9 Best Credentials to Start Your IT Journey
IT is one of the fast growing and well-paying fields. As a result, the field always has open job opportunities. Therefore, when you start a career in IT, you are assured of employment opportunities due to the high demand for IT specialists. It can be a good career choice, especially if you have a passion for Information Technology. What’s more, according to the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report, the earnings of a certified IT specialist is on the higher side by $8,400 than a non-certified IT professional.
The best of all is that you can start your IT career by getting a certification, which can take a shorter duration than a college degree. This credential will make you more marketable, show you have the required skills, and help you with your professional development.
Here are the IT certifications that can help you to jump-start your IT career. If you are new to IT, it would be best to start with foundational certifications. Remember to choose the certificate that is related to your career path.
CompTIA IT Fundamentals
The IT Fundamentals certification is one of the basic credentials by CompTIA, which provides vendor-neutral certificates. This certification will help you learn the basic hardware components and their function. It is ideal for beginners who have no prior background in IT and it is for an entry-level position in IT. It covers all areas in the foundation in IT and it helps the candidates know if Information Technology is their right career choice.
To get the IT Fundamentals certificate, one must pass the FC0-U51 exam.
Job titles: Entry-level IT specialists and Helpdesk specialists.
MTA – Microsoft Technology Associate
The MTA credential is a foundation certification that helps in understanding IT fundamentals. One also gets practical knowledge on the use of Microsoft Technologies in solving business challenges. It is for those who would like to take a career path in supporting and developing Microsoft products.
There are three different tracks that one can follow to gain the MTA credential depending on one’s career paths. They are:
MTA database track – for those interested in business intelligence and data platform administration.
MTA IT infrastructure track – for candidates, whose career path is in private cloud computing or server or desktop infrastructure.
MTA development track – for those, whose career path is in software development.
However, getting the MTA certification does not qualify you for advanced level certificates, such as MCSA, MCSE, and MCSD. It is an independent fundamentals course. Those with advanced skill level should opt for the MCSA certification instead. To obtain the MTA credential, one must pass an exam in either of the tracks.
Job titles: IT security specialists, Systems analysts, Network administrators, Database administrators, and Website developers.
CompTIA A+ is a certification covering the fundamentals that one requires to become a support professional or a computer technician. The certificate validates one’s skills in network technologies, installation and configuration, management and security, as well as media and topologies. These are in mediums, such as mobiles, laptops, printers, and PCs.
The CompTIA A+ credential teaches the comprehensive skills and therefore it is essential for anyone who wants to start his/her career in IT. There are no prior requirements to take the course and you get the certification after completing the CompTIA 220-901 and 220-902 exams.
Most corporations, including Lenovo, Intel, and Dell, require their service technicians to have this A+ certification.
After obtaining of this certificate, you can also acquire further qualifications such as CompTIA Network + or CompTIA Security +. Therefore, it serves as a stepping stone to a career in IT with more growth opportunities.
You need not have prior qualifications to sit for the exams, but it is advisable to have experience of 6 to 12 months before sitting for the certification tests.
Job titles: Computer technicians, Helpdesk technicians, Desktop support technicians, and In-home support specialists.
The CompTIA Network+ certification is for those who want further qualifications in networking. Holding this certificate means that one has the skills and knowledge required to design, troubleshoot, configure, and operate diverse wired and wireless networks on numerous platforms. It validates skills in installation and configuration, network technologies, management and security, media, and topologies. The candidates are also trained to work with numerous software and hardware.
This certification is not recommended for beginners but for those who have a prior credential in CompTIA A+ and networking experience of at least 9 months.
To receive Network+ certification, you must pass one 90-question exam (N10-007) on how to configure wireless and wired network devices and on other emerging technologies.
Job Titles: Network installers, Information technology technicians, Network technicians, IT cable installers, Network administrators, Helpdesk technicians, and Information technology specialists.
CCNA – Cisco Certified Network Associate
Cisco leads in Routing and Switching with its global enterprise market share ranging from 65-70%. Most of the Internet traffic travels on Cisco-built networks.
The Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching credential is an entry-level certification for network engineers in routing and switching. The certificate gives the candidate foundational knowledge and demonstrates his or her competence as a network support associate. The CCNA R&S validates one’s ability to plan, install, configure, troubleshoot, and operate Cisco’s routers and switches. One has the option to specialize in wireless networking, voice or security.
You do not require any prior qualification to acquire this Cisco certification. It is a good entry-level credential for those who would like to take the career in networking. To acquire the certification, you must pass a written 90-minute exam comprising of 60 to 70 questions. You are also required to have previous experience in networking.
While the CCNA Routing and Switching certificate is the most popular one, an individual can get it in other areas, such as Security, Industrial, Cloud, Cyber Ops, etc.
Job titles: Network administrators, Network engineers, and Systems administrators.
CCT – Cisco Certified Technician
The Cisco Certified Technician certification equips one with skills to diagnose, restore, replace, and repair Cisco networking and system devices at the customers’ sites. Those who are certified play the support role and they work in close collaboration with the Cisco Technical Assistance Centre so that they can resolve support incidents efficiently and effectively.
One does not require any prior qualification to get this certification. You can take the certification in different technology tracks therefore you can expand your area of expertise.
To get the CCT Data Centre credential, most often candidates take the 010-151 DCTECH exam. To obtain the CCT Routing and Switching certification, the students take the 640-692 RSTECH test. Both tests contain 60-75 questions and should be completed in 90 minutes.
Job titles: IT technicians.
CCENT – Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician
The CCENT credential is an entry-level certification for network support professional for Cisco’s hardware and software. It equips one with the skills in installation, troubleshooting, and operation of network devices. You can use the certificate to advance to higher level certifications such as CCNA.
To get the CCENT certification, you must pass a 45-55 questions exam that takes 90 minutes to complete.
Job titles: Network engineers, Systems administrators, Network technicians, IT specialists, and Network administrators.
CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker
The Certified Ethical Hacker is a certification by EC-Council that is meant to teach IT professionals hacking techniques and how to use hacking tools.
The credential validates skills in scanning, testing, and hacking systems. The certification holder can spot vulnerabilities in the networks of a business and then patch them up by using the perspective of an attacker. The CEH is suitable for those with other entry-level certifications, such as CCNA, CompTIA Network+, and who want to have experience in IT security. It is also suitable for those who would like a career in penetration testing. After obtaining of CEH certificate, one can advance by taking the ECSA certification.
To get this EC-Council certification, one learns how to identify common attach methods, perform privilege escalation attacks, and exploit codes. You need to pass a computer-based exam of 125 multiple-choice questions that should take a maximum of 4 hours.
Job titles: Information security analysts, Penetration testers, and Security engineers.
CompTIA Security +
The CompTIA Security + certification is suitable for those who want to pursue a career in IT security. It imparts knowledge in the procedure for responding to security occurrences, cryptography, threats and vulnerabilities, compliance and operational security, as well as access control and tools.
The Security+ credential should come next after CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA A+. The certificate is a requirement for those who are interested in cyber security roles.
To get this CompTIA certification, you need to have at least 2 years experience in networking and IT administration. You also need to pass a 90-minute exam comprising of 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions.
Job titles: Network engineers, Information technology managers, System administrators, IT specialists, and Information security analysts.
It is no doubt that a career in IT is promising. This coupled with the ease of entry through certification makes it one of the best career choices. You just need to take the certificate of your choice and change your future for the better.
You do not have to wait any longer. Get the certification and be on your way to a successful IT career.