Written by: Randall Lewis, Instructor, Information Technology (IT) Department
IT Certifications: Why They Matter, Which Ones to Pursue, and Where to Start
Laurus College places great emphasis on its students earning Information Technology (IT) certifications.
An IT certificate is “a designation demonstrating a professional’s competency in a certain aspect of technology. Certifications often follow some assessment, education or review” (Techopedia, n.d.). In short, you take some type of exam(s) — typically in a proctored environment and with a time limit — on a particular subject matter. If you pass the exam(s), you earn that certification. That certification is reliable proof that you possess some particular skill set and knowledge.
Next, let’s look at some reasons why we strongly encourage our students to pursue certification.
- Professional opportunities: Certifications demonstrate to a potential employer (who may not know anything about you) that you possess the knowledge and skills to do the job. As John Reiling (n.d.) wrote, “When employers are interviewing, the competition is often stiff. If you have the certification, and the other person does not, you are at a definite advantage.”
- Employer confidence/placement: Certifications make it easy for an employer to match your skills to their job requirements and gives the employer the confidence that you possess the correct skills for that job.
- Credibility: Certifications clearly demonstrate the integrity and reliability of your knowledge and skills. You have proven your competence in a pressured environment.
- Professional growth: Employers want employees who engage in lifelong learning. Certifications demonstrate that your knowledge and skills are keeping pace with the rapid development and high-speed change in the IT field. “Employers are always looking for people who never want to stop learning” (Reiling, n.d.).
- Career advancement/higher salary: There is a direct link between certifications earned and annual salary. Certified individuals, on average, earn higher salaries and are offered increased opportunities for career advancement. “Often, earning a certification … can quickly lead to compensation increases of 20% and more” (Reiling, n.d.). Recruitment firm Robert Half (2018) had this to say: “IT certifications can be a crucial steppingstone toward landing a great job in the tech sector, and help you increase your expected starting salary.”
There are numerous other reasons why Laurus College strongly advocates its student to pursue as many certifications as possible. Do you really need more reasons?
As proof of our commitment to certifications, the IT department is wrapping up the process of updating all classes and curriculum to reflect the changes made to the newest version of CompTIA’s A+ certification exams (the 220-1001 and 220-1002) and to reflect the newest version of CompTIA’s IT Fundamentals certification (the FCO-U61). In this way, we ensure that your education is as current as possible and best prepares you for certification exams and IT employment.
Now that you understand why you should pursue certification, let’s look at some of the more valuable IT certifications that you should consider pursuing.
Brief List of Important IT Certifications
There are many IT certifications available out there — too many to count, and an IT certification is not always a valuable IT certification — so let’s briefly review some of the better-known and more valuable ones, categorized by vendor.
- A+ The “preferred qualifying credential for technical support and IT operational roles” (CompTIA, n.d.). Essentially, an entry-level certification, as Hoffman (n.d.) wrote: “Among the certifications available for computer professionals, A+ is probably the one cited most often as a starting point for careers in information technology.”
- Network+ A more advanced certification than the A+, this prepares you to design, implement, and maintain functional computer networks. This “certification provides you with the education to begin a career in network administration” (Cybrary, n.d.).
- Security+ An advanced certification that validates the baseline skills needed to perform core security and cybersecurity functions. This certification “demonstrates competency in network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, application, data, and host security, access control and identity management, and cryptography” (Global Knowledge, n.d.).
- Cloud+ An advanced certification that demonstrates the skills needed to maintain and optimize cloud infrastructure services. This certificate demonstrates “that the individual understands the application of different strategies depending on the situation, the aspects of IT security in the cloud, and the best practices to implement in the cloud” (Simplilearn, n.d.).
From Cisco Systems:
- CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate is an intermediate certification that prepares you for a career as a network engineer. This certification demonstrates your skills in network fundamentals, LAN switching technologies, IPv4 and IPv6 routing technologies, WAN technologies, infrastructure services, infrastructure security, and infrastructure management/maintenance.
- CCNP: Cisco Certified Network Professional offers a range of more advanced certifications. These certifications demonstrate the certification holder’s ability to work independently on complex physical and virtual network solutions.
- CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker certification enables you to understand and to look for vulnerabilities in target systems and use the same knowledge and tools as a malicious hacker — but in a lawful and legitimate manner to assess the security posture of a target system. Ethical hacking is also known as white hat hacking.
Want to Know More?
All Laurus College IT instructors hold certifications and are happy to answer any questions you may have about IT, our program, and the different certification paths for the different career paths.
We want to see every student make the positive and permanent change to their life circumstances that an IT education offers.
So, why are you still sitting there? Come get certified with Laurus College!!
CompTIA. (n.d.). CompTIA A+ 2019. Retrieved August 1, 2019 from https://certification.comptia.org/certifications/a
Cybrary. (n.d.). CompTIA Network+. Retrieved August 1, 2019, from
Knowledge, G. (n.d.). Security+. Retrieved August 1, 2019 from https://www.globalknowledge.com/us-en/training/certification-prep/topics/cybersecurity/section/comptia/securityplus/
Half, R. (2018, October 18). 10 Highest-Paying IT Certification for Tech Pros. Retrieved August 1, 2019, from https://www.roberthalf.com/blog/salaries-and-skills/10-highest-paying-it-certifications-for-tech-pros
Hoffman, A. (n.d.). A+ Certification. Retrieved August 1, 2019, from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/a-certification
Reiling, J. (n.d.). Top 10 Benefits to Earning a Certification. Retrieved August 1, 2019, from https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/top-10-benefits-to-earning-a-certification.php
Simplilearn. (n.d.). CompTIA Cloud+ Certification Training. Retrieved August 2, 2019, from https://www.simplilearn.com/cloud-computing/comptia-cloud-plus?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=&utm_content=355146400001&utm_device=c&utm_campaign=Search-DSA-Generic-US-adgroup-Cloud-Others&mkwid=s%7Cpcrid%7C355146400001%7Cpkw%7C%7Cpmt%7Cb%7Cpdv%7Cc%7Cslid%7C%7Cpgrid%7C72538380620%7Cptaid%7Cdsa-711627896531%7C&gclid=Cj0KCQjwvo_qBRDQARIsAE-bsH_fHRFbEgo2iW9XU57ENsHi9vVsh3Ikrx0pWNAD3ktY86mxGWPTVSMaAk9MEALw_wcB
Techopedia. (n.d.). IT Certification. Retrieved August 1, 2019, from https://www.techopedia.com/definition/2482/it-certification