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MCSE and Other Evergreen IT Certifications 2018

MCSE and Other Evergreen IT Certifications 2018
Credit: GaudiLab/Shutterstock

When it comes to IT certifications, one group keeps coming to the forefront. If you look at various IT certification salary surveys or reports on the most sought-after IT certifications, you'll see certain names or acronyms popping up again and again. Here's an updated list of the best evergreen IT certifications for 2018.

This guide presents some of the top IT certifications for 2018, based on recent pay surveys in IT, reports from IT professionals about certifications they want or pursue the most, and those that pop up most frequently in online job postings. For the record "evergreen" is a publishing industry term for a title that keeps on selling year after year. The certifications in this collection all show noteworthy longevity in terms of desirability and popularity, and often in associated remuneration.

We take a closer look at some of the top IT evergreen certifications for 2018, including the CCIE, CCNA, CISSP, PMP, ITIL and MCSE. We'll also review other evergreen IT certifications, including the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) certifications and the CompTIA "Holy Trinity," namely the A+, Network+ and Security+ certifications.

Note: All these certifications are quite different, and they range from entry to senior level in terms of the knowledge, skills and experience required to earn them. We present them here in no particular order.

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) remains one of the most coveted networking certifications available. Internationally recognized, the CCIE is an expert-level credential achievable by only the most skilled, technically proficient and experienced IT networking professionals. All roads in the Cisco certification path lead to the CCIE, making it a career pinnacle and the culmination of years of hard work, training and experience. CCIE credential holders are recognized by peers and employers as experts in their respective networking fields. Such skilled professionals possess superior network engineering skills and can manage and operate large, complex networks, as well as develop creative solutions to complex networking problems across a broad range of circumstances and technologies.

There are six CCIE certification specializations available, each corresponding to a Cisco certification path:

In addition to a rigorous written exam, credential seekers must pass a strenuous lab exam. Labs are timed and designed to test technical skills such as problem determination and the ability to find solutions under stressful conditions. The CCIE lab exams have a well-deserved reputation of being difficult and demanding; many candidates must try two or more times to pass them. At $1,600 plus travel costs for each try, that's an expensive proposition.

In 2015, Cisco updated all its expert-level, written exams to include a new domain focused on new and emerging technologies. This new domain, aptly named Evolving Technologies, currently focuses on three areas: Cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and Network Programmability. (Focus areas may change as additional technologies are introduced and adopted.) The Evolving Technologies domain constitutes 10 percent of the total CCIE exam, so candidates should ensure that they select the correct study materials for their exams.

Obtaining the CCIE is time-intensive and requires commitment. IT professionals who like a marathon will find the rewards at the end of the journey — recognition, prestige and earning potential, to name a few — make the CCIE credential well worth the strenuous effort involved in earning one. A CCIE is a long-term career goal worth considering for IT professionals serious about their networking careers.

Required courses: None.

Required exams: Each CCIE certification path requires a written and lab exam. Written exam scores are valid for 18 months. Lab exams must be attempted within 18 months of the written exam. CCIE candidates may not schedule a lab exam until they receive a passing score on the written exam. Candidates must retake the written exam if they do not pass the lab exam within three years.


Required Exams


• CCCIE Collaboration Written Exam #400-051
• CCIE Collaboration Lab Exam

Data Center

• CCIE Data Center Written Exam #400-101
• CCIE Data Center Lab Exam

Routing and Switching

• CCIE Routing and Switching Written Exam #400-101
• CCIE Routing and Switching Lab Exam


• CCIE Security Written Exam #400-251
• CCIE Security Lab Exam

Service Provider

• CCIE SP Written Exam #400-201
• CCIE SP Lab Exam


• CCIE Wireless Written Exam #400-351
• CCIE Wireless Lab Exam

Exam costs: Written exams are $450. Lab exams are $1,600 per attempt (available only at specific Cisco sites worldwide). Pearson VUE is Cisco’s authorized test delivery partner.

Self-paced training: The Cisco Learning Network Store offers a variety of self-study, self-paced courses and labs. Additional resources, including reference and design guides, training opportunities, and self-study resources materials are available on individual exam pages.

Other learning opportunities: Study documents, recommended reading, test examples, training opportunities, online communities and study groups are available at the Cisco website.

