10 of the Best Beginner IT Certifications for Your Career

Updated March 31, 2023

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When you're first starting your information technology (IT) career, it can be helpful to distinguish yourself as a candidate with a commitment to the field. Certifications are a way to highlight these attributes and grow your skills, making them a beneficial addition to an entry-level resume. Learning about the best certifications available for beginners in IT could help you choose the right ones to pursue.

In this article, we explain why pursuing IT certifications is important and provide a list of 10 of the best beginner IT certifications.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

10 of the best IT certifications

Here are 10 of the best and most popular IT certifications for beginners, according to ECPI University, Rutgers University, ICOH College, Community College of Baltimore County and The Global Tech Council:

1. Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

The CAPM is an entry-level certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It recognizes proficiency in the fundamental knowledge, processes and terminology associated with effective project management.

Requirements include:

  • At least a bachelor's degree

  • At least 23 hours of project management education

  • A certification fee

  • A passing score on an exam

The 150-question exam covers project management basics and skills needed for an IT project management position. Candidates have three hours to complete the proctored test. Renewal requires 15 personal development units every three years.

Related: Learn About Being an IT Project Manager

2. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

The CEH certification demonstrates you have the training necessary to search for and identify vulnerabilities in computer systems, an in-demand cybersecurity skill. EC-Council, a leading cybersecurity credentialing body, offers it. This certification teaches students to replicate potential security attacks, enabling them to better identify, evaluate and mitigate possible vulnerabilities.

Prerequisites include either:

  • At least two years of experience in the information security domain

  • Or participation in an EC-Council ethical hacking training program

  • Application fee

For the proctored certification exam, you have four hours to complete 125 multiple-choice questions.

Related: What Are Ethical Hacker Skills? (And How To Feature Them)

3. Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP from (ISC)² is a prominent certification in the IT industry that verifies your competence in information security, specifically when it comes to protecting an organization from a cyber attack. 

This certification also highlights the technical and managerial skills needed to succeed in this area to develop and maintain information security programs. It is often a requirement for positions like security analyst, IT auditor and information security analyst. The program covers the following topics:

  • Security and risk management

  • Asset security

  • Security architecture and engineering

  • Communication and network security

  • Identity and access management (IAM)

  • Security assessment and testing

  • Security operations

  • Software development security

Prerequisites include at least five years of experience in two or more of the above domains. A relevant college degree or approved credential may satisfy one year of work experience and an (ISC)² membership. After you complete the training courses, you take a 250-question exam within six hours.

Related: 10 Highest-Paying IT Certifications

4. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

This associate-level networking certification offered by Cisco replaces the CCNA Routing and Switching Certification. The CCNA credential demonstrates that you know the basics of how to run a network. It tests your knowledge of routers, switches and software.

Prerequisites include:

  • One or more years of experience implementing and administering Cisco solutions

  • Knowledge of basic IP addressing

  • A good understanding of network fundamentals

After taking a self-paced online course, you can take the proctored exam focusing on network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity and services, security fundamentals, automation and programmability. Five levels of exams are available, and your credential lasts for three years. Additional exams or up to 120 continuing education credits may be mandatory depending on your credential level.

Related: Top 17 IT Certifications in Demand for 2023

5. CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ (ITF+)

If you're switching career paths or beginning your IT career, this CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ certification may be ideal. It verifies your fundamental understanding of IT basics. The exam takes 60 minutes and includes 70 multiple-choice questions focusing on software development, database basics, security, software, applications, IT terminology and concepts, infrastructure and networks.

Related: 15 IT Certifications To Enhance Your Credentials

6. CompTIA A+

The CompTIA A+ certification is one of the most popular in the field. It's a hiring prerequisite for IT support positions at service centers or help desks. It verifies your ability to troubleshoot and solve problems with networking, operating systems, mobile devices and security. CompTIA recommends candidates have at least nine months of work experience.

Candidates pass two exams that validate nine major IT skills. Each has 90 questions to be completed in 90 minutes. Renewal occurs every three years with 30 hours of continuing education units.

