Even in a bad job market, there's still a huge need for qualified IT professionals. And with so much competition for those jobs, the right certifications can give a candidate a huge advantage when applying for work. And according to Prometric's recent "2001 Certification and Training Study", two-thirds of IT professionals found their salaries increased thanks to their certifications and nearly a quarter have been given promotions due to their certifications. But what certifications do you need? That all depends on your career goals and what you want to focus on. Do you want to be a systems administrator? Are you more interested in PC support and maintenance? Is networking your thing? Do you want to be a programmer? What language? This article covers a few of the major certifications and then gives you some links to explore more.
Many entry-level IT professionals start out by getting their A+ certification. Sponsored by CompTIA, A+ is intended for computer service technicians who have at least six months of job experience. The test doesn't focus on any specific products, but is intended to cover a broad range of computer service and repair skills. If you're just starting your IT career and looking for a first certification, this is a great place to start.
These days, if you're involved in networking, you're going to be dealing with Cisco hardware in some way, shape, or form. Cisco offers three levels of certification (associate/professional/expert) in network installation/support and network engineering/design. Some of the most popular certifications are CCDP (Cisco Certified Design Professional), CCIE (Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert), and CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional).
Microsoft (MCSE, etc.)
Microsoft offers a slew of certifications and, once again, it's important to focus on the ones that are most closely tied to your career goals. The MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) is a good starting point and from there you can go a number of routes. Programmers will be interested in the MCAD (Microsoft Certified Application Developer) and MCSC (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer) certifications. Systems Administrators will want to focus on an MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) or MCSD (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer). And prospective DBAs would aim towards an MCDBA (Microsoft Certified Database Administrator) certification.
Get the certification you need to advance your career! Check our list of schools and colleges offering computer certification programs.
- CertCities.com: Online Certification Magazine
- CompTIA A+ Certification Overview
- Cisco Career Certifications
- Microsoft Training and Certification Guide