In the new hiring landscape, employers are increasingly looking for certifications that let them know that applicants can perform certain types of work. Of course, degrees are often necessary and attest to your skills. Even individuals who do not have a degree in IT or related fields can start a career in IT by getting certified. IT certifications can attribute to specific, tested benchmarks and show you are putting time and effort into developing your career.
What Type of Certification Is Right For You?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different certifications that you can obtain to attest to specific skill sets. Knowing which certification is best suited for you and your goals can be challenging. Here is some information that will help you know which one to pursue.
General IT Certifications
When starting a career in IT, obtaining a lower-level certification in a specific computer system is recommended. Although this may seem contradictory, getting a certification in a particular computer system is one of the most effective ways to get started. Several technology companies offer certification programs. The most common entry-level certifications come from companies like:
There are plenty more but look for these companies when getting an entry-level certification. Whether you have a specific company that you are interested in working for or are trying to build your skillset, choose something that will attest to your general competency.
Lower Level Certifications for Entry-Level Candidates
The Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) is a recommended lower-level certification that is in high demand. This certification can prove you are knowledgeable in installing, operating, and configuring routers, diagnosing and troubleshooting common issues, and working with Cisco products. Another favorable certification for general use is the CompTIA IT Fundamentals+. Just as it sounds, it is a lower-level certification that can prove general competency and covers core skills like establishing network connectivity, basic security practices, and identifying common software applications.
Other solid entry-level certifications include:
- Microsoft 365 Fundamentals
- Microsoft Technology Professional (MTA)
- Apple Certified Associate
- Linux Essential Professional Development Certification (PDC)
All of these certifications are general ones that will not break your bank. As an individual starting or switching careers, you may want to start here to save money. Later, an employer might ask you to go for or even pay for more advanced certification.
Digital Signage Certifications
Digital signage is a subsection of IT that is involved with configuring display technology. It is composed of three separate components: content, hardware, and software. Getting a certification in something less general has its perks, especially when showing that you have advanced knowledge beyond the basics. These standard digital signage certifications include:
- Certified Technology Specialist (CTS)
- Digital Signage Networks Expert (DSNE)
- Digital Signage Displays Expert (DSDE)
Cybersecurity certifications are a desirable qualification for hiring in the IT field today. As security becomes an increasing concern, and things like hacking and cyberterrorism are making the news, companies are ramping up cybersecurity. Many of these certifications require a proven background in an undergraduate degree or previous work experience, but some don’t. To bridge this gap in experience, you may want to first take a small course on the basics. If you are in the right experience level where you are ready to be certified in cybersecurity practices, look to these certifications:
- ISACA Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- ISACA Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
- ISACA Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
- ISACA Certified in the Governance of Enterprise (CGEIT)
- ISACA Cybersecurity Nexus (CSX)
- Certified Ethical Hacker
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)
Other Areas of Certification
There are certifications for almost anything you would need or any position in which you might be interested. Other popular areas within IT certification include cloud computing, database, and analytics technologies, project management, help desk, and networking.
Pros and Cons of Getting General vs. Specific Certifications
When thinking about getting a certification, be realistic and do your research. Although you might be capable and have the money to get an advanced cybersecurity certification, you should probably wait to get it if it does not align with your experience level and work history. There are pros and cons for each area of certification, from general to specific.
General IT Certifications
General certifications are great for entry and mid-level professionals. They generally cost less money and are easier to obtain, given some schooling or good study skills. These certifications are the most common ones in the “requirements” section of a job application.
However, these certifications still have cons. One big one is that many other applicants will have already received these certifications, and you will not stand out as much. It also can be time-consuming to spend time looking for the right one, studying and taking tests, and paying when much of the information is the knowledge you will gain on the job. Still, general certifications are a good way to supplement your resume or impress your employer.
Specialized IT Certifications
Specific certifications are great for individuals who know what they want to accomplish. They are more so for mid-level professionals who already have some experience in the field. Specific certifications help candidates stand out a ton, as 91 percent of employers report they want employees to hold certifications.
However, these types of certifications can become very expensive. They are good investments unless you change your mind about your career path. Also, getting a specific certification can carry more risk as not every job will require or care much about every certification. Nonetheless, they are impressive qualifications.
Which IT Certifications Are Most Valuable?
If money is the main goal you are after when getting a certification, you're in luck. Certifications do not automatically get you a raise or a high-salaried position, but statistically, they are predictors of high salaries. These certifications fall on the specific end of the spectrum and are generally only applicable after a solid foundation of industry experience.
The top five highest-paying certifications include:
- Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect ($175,761)
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect ($149,446)
- CISM Certified Information Security Manager ($148,622)
- CRISC Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control ($146,480)
- PMP Project Management Professional ($143,493)
As you can see from the titles, these are mid to upper-level types of certifications. Project managers and IT architects generally do make more money. Starting off with general, lower-level certifications and working your way up to more specialized and higher-paying certifications is highly recommended. Over time, getting certifications can be an excellent investment.
IT Support from BLM Technologies
Not sure which certifications you or your IT team need? IT support is the best way to access all relevant IT knowledge without the hassle of getting all the certifications. BLM Technologies is here to help with all of your IT needs. Contact our experts today to learn more!