The IT industry is an ever-changing and highly dynamic field. It is arguably one of the fastest-growing industries in the world, and if you’re considering starting a career in this field, you will definitely be on a successful career-building path. If you are looking to create a niche for yourself in the IT world, you will encounter tremendous opportunities. But first, you will have to develop skills and understand the rudiments that will make you capable of functioning effectively in the IT industry. That is why earning an IT certification is imperative in launching you off in this career path.
In the IT world, professional certifications are independent endorsements that indicate that you have all the skills required to effectively perform a task that will be put in your hands. As the IT industry keeps evolving, new types of certifications continue to emerge. Because of the sheer number of specializations, certifications, certification paths, and certification providers available, you may be confused about where to begin.
MyComputerCareer brings you a comprehensive how-to guide to passing certification exams to help you understand the necessary steps to obtaining the right professional certifications. For more information, contact us today!
IT Certifications and Certification Exams
IT. certifications are designed to educate and validate your specialized competency in targeted areas of information technology. They are typically vendor-specific and can be obtained through hands-on experience, education, and an assessment of a specific set of skills.
Why Do You Need an IT Certification?
The answer is simple and straightforward – if you want credentials, then you’ll need to pass the exams required for them. The best way to launch an IT career, stay competitive in the industry, or increase your salary is to get certified. According to CompTIA, IT certifications are a reliable predictor of an employee’s competency. When it comes to hiring the right talent, 91% of employees claim that certifications are critical. Once you get certified, you have a testimony to your skill and knowledge in that particular IT field. A certification is right for you, whether you are starting out or are mid-level and looking to thrive in your field.
There are three key reasons for getting certified:
- Personal and professional development
Personal and professional development
Since new technologies are introduced frequently, the IT sector is quite a dynamic field. It is important to get certified to ensure that your skills are up-to-date will the latest developments. For example, earning certification on a recently released application, platform, or operating system will be proof that you have achieved what not many people have done – you became certified on a new product. Passing your exam for a new certification is challenging because of the lack of advice and study materials available from other certified professionals. It will put you on the map as an expert in that subject matter, and it will shine a positive light on your prior efforts. Besides helping you cover new areas, certification training will also help you reinforce the skills you already have.
By preparing to pass a certification exam, you will gain access to resources you couldn’t otherwise get, such as training materials, study materials, access to online forums, and any other study resource provided by professional certification providers. During certification training and in your testing center, you will get a chance to meet other IT professionals that may lead you to your next project, endorsement, or job.
When a hiring manager looks at your resume and sees an IT certification, you will have an advantage over other applicants who don’t have one. Combined with hands-on experience, these certifications tell enterprises, firms, and hiring managers that you have the competence and skills to handle the demands and expectations of specific IT jobs. Also, certain certifications are appropriate, regardless of where you are in your IT career.
Earning a certification or a set of certifications will provide you immediate professional credibility because certification is a testament to your proficiency and skills in a particular area. For example, being a VMware Certified Professional will tell companies, hiring managers, and clients that you have everything you need to create, manage, design, and maintain a cloud environment. If you are a certified IT professional, who is going to question that? Having several certifications will tell that you are motivated and dedicated to your development, and companies often support employees in earning these certifications.
Which IT Certifications Should I Get First?
Once you decide that you want to get certified, the question you have probably asked yourself is, “Which one should I obtain first?” In order to make the right decision, ask yourself:
- Where do I want to go in my IT career?
- What experience and functions do I have in my profession?
- Should I go with vendor-specific or vendor-neutral certifications?
If you are looking to join a company that specializes in a specific vendor, then you should go with vendor-specific. As for vendor-neutral specifications, they are intended for broad interchangeability and compatibility of tools and technologies. Choose that if you want to find a role within an organization that utilizes many different solutions and tools.
The perfect example of a vendor-neutral certification is CompTIA. Most IT professionals start with CompTIA A+ and then proceed to pass the exam for CompTIA Network+ certification. On the other hand, an example of a vendor-specific certification is Cisco. The best place to start is with CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), and then proceed to do the CCENT (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician), CCDA (Cisco Certified Design Associate), CCDP (Cisco Certified Design Professional), and more expert Cisco certifications.
Passing an MCP certification exam is a great place to start if you are looking to keep your focus on Microsoft systems. Microsoft Office Specialist is probably the most useful Microsoft certification for beginners and can be great for general tech support workers. Their more advanced level courses include MCSD and MCSE courses.
What Certifications are Worth Getting in 2020?
Taking an IT certification training course is an investment. Therefore, it is logical that you would want to go for those that are in-demand and with the most value in the IT job marketplace. Some of the most valuable IT certifications across all skills levels include:
- CompTIA Certifications (A+, Server+, Network+, Security+, CySA+, CASP+)
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Linux Essentials
With the advent of cloud computing technologies (which has quickly become an industry standard), there has been a surge in new job roles and specialties. Since cloud computing specialists are sought-after, with these certifications, you can reach a sizable salary quickly. Certifications for cloud computing are typically vendor-specific, and to pursue a job in this sector, you should get a CompTIA Cloud Essentials/CompTIA Cloud+ certification.
With a steady increase in the number of security breaches, one thing is obvious – good security technicians are needed, and they are always likely to find employment. One of the most valued and useful security certifications in this sector is Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH).
How Do I Study for a Professional Exam??
