People who are looking for a way to get started in the technology field can use entry level certifications to show that they have a base level of knowledge. Those who are already employed in the technology field may seek certification as an avenue to pursue a higher paying position. There is some difference of opinion about which certifications are the most helpful to one's career.
The choice of certification should involve determining what one's career goals are. One's current experience level and skill set also plays a role in choosing which certification to pursue. A person that is seeking an entry level position should seek an entry level certification. Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA all offer entry level certifications. The vendor neutral certifications offered by CompTIA have some advantages because they are not tied to one single vendor. The Network+ certification would be an option for those seeking a career in networking. Security skills are sought after by many employers, making the Security+ certification another entry level certification that is beneficial for people entering the technology field.
For people with some experience, Microsoft has some good certifications to choose from. Because most companies use Microsoft products, it is important to have a good understanding of those products. Microsoft has many different certification paths. Programmers, system administrators, desktop support professionals, and help desk analysts all have their own certification tracks. The entry level certification for Microsoft is the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCST), which is achieved by passing any Microsoft exam. The next higher level of certification is the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP), which is achieved by passing between three and five exams, depending on the certification track that is chosen.
Security is becoming more important as threats against companies continue to increase. There are several different certifications from different vendors in the security field. The most respected of these is the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). This certification requires two years of IT security experience as a prerequisite. The certification exam is a challenging exam that requires in-depth knowledge of IT security.
People interested in a career in the networking field should consider certifications by Cisco. The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNS) is Cisco's entry level certification. It requires passing one exam to become certified. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) is the next higher level of certification. It requires passing three exams. The CCNA and CCNP are well respected certifications that many employers require for their networking positions.
One of the more popular certifications for those who are beginning their career in technology is CompTIA's A+ Certification. It requires passing two exams that cover the basics of computer hardware and operating systems. It provides a strong foundation to build upon with more advanced certifications. It is sought after by many employers because they know that A+ Certified individuals have the skills needed to begin as entry level technicians.
Some people ask why they should get certified at all. In today's competitive job market, those who have certifications will have an edge over people who do not have certifications. Studying for a certification also increases ones knowledge level for a particular technology. Certification is not a replacement for real world experience. The best way to advance ones career is to combine IT certifications with real world experience on the job.