Related: What Does an IT Support Specialist Do? And How To Become One

7. CompTIA Network+

The CompTIA Network+ is an entry-level certification that covers networking concepts, troubleshooting, operations, tools, security and IT infrastructure. It verifies your ability to design, manage and troubleshoot a variety of wired and wireless networks. It may benefit:

  • Network field engineers

  • Information security consultants

  • Junior system engineers

  • Network field technicians

  • Junior network administrators

Recommended prerequisites include:

  • CompTIA A+ certification

  • At least nine months of networking experience

The exam has up to 90 questions, with 90 minutes to answer them. You can renew your credential every three years with 30 hours of continuing education.

Related: 14 Top Jobs in Computer Networking

8. CompTIA Security+

Because security is essential to most IT jobs, this certification is a valuable addition to an entry-level resume. A CompTIA Security+ certification verifies that you have the skills to configure systems, ensuring that devices, networks and applications are secure and in compliance with laws and regulations. It has 90 questions, and candidates have 90 minutes to complete it. Certification renewal is necessary every three years with 30 hours of continuing education units. It can help prepare you for roles, including: 

  • Network, system and security administrators

  • Security specialists

  • Junior IT auditors

  • Security consultants

  • Security engineers

The exam addresses topics like: 

  • Identity and access management

  • Public key infrastructure (PKI)

  • Cryptography

  • Design

  • Risk management

  • Vulnerabilities

  • Attacks and threats

Related: 13 Types of IT Services: What They Are and How They Help

9. Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)

Designed as an entry-level certification for those switching careers or beginning a career in IT, specifically programming, the Microsoft Technology Associate certification covers IT basics, like software development, databases, HTML programming and infrastructure. It can benefit anyone interested in becoming an IT auditor or a systems, network or security administrator.

The MTA certification is open to anyone. It's the foundational certification for many of Microsoft's other credentials.

Related: 10 Types of Technical Competence and Examples

10. Systems Certified Security Practitioner (SSCP)

The SSCP from the International Information Security Certification Consortium (ISC)² certifies your skills in implementing, monitoring and administering IT infrastructure. It demonstrates technical skills and knowledge of best practices, policies and procedures. It is designed for:

  • Network security engineers

  • System administrators, engineers

  • Security analysts, consultants, administrators

  • Systems and network analysts

  • Database administrators

Prerequisites include at least one year of experience in one or more security-related areas or at least a bachelor's degree in computer science or a related field and an (ISC)² membership. The exam covers seven security-related topics with 125 questions and takes three hours.

Related: What Is Network Latency? (Plus Tips for Reducing It)

Tips for choosing a beginner IT certification

Below are some helpful tips to guide you in selecting the right credential for you:

  • Decide your career goals. Understanding what type of entry-level IT role you're targeting could help you decide what specialization you want to focus on, like security or networking.

  • Determine your budget. Certifications typically require a fee, so reflect on how much you're willing to pay for your credential.

  • Create a timeline. It may help to create a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) for earning certification to understand which programs fit into your timeline.

Benefits of pursuing IT certifications

Below are the benefits of pursuing certification in the IT field:

  • They can enhance your resume and improve your employability.

  • Basic IT certifications also give beginners valuable knowledge and confidence to help them succeed.

  • Strengthening your IT skills could qualify you for leadership positions in the future.

  • Certifications can help you leverage your transferable skills if you're changing industries.

Where to list beginner IT certifications on your resume

If you're new to the field, displaying your certifications clearly on your resume may help you supplement your experience and earn credibility with hiring managers. Here are some places you could include your certification on your IT resume:

  • Add it to your contact information. You can place your certification acronym behind your name in your header to verify your expertise to hiring managers immediately when they glance at your resume.

  • Mention it in your professional summary. When describing yourself in your summary, you could share your credential by name.

  • Include a certifications section. While it's optional, a section on your resume dedicated to certifications with a bullet list detailing the name, certifying organization and year you earned each distinction could be a way to draw attention to your credentials.

Related: How To List Certifications on a Resume

Jobs for beginner IT individuals

If you're interested in getting started working in information technology, there are a variety of jobs for you to consider. Here are 10 jobs for beginner IT individuals:

  • Help desk analyst

  • Front-end web developer

  • Quality assurance analyst

  • Software developer

  • Computer operator

  • Web designer

  • Digital project manager

  • Database administrator

  • Computer technician

  • IT support analyst

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