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IT Certifications Comparison

The sheer number of IT certifications available can pose a series of confusing, time-consuming, and potentially expensive decisions. Unfortunately, the first steps towards success in the technology industry are 1) evaluating your options and 2) determining which certification is right for you. IT, like any other field, offers a wide range of positions that vary in requirements, prerequisites, and duties. Before delving into the vast, confusing world of certifications, you should determine which areas of IT interest you the most. To do so, you should talk to people in the field and ask them what their jobs entail. Are the responsibilities that they tackle on a daily basis of interest to you? Do you see yourself as a programmer, web developer, network designer, or something else? These are all aspects of the IT world that you will need to consider before deciding upon the appropriate certification.

Certifications exist as a means of measuring your understanding of a product or technology. Companies like Microsoft, Cisco, and Novell all offer education and certifications for their products, and, by doing so, are guaranteeing themselves an educated workforce that can implement and support their technologies. Currently, most industry leaders offer multiple levels of certification on their products, which means that, whether you are just staring out in IT or have worked in the industry for years, there will always be more to learn.

Below is a breakdown of several industry position categories and which certifications are useful within them (keep in mind that many certifications will overlap into multiple categories).

Core IT Skills:
-these are some basic certifications that will help in nearly every area in the IT industry
A+, Network+, Security+, Linux+, MCP, CCNA, MOS (office)

Network Design & Administration:
-must be a problem solver and analytical thinker
-job includes building and maintaining servers, designing networks, and troubleshooting
Network+, Server+, MCSA, CAN, CNE, CCNA, A+, CCDA, CCNP

Programming/Software Engineering:
-must be a logical thinker, pay attention to detail, and be able to focus for long periods of time
-job includes gathering requirements, coding, and testing

Technical Support:
-must be a problem solver, patient, and have strong communication skills
-job includes talking user through problems
A+ (hardware), MOUS

Database Administration:
-must have organizational skills and a programming background
-job includes verifying backup operations, performance tuning, and database design

Web Development/Design:
-must possess a sense of aesthetics, rapid development/prototyping and programming skills
-job includes creation of prototypes, refinement of graphics, testing, problem solving
I-Net+, Certified Internet Webmaster Associate, Master Certified Internet Webmaster Designer, Master Certified Internet Webmaster Web Site Manager, ProSoft CIW, Adobe, Macromedia/Allaire, Java

These are only a few of the better-known jobs within the IT field. Although it may seem like a lot to consider, certification is certainly worthwhile. On average, certified individuals in the IT field can earn from 10 to 25% more in salary than their peers. Similarly, keeping up to date with new technologies and industry skills will ensure you remain marketable when it comes to open positions and advancement opportunities, especially when the economy is low.


Schools to consider: