As a hiring manager for IT professionals, and a manager of IT instructors, I get an opportunity to see the choices individuals make when it comes to the certifications they pursue. Some certifications are highly impactful and help solidify the skills and work experience of an individual. Others put the individual out on a limb, with little work experience to support their constellation of certifications.
When considering certifications, you should evaluate them based on the following criteria:
- Am I learning skills that can positively impact my current job performance?
- Am I obtaining a certification that codifies the skills I currently have?
- Am I obtaining a certification that aligns with a job role proximate to the job I currently possess?
- Am I obtaining a certification valued for the position I hold or am in pursuit of?
There are countless IT certifications available to consider in the world today. I’d argue that there are always a few that make sense, regardless of where an individual currently stands. There are a few certification paths that you should consider as an opportunity cost when choosing a certification. Does this certification have a greater impact than these others? If so, chances are you are making a good choice. If not, you should reconsider. I’ll provide a listing and a brief description of certifications that you should always consider. Quite simply, these certifications have core knowledge and are perennial winners in the IT space.
- Cisco CCNA: IT people need to know networking. This class is impactful regardless of if you touch Cisco gear.
- AWS System Operations: AWS is so important these days. It is a good idea to know how to get around in AWS and make use of their services.
- AZ-900 (and AZ-104): Similar to AWS SO, these cover core Azure services and how to work with Microsoft’s cloud product.
- MD-100 and MD-101: These classes now actually cover both server and desktop administration in a Microsoft environment.
Common red herrings: Do these only if they 100% make sense.
- CompTIA Server+: This certification is only needed in a very narrow set of job roles.
- EC-Council CEH: Everyone wants to rule the world according to Tears for Fears. And everyone wants to be an Ethical Hacker.
- CISSP: So many people think they can just take a test and get their CISSP. You need to have been a cybersec professional with 5 years in that job capacity.
- CompTIA Security+: This is a fantastic cert for people who have the right skills for their job, and now need to get that solid foundation in security.
- VMware VCP: There’s nothing like really understanding how to use virtualization.
- CompTIA A+: If you work with computer hardware, this is an awesome cert. Good real-world knowledge is taught in this class.
- CompTIA Network+: I favor CCNA over this cert. But if you don’t have CCNA or Network+, you may not have the network chops for your job role, regardless of what it is.
Best of luck in your pursuits! Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. We love helping people with their career pathing.