Bachelor Degrees are becoming the norm in most technical fields these days, especially the IT field. A Computer Science degree, on its own, no longer separates one candidate from the next. Hiring managers frequently seek out people with specialized skills that can start right away. Vendor certification is one sure way to obtain specific skills that employer’s desire. Regardless of whether you’re looking to work for a large enterprise, a small business, or even the government, certification validates your talents. Getting certified helps you stand out and get hired or move ahead.
IT certifications come in many different areas, including security, storage, project management, and cloud computing, just to name a few. Many vendors also certify at a number of different levels.
Microsoft, for example, offers several degrees of certification ranging from entry to expert level. The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification covers the basics of IT infrastructure. Above that comes Windows 8 or Windows 10 certification also known as MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate). The next rung up the ladder would be the advanced MCSE (Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert) credentials.
So how do you choose among so many options? Whether you’re just starting out, or even an old pro, the huge number of choices can feel overwhelming. Unlike some industries that have a single standard or two, IT is an extremely diverse field with many specialties and tiers of ability. Much will depend on your skill level and current situation. Someone with a degree in computer science, for example, would likely opt for an advanced certificate. A small office manager however, might put a Windows 10 certification to better use.
So consider these three important questions when selecting an IT certification. First, am I entry-level, advanced, or senior? Next, do I already have a specialty or a particular field I would enjoy pursuing? Finally, will my new-found talents help me get a job or help advance my current situation in some way? Think hard and be honest with yourself.
A few other important factors to consider would be cost, shelf life, and relevance. How often will I need to recertify. Am I spending my time and money learning something that probably won’t be useful five years from now? The test isn’t free and prices on average range from $150 to $200. Also, it’s very likely that you’ll want to take a paid course to prepare and pass the first time. Pick a field that will give you a good run for the money.
So even though there’s a lot to think about, remember that getting a certificate shows that your skills are current, separates you from your peers, and if nothing else, provides you with personal satisfaction that you’ve mastered a new field.