IT professionals have been having the same debate for years: are certifications important? And if they are, which ones are actually useful? This is an important question, considering the hefty price tags attached to most certifications.
The general consensus is that while some certifications are just fluff, there is a very good argument for getting well regarded certifications – it is an easy way to show employers that you actually have the knowledge you claim. While the certification alphabet can’t replace a great portfolio, certifications work by making an employer feel secure in their hiring choices.
That being said, there are some certifications that were standard a decade ago which are now unnecessary. Most employers don’t care about low end server administration certification, simply because the tools these days are fairly advanced and knowledge is easily gained with a relatively small level of exposure; also, so many IT professionals know it that it seems wasteful to require workers to pay for an expensive certification.
On that note, if the certification is too cheap, like some of the ten dollar set ups floating around the web, they probably won’t impress potential employers, who are likely to know that they are worthless certifications.
Microsoft’s MCSE and MCSA as well as other specialized certifications are very popular among potential employers; certifications from Oracle and Sun are also hot. Certifications by Red Hat, Novell, and LPI, all open source producers, are all valuable as Linux servers are increasingly used. Also, help desk certifications can still help IT workers land a help desk job. Some other good certification areas:
- Networking and security: Security is one of the most quickly growing IT job markets, with growth expected well into the future. Data breaches destroy client confidence and can suck the value out of market shares. CompTIA’s Security+ is a highly recommended security accreditation. This vendor neutral accreditation consists of just one test, and is meant for IT professionals with a minimum of two years experience. Holding this accreditation proves that the IT professional knows the basics about network infrastructure, access control, systems security, and more.
- Cisco: Consider the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification. Remote access technologies are becoming more crucial to small and midsize companies, which means that more employers are looking to hire tech professionals who are proficient in Cisco equipment administration.
- PMP: A good deal of accreditations are useful because they target specific areas of expertise; included in this description is the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. This exam is administered by a nonprofit organization called the Project Management Institute, or PMI. The Project Management is a popular and high profile association of project management practitioners, and the certification they offer assesses an IT professional’s management ability through testing of their planning, budgeting, and leadership skills. Before taking the exam, the candidate must have either five years project management experience or a combination of 35 hours of related coursework and three years of experience.