What IT Certification Should I Get?
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated April 5, 2021 | Published January 5, 2021
Updated April 5, 2021
Published January 5, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
In any industry, completing education programs can help you learn new skills and qualify for advanced positions. When you work in information technology (IT), you may have to meet education requirements to enter the field or pursue a promotion. With some IT certifications, you can also earn master key hardware and software or increase your earning potential. In this article, we explain why you should earn an IT certification and list several options to consider,
Why earn an IT certification?
As an IT professional, you have to be an expert in one or more types of hardware or software. By earning a certification, you show employers that you have the necessary skills for a job. Although you might opt to start with an entry-level certification, you can continue to earn more credentials throughout your career. As you do, you can qualify for higher-level positions and increase your salary.
Which IT certifications should I get to increase my salary?
Here are nine IT certifications that you might need for top-paying jobs:
1. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
Although the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner credential is considered entry-level, it can help you qualify for high-paying cloud computing positions. By earning this certification, you can demonstrate your cloud infrastructure capabilities and your knowledge of the AWS platform. You have to pass a fundamental AWS exam to earn this credential.
2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
If you aspire to specialize in cloud architecture, this credential can help you qualify for an advanced role. As an AWS Solutions Architect, you can become an expert in designing and maintaining cloud infrastructure on the AWS platform. To get this certification, you have to earn an entry-level AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner credential and pass an exam.
3. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
Many organizations rely on IT professionals who specialize in risk management, and a CRISC can help you acquire the necessary skills for this field. With this credential, you can learn how to identify IT threats, conduct risk analyses and manage security architecture. To get this certification, you have to pass a test that covers risk identification, assessment, response and reporting.
4. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
If you aim to focus on cybersecurity, acquiring a CISM can help you qualify for a top-paying position. With this credential, you can become an expert at managing information security, handling risk assessment and leading cybersecurity teams. To get this certification, you have to pass an exam that covers information security, risk management, program development and incident management.
5. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
One of the oldest and most well-established IT certifications, the CISA exam has evolved significantly since it first launched in 1978. Today, earning a CISA credential requires advanced knowledge of five areas, including protecting information assets, auditing systems, managing IT, developing information systems and managing the operation of information systems.
6. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Designed for senior IT professionals, a CISSP demonstrates your expertise in cybersecurity. You need at least five years of relevant work experience before you can earn the credential, which some industry experts consider the equivalent of a master's degree. The certification exam covers eight aspects of cybersecurity, including security architecture, network security, access management and software development security.
7. Google Certified Professional (GCP) Cloud Architect
Ideal for cloud computing professionals, this certification is designed to help you become an expert on the GCP platform. With a GCP Cloud Architect credential, you can design and manage secure cloud architecture that you can scale for your organization. To get this certification, you have to pass one advanced exam.
8. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation
To succeed as an IT professional, you need to know basic IT management techniques. By pursuing an ITIL Foundation credential, you can master concepts like agile and lean project management and development operations. After passing the exam to earn this certification, you can qualify for more specialized ITIL courses.
9. VMware Certified Professional 6 - Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV)
If you work with the VMWare vSphere 6 platform, earning a VCP6-DCV certification can help you enhance your skills. The courses for this certification cover topics like deploying virtualization technologies and mastering vSphere High Availability clusters. To earn this credential, you have to complete at least one authorized course and pass two exams.
What IT certification should I get first?
Here are four IT certifications that can help you get an entry-level job:
1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
If you plan to focus on information security, earning a CISSP may be essential. As you prepare for this certification, you must master your security engineering, risk assessment and access management skills. To get this credential, you have to pass an exam with up to 150 questions.
2. CompTIA Network+
If you specialize in networking, the CompTIA Network+ certification can help you pursue the career you want. By earning this credential, you can show your ability to set security standards and develop physical and virtual networks. To get the certification, you have to pass an exam with 90 questions.
3. CompTIA A+ Technician
As an important entry-level credential, the CompTIA A+ certification is the first that many IT professionals earn. With this credential, you can maintain computers, operating systems and mobile devices. To get the certification, you have to pass two exams with up to 90 questions apiece.
4. Linux Essentials Professional Development Certification (PDC)
If your role involves working with Linux systems, this entry-level certification may be necessary. By earning it, you can master this operating system and learn how to use its opensource software. To get this credential, you have to pass one 80-question exam.
Related: Learn About Being an IT Technician
What IT certification should I get for Cisco?
Here are two Cisco certifications to consider:
1. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
An entry-level Cisco credential, a CCNA demonstrates that you know how to install and configure networking hardware at the enterprise level. When you earn a CCNA, you learn how to set up network access and maintain secure settings. To get the certification, you have to pass an exam with up to 60 questions.
2. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Enterprise
Ideal for networking specialists, the CCNP Enterprise certification focuses on enterprise infrastructure and systems architecture. To get this credential, you have to pass one exam covering enterprise solutions and another on your choice of specialty topics. After earning this credential, you can consider pursuing a more advanced certification, such as CCIE Enterprise Infrastructure or CCIE Enterprise Wireless.
Related: Learn About Being an IT Specialist
Which IT certification should I get for Citrix?
Here are two Citrix certifications that you may want to prioritize earning:
1. Citrix Certified Associate - Networking (CCA-N)
A CCA-N certification can help you prepare for an entry-level IT position. This credential covers topics like NetScaler management, XenDesktop integration and XenApp troubleshooting. To get this certification, you have to pass one of two test options.
2. Citrix Certified Professional - Virtualization (CCP-V)
To prepare for a mid-level or senior IT role, you may need to earn the CCP-V credential. Designed for experienced IT professionals, this certification covers installation and configuration of XenDesktop solutions. To get this credential, you have to earn a CCA-N certification and pass an exam.
Related: Learn About Being an IT Manager
What IT certifications should I get for Microsoft?
Here are four Microsoft credentials to pursue:
1. Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate
Ideal for entry-level IT professionals, this Microsoft credential is designed for systems administrators and help desk technicians. As you pursue this certification, you can become an expert at installing and maintaining Windows operating systems and managing connected devices and their data. To become a Modern Desktop Administrator Associate, you have to pass two exams.
2. Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals
Earning Microsoft's Azure Fundamentals credential is a popular first step for many IT professionals who handle technology purchasing and acquisition. By pursuing this certification, you can learn about cloud computing and security and privacy issues related to Azure. To get this credential, you have to pass one exam.
3. Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate
Although some IT experts earn the Azure Fundamentals credential first, you can get an Azure Administrator Associate certification without that prerequisite. However, you do have to pass an exam to demonstrate your expertise with cloud-based storage and networking. Some IT professionals go on to earn even more advanced credentials, such as the Microsoft Certified Azure Developer Associate or Microsoft Certified Azure DevOps Engineer Expert certification.
4. Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)
As one of Microsoft's mid-level credentials, the MSCE is a standard requirement for systems administrators and engineers. It includes specialty options ranging from desktop and server infrastructure to business intelligence and private cloud security. To earn this credential, you have to undergo a five-step process that includes choosing a path, completing required courses and passing an exam.
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