The sectors and divisions that make up the information technology industry are vast and ever-evolving. As the industry continues to grow so do the types and sets of certifications needed by IT professionals. Whether you are a seasoned veteran or just finished your undergrad in computer science, it can be confusing to know which certifications are necessary for your next step, or even where to start.
First, why should I get certified? There is a myriad of reasons why you should seek out certifications in a number of IT-related programs, software or skills, but three reasons are key: credibility, marketability, and personal development.
Credibility: Certifications can help IT professionals do their jobs faster and more effectively because they are able to troubleshoot issues and complete projects more quickly. Certifications also help the organization meet client requirements and avoid skills gaps. IT certifications are testaments to your skills and proficiency in a certain area. For example, becoming an AWS Solutions Architect tells hiring managers, companies, and clients that you have the experience and skills needed to effectively create, design, manage and maintain an AWS cloud environment. This is the biggest reason why IT professionals pursue IT certifications. It helps to validate your skills and expertise in your current job.
Marketability: No matter where you are in your IT career, certifications will almost always give you an edge over non-certified IT professionals. Certifications do more than just validate your skills and experience – it shows potential employers you are committed to the IT field by spending the money and time to obtain your certifications. IT certifications also make career advancement more likely. The plain truth is that, in general, IT certifications can help you get a pay raise or a promotion and the right certifications could mean anywhere from an 8 to 16 percent increase in your pay. Lastly, certifications are a must in certain sectors within IT. Consultants and people who are self-employed would be wise to obtain certifications so more clients will trust them. Additionally, most government IT positions require certain certifications for you to be eligible for hiring.
Personal Development: IT is a dynamic field with new technologies being introduced every day. Certifications are important to ensure you are on top of these developments and your skills are up-to-date. Continuing education and training can help you cover new areas while also reinforcing the skills you already have. Think of it as a refresher course that can help you identify and overcome problem areas. Certification can also help you to network with other IT professionals. Your next job, project or endorsement could very well come from someone you met at a study group or technical conference related to a certain certification exam. Certification can help you meet IT professionals who have similar interests and specialties as you. Heading down a certification path will also give you access to resources that would not be available otherwise. There’s also something to be said about the personal satisfaction that comes with acing an exam that validates your expertise. Go ahead, put your certificate on your wall or add those letters after your name!
Ultimately, your certification path should reflect your career path. There are two things that you should know about certifications. The first is that hiring managers will be able to weed out applicants who have obtained certifications but don’t have the appropriate job experience. A certification alone will not help you land a job nor will it make you ready to perform a certain function. Secondly, real-world experience is imperative with the technology, devices, and software involved in the certification you are seeking. Choosing your certification path depends where you are now, where you want to go, and what functions and/or work-related experience you have in your profession.
The below list is a short snapshot of some of the most desired technical certifications:
- Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect
- AWS DevOps Engineer
- Certified Salesforce Developer
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)
- SAP Certified Technology Associate (SAP CTA)
- CCIE Data Center
- Six Sigma Black Belt
- Azure Solutions Architect Expert
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- ITIL Foundations
- Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP)