You are in the midst of your IT career and things are going well. But is there an opportunity for you to know more, be more marketable, or just be better in your role? If so, a certificate may be the right option for you. Knowing which one, when you should go for it and why are important before you start the process. With that in mind, here are some things to consider as you investigate your IT certification options.
If you have only been at one or two companies so far in your career and have only seen the technology implemented a certain way for those environments, a certification can give you helpful, more formal training. Through it, you can better understand the various ways the technology could be implemented for different environments. For example, maybe in your current role, you are only using a very small part of the technology and there is a world of other functionality that you just haven’t been able to use. By going for a certification, you can dive deeper and those skills can help at your current job, or make you more marketable in a new role.
Taking the initiative to further your education around a specific technology shows you are serious about your craft and want to formalize your experience and knowledge base. It also speaks to your drive, ambition and even your curiosity. Employers – both current and future – will appreciate the intention behind your desire to get certified.
Depending on where you are within IT, there are certificates that are better suited for your current and future career goals. If you are a Project Manager, pursuing a PMP certification is worthwhile. If you are a CISCO Network engineer, then the CISCO certifications would make sense – things like CCNA, CCNP, CCIE to name a few. A DevOps/Cloud Engineer in an AWS environment could look at AWS certificates. If you are in the security space, research CISSP, CISM and CEH certifications. These are just a few examples of the certificate options available.
Although certifications make sense in many scenarios, we don’t recommend obtaining one in an area where you have no experience. Oftentimes, IT pros will consider a specific certification (without prior experience with it) in hopes of landing a job that requires the skill set. While certifications are a nice way to round out your professional experience and can make you more marketable in your space, if you are seeking a certification on its own with no professional experience, it does not make you more marketable in that area. Hiring managers want to know you’ve done real work with the technology.
Ultimately, it comes down to doing your homework. Be sure to ask IT friends and colleagues which programs they like and why. This could help you narrow your decision. Know what you are interested in, investigate your options and dive into a certificate program in an area where you have professional experience.
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