managing Windows devices. Earning this certification will show employers that you have basic knowledge of using and managing a Windows device.
- Microsoft Azure Server Fundamentals – The Microsoft Azure Server Fundamentals certificate is the top IT credential for those interested in cloud computing. The storage, networking, virtual machines, and web applications are all topics included in this certification. To obtain the highest IT certification, MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, you must pass the AZ-900 Azure Server Fundamentals exam. You will be qualified for a systems administrator or cloud administrator role if you have an AZ-900 certificate on your CV.
- Microsoft Security, Compliance & Identity Fundamentals – The Microsoft Certified SC-900: Security, Compliance & Identity Fundamentals’ top Information Technology certificate covers a variety of topics, including identity management, authentication techniques, threat detection, and more. It also prepares you for jobs such as security administrator or information security analyst.
The Linux Essentials certification is for people who want to start their career in IT with a Linux certification. It covers the basics of using and managing Linux devices. Earning this certification will show employers you have basic knowledge of using and managing a Linux device.
The Linux Essentials exam (010-160) measures fundamental Linux knowledge and abilities. You must be comfortable with the Linux operating system, use the command line, navigate directories, and work with files to pass this test. Key concepts like networking, security, and system administration are also essential.
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential validates that you have the knowledge and abilities to manage and optimize today’s most sophisticated networks. The CCNA exam tests your grasp of networking fundamentals, IP services, security fundamentals, automation, and programmability. The CCNA is intended to be adaptable and flexible, demonstrating you have the skills required to maintain and improve today’s most complicated networks.
With a CCNA, you’ll be qualified for entry-level network engineer jobs and may progress your career by progressing to higher-level Cisco certifications. Earning your CCNA demonstrates you have the abilities to set up, manage, maintain, and repair medium-sized routed and switched networks. The CCNA certification is proof you have the knowledge necessary for a successful IT networking career. The CCNA is an excellent starting point if you want to enter or advance your IT networking career.
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
The Cisco Certified Network Professional is a mid-level certification that covers various networking topics, such as routing, switching, and network security. The CCNP is intended for network engineers who wish to advance their careers and become specialists in networking technologies.
The CCNP credential is for IT network specialists who have completed the CCNA training and wish to further their knowledge. This certification curriculum includes numerous courses covering fundamental IT networking topics. This certificate program is meant for network engineers who must diagnose, install, and maintain networks with a size of 100 to 500 nodes. Students in this program will also study a variety of network components and protocols, including Routing Redistribution, Access Lists, Ethernet, and AppleTalk.
What Are The Best Cybersecurity Certifications?
When it comes to the best cybersecurity certifications, there are many options to choose from. However, some certs stand out more than others. The most in-demand and respected certs in the cybersecurity field are:
Earning your CompTIA Security+ credential demonstrates to employers you have the skills and understanding needed to safeguard their networks against hackers and malware. This intermediate-level certification is an excellent method to demonstrate your dedication to lifelong learning while also keeping up with the most recent security concerns. To obtain your Security+ certification, you must pass a test covering topics such as network security, compliance, operational security, risks and vulnerabilities, and access control and identity management.
Although there are no specific prerequisites for the Security+ certification, CompTIA advises candidates to have two years of IT administration experience with a security focus or the Network+ credential before taking the test.
The CompTIA Security+ certificate was created with a security expert in mind who has significant IT security expertise and basic technical information security knowledge. The CompTIA Cybersecurity Career Pathway is the first certificate program in the field of IT security that covers seven distinct cybersecurity certifications and helps everyone advance their career in the sector.
CompTIA’s intermediate-level certification for IT security analysts is the CySA+. The CySA+ covers the most essential elements of cybersecurity, such as data analysis, vulnerability identification and mitigation, and threat prevention or mitigation. Candidates for the CySA+ should have previous experience in network administration and security and a solid understanding of at least one major Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution.
Earning your CySA+ certification may help you stand out among other applicants who hold only entry-level credentials. Furthermore, the CySA+ can lead to more lucrative employment and can aid in the completion of further mid-level or even senior-level IT security certifications. If you’re interested in a career in IT security, the CySA+ is a fantastic complement to CompTIA Security+.
One of CompTIA’s most advanced security credentials is the CASP+ accreditation. The goal of the CASP+ is for cybersecurity experts. Candidates should have at least ten years of IT administration experience and five years in cybersecurity. They must also be familiar with a variety of operating systems, networking technologies, and cloud-based solutions.
The CASP+ exam includes a variety of topics, such as risk management, incident response, research and analysis, and connecting computers to company networks. Earning your CASP+ certification will show you are a competent cybersecurity expert capable of handling the most difficult security challenges.
Earning the EC-Council’s Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential is an excellent method to demonstrate to employers you have what it takes to be a top-notch security expert. One of the most well-known and widely recognized IT security certificates is the CEH credential. You’ll receive the skills you need to defend your company’s IT infrastructure against cyber-attacks if you obtain the Certified Ethical Hacker certification.
The CEH exam covers a number of topics, such as footprinting and reconnaissance, scanning networks, system hacking, trojans and backdoors, viruses and worms, denial of service assaults, social engineering, session hacking, wireless network attacks, sniffers (sniffers), web application vulnerabilities (SQL injection), system administration misconfiguration (system administration misconfiguration), identity management issues (identity management), encryption, and more.
The CEH certification is valid for three years, and you may renew it by retaking the test or obtaining continuing education credits. Earning your CEH certificate will show you are a competent, ethical hacker with the ability to detect and counter security risks.
There are a lot of IT certifications available, and it can be overwhelming to try and figure out which ones are best for you. This guide will help you understand the importance of becoming certified in Information Technology and how to decide between earning a degree or certification.
MyComputerCareer offers training for numerous IT certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, Linux, and the EC-Council. It also provides its students with specialized programs such as Cyber Security Specialist (CSS), the Information Technology Security and Administration (ITSA), Cyber Security Engineer (CSE), and the Associate of Applied Science in Network Administration and Cyber Security.
Contact us today if you want to learn more about becoming certified in the world’s top organizations and are looking to get a high-paying job in IT.