Before taking these exams, professionals don’t need to receive formal training, and many of them study at their leisure time before taking them. Those ready to take the exam and embark on an IT career path are strongly advised to join a well-established training institute and invest in formal training. Formal training comes with many advantages:
- Thanks to structured courses, you will be able to move through them quickly and obtain your certification faster.
- You are less likely to give up studying and fall behind because you will have mentors to motivate you and help you keep going.
- The courses bring in a lot of information and cover a wide variety of subjects because they are comprehensive and more structured.
By taking formal training, you will have live interaction with experts on the matter. They have real-world, hands-on experience they can impart to you. With decades of experience behind them, authorized training experts can help you with the trickiest exam questions and go into detail about different concerns. Besides their expertise, learning with experts will eliminate the fear of studying from old and outdated material. The world of technology changes rapidly, so there’s no way of knowing if a certain training resource is up to date. However, with instructors by your side, any recent tech update can be addressed as it occurs.
Let us take a look at a few crucial tips for passing your exam.
- You can never be too prepared
Certification exams are designed to turn away people with insufficient knowledge. The best exam preparation tip we can give you is to study every day and utilize effective study techniques to retain the information better. For example, it is easy to forget essential pieces of information and be frustrated with the study materials if you study for two hours in an environment packed with distractions. If you cannot focus on the study material, then your studying is ineffective. On the other hand, studying for an hour in a distraction-free and calm environment can be a lot more effective (regardless of the study time being shorter), and you’ll be able to retain the information better and cover more of the subject matter.
Create the right conditions for studying to save yourself time and effort, and make sure you feel confident when the exam day comes. If you have no previous computer background, expect about 2-3 months of 3-4 hours per day study time. It is imperative to prioritize and structure to maximize your study effectiveness.
2. Research exam objectives
Review the exam objectives and see what topics will be covered on the exam. Every exam objective has its sub-objectives, which, in turn, have their own sub-objectives. Study each topic to understand all the necessary skills, and you will be able to answer most of the exam questions. Are there any prerequisites, mandatory or recommended professional experience, and other requirements? Make sure you know the exam format (e.g., performance-based, multiple answer, multiple choice, etc.), how much time you have to complete the test, version of the exam, delivery method, and passing score.
3. Don’t forget to use practice tests
Practice tests are the best way to test your readiness. Many study guides include exam practice test questions at the end of each chapter, and you should use them to test your topic comprehension. When using these tests, your objective is not to answer them all correctly but to test your comprehension. With multiple choice questions, you should be able to look at a question and know why the incorrect answers are incorrect and why the correct ones are correct. If you only look for the correct answer, certain practice test questions will seem incomprehensible. But the correct answer becomes obvious once you manage to eliminate incorrect answers. Also, it is best not to rely on a single study resource and exam practice test.
4. Take a look at the old versions of the certification exams
To get an idea of what to expect on the exam day, you should study older versions of the certification exam. Go through them, look at the exam questions and answers, find the topics that are tested regularly, and understand the test structure. When it comes to taking tests, going over older versions of an exam will help you prepare better for it.
5. Avoid brain dumps
Brain dumps are typically frowned upon. Anyone who has used such content to prepare for certification exams, or who has reproduced or published exam content can have their credentials revoked. Brain dumps are (supposedly) exam questions with (supposedly) actual exam answers, but many of them have incorrect answers. Some people use different methods to capture the questions, guess the correct answers, and then try to sell them. However, brain dumps don’t include explanations, so you are forced to memorize the questions and answers. People feeling pressure to pass the exams often resort to using stolen exam tests (or brain dumps) they bought online.
6. Create cheat sheets
Cheat sheets are beneficial because you can use them to refresh your memory (before you enter the testing center or the hall for taking tests) by skimming through the important information. Cheat sheets are easy-to-read documents that contain content bullet points on the subject. They can help you revise the content when you have a few minutes to spare or during your commute and keep the information fresh in your mind.
7. Know what it takes to pass a specific certification test
Having all the required technical knowledge is a prerequisite, and you have got that covered if you have studied for the exam. However, you should know the tips for taking the exam for specific professional certifications. For example:
CompTIA – CompTIA doesn’t penalize for incorrect answers, so always answer every question (whether you are sure about the answer or not). Make a guess because it won’t cost you a thing.
CCNA – The CCNA exam is comprehensive. It includes various topics, from the easiest questions to the most comprehensive routing protocols. The exams may seem tough to pass because of so much to study. We recommend you to focus on ICDN since it’s the base for any type of Cisco CCNA exam. The exam includes about 60 questions and takes 90 minutes to complete. Come prepared because answering that number of questions in such a short period can be stressful.
CEH – To pass the CEH exam, you need to get 88 of the 125 questions right, which equates to scoring 70% on the exam. You have a total of 240 minutes to finish the test. Given that it’s made up solely of multiple-choice questions, it should be more than enough to focus and finish it on time.
8. On the exam day
Before the testing day, be sure to go to bed on time to make sure you’re well-rested and ready to complete the test successfully. Eat a good breakfast because you need the energy to focus. Arrive at the test center at least half an hour early. Have the right form of identification with you. Make sure your mind is clear and not distracted by other thoughts. Remember that excess information is a waste of time – keep all the answers short, concise, on point. After you’ve written the answers, read them to make sure there are no errors.
IT certification exams are your gateway into the IT industry. When a hiring manager looks at your resume and sees several certifications, know that you have an advantage over other job applicants without certifications. MyComputerCareer courses are enriched with current best practices, and we offer specific certification exam prep courses that will help you gain the skills and information needed for passing certification exams. For more information, contact us today!