One thing’s for sure: there are a lot of IT certifications floating around. Check out a few IT help wanted ads, and you’ll find a veritable alphabet soup of requested or required credentials. Each certification you seek will cost time, effort, and money. How do you pick from among all those programs?
First, consider why you want the certification. Typically, it is to prove a baseline level of competence in a particular area, and knowledge of standards and practices. If you have looked for jobs recently, select the most frequent certification requested in the jobs that fit you. You don’t want a lack of certification to stand between you and your desired career path.
Narrow the Field
If you are not looking for a particular job, select certifications based on your area of interest. Do you prefer technical work, management, planning, or auditing? Is there a particular manufacturer, platform, or language you have specialized in? If you have strengths and experience, you may as well get the certificate to prove it. Here is a small sample of available certifications.
Area of Interest Specialty or Governance Body Candidates
Application programming Microsoft MCSA (4 available), MCSD
Ruby on RailsRuby Association Certified Ruby Programmer
Business ContinuityDRICBCP, MBCP
MicrosoftMCSE: Private Cloud
Database AdministrationOracleVarious certifications by database and release
SQL Server, MicrosoftMTA: database, MCSA: SQL Server, MCSE: Data Platform
ITD Processes Project Management (PMI)PMP, PgMP
Service Management ITIL Expert
Networking Cisco CCNP
System Administration Microsoft MTA: Infrastructure, MCSA: Windows Server, MCSE: Server Infrastructure
VMWare VCP, VCDX, VCP-DV
Figure the Cost and Benefit
If a particular group of certifications interest you, research them thoroughly. Some can only be gained after required classes and proctored tests. Classes are optional for others, but tests may rare and scattered around the country. Look for test sessions at various industry conferences, where some vendors offer both classes and testing in the days before or after the conference, and in the same venue. If your employer will send you to the conference, they may also fund an extra night’s lodging and the test fees as well.
Beware the costs involved. The average IT professional can easily afford some of the basic certifications, particularly if they are experience-based. Other costs are more suited for companies willing to invest in their staff. Before starting a course of study, be certain you have the funds available to complete the certification process, or your initial investment of time, effort, and money will be useless. Employers do not want to hear that you have started studying for a particular certification, they want to see it as proof of your credentials.
It pays to do your homework. Look at salaries for jobs with the certification of interest, and without. Is there a large enough difference to justify your investment? Check out the number of jobs requesting a particular certification and watch the buzzword trend in IT publications. Right now, cloud computing is hot. Whatever your opinion on cloud computing, a certification may open doors for you while that trend continues.
Plan your journey toward certification as you would plan a project. Collect study materials, estimate the time you need to master each topic, and lay out a timeline leading up to a scheduled test. Be certain you have the spare time and necessary resources to dedicate to your studies. If you can, sign up and prepay the test to give yourself a hard deadline. The certification process is meant to be tough, but it will pay off in the long run, both professionally and financially.
Knowledge Center Inc is a leading provider of information technology training courses. Computer training programs offered include CompTIA, Cisco, ITIL, CISSP, ISO20000 & Microsoft certification courses. Computer certification classes are held at KCI computer training center located at Ashburn, VA.