Recertification: Certification is valid for 24 months. Credential holders may recertify by passing one of the following:

  • Any CCIE written or lab exam
  • Any CCDE written or practical exam, or the Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview and board review

For those pursuing a career working with Cisco routed and switched networks, the Cisco Certified Network Associate, or CCNA, is a must-have credential. The CCNA serves professionals with the technical skills to ensure that routers and network systems operate at the highest levels of quality and efficiency.

CCNA credential holders are leaders in performing essential tasks such as installation, configuration, operation, troubleshooting and problem analysis, connection verification to remote sites, security risk mitigation, and performance enhancement, just to name a few. Credential holders are familiar with technologies such as access control lists (ACLs), VLANS and various routing protocols.


IT professionals seeking to specialize in a particular area of midsize routed and switched networks will find the CCNA Routing and Switching certification particularly suited to their needs. Eight other CCNA concentrations are available (three of which require a valid CCENT or CCNA Routing and Switching as a prerequisite; see prerequisites table below for more details):

  • CCNA Cloud — Technical skills include provisioning and management of cloud environments with cloud administration and reporting. Candidates should possess a basic understanding of cloud infrastructure and the skills necessary to manage infrastructure as a service (IaaS) deployments.
  • CCNA Collaboration — Focus is on collaboration and video skills, including integration with mobile applications and data, video and voice.
  • CCNA Cyber Ops — Focus is on detecting cybersecurity breaches and responding effectively to cybersecurity incidents (typically in the context of a security operations center).
  • CCNA Data Center — Credential holders are ready to work in data centers to support, maintain and manage data center networks and services.
  • CCNA Industrial — Credential targets professionals in the industrial roles (process control or manufacturing) where IT and industrial networks converge.
  • CCNA Security — Technical skills include the ability to develop security infrastructures, identify and mitigate security risks, and maintain integrity and availability of the network and network devices.
  • CCNA Service Provider — CCNA SP holders act as Tier 1 support engineers in a troubleshooting role within carrier-class NGN core network infrastructures, including incident handling, plus fault, configuration, change and performance management procedures, in an environment where network management systems (NMS) and ticketing tools are in everyday use.
  • CCNA Wireless — Credential holders support and manage WLAN systems.

Required courses: None; however, some CCNA specializations have prerequisites, as listed below.



CCNA Cloud


CCNA Collaboration


CCNA Cyber Ops


CCNA Data Center


CCNA Industrial

Must complete the Industrial Networking Specialist exam, or possess a valid CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching, or any CCIE certification

CCNA Routing and Switching


CCNA Security

Must possess a valid CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching, or any CCIE certification



CCNA Wireless

Must possess a valid CCENT, CCNA Routing and Switching, or any CCIE certification

 Required exams: Each CCNA specialization has a different exam requirement, as listed below.


Required Exams

CCNA Cloud

• Understanding Cisco Cloud Fundamentals (CLDFND): 210-451
• Introducing Cisco Cloud Administration (CLDADM): 210-455

CCNA Collaboration

• Implementing Cisco Collaboration Devices (CICD): 210-060
• Implementing Cisco Video Networking Devices (CIVND): 210-065

CCNA Cyber Ops

• Understanding Cisco Cybersecurity Fundamentals (SECFND): 210-250
• Implementing Cisco Cybersecurity Operations (SECOPS): 210-255

CCNA Data Center

• Introducing Cisco Data Center Networking (DCICN): 200-150
• Introducing Cisco Data Center Technologies (DCICT): 200-155

CCNA Industrial

• Managing Industrial Networking for Manufacturing with Cisco Technologies (IMINS2): 200-601

CCNA Routing and Switching

• Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices: Accelerated (CCNAX); 200-125
• Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1): 100-105
• Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 2 (ICND2): 200-105

CCNA Security

• Implementing Cisco Network Security (IINS): 210-260


• Building Cisco Server Provider Next-Generation Networks, Pt 1 (SPNGN1): 640-875 
• Building Cisco Server Provider Next-Generation Networks, Pt 2 (SPNGN2): 640-878 

CCNA Wireless

• Implementing Cisco Wireless Network Fundamentals (WIFUND): 200-355

Exam costs: All CCNA exams listed above are $300 except for 200-125, which is $325, and the ICND1 and ICND2 exams at $165 each. Pearson VUE is the authorized Cisco test delivery partner.

CCNA books:

CCNA practice exams: Candidates may purchase the Cisco Practice Tests by MeasureUp: CCNA Routing and Switching (200-125) (30-day key) for $139. The Cisco Learning Network Store offers fee-based learning labs.

Self-paced training: The Cisco Learning Network Store offers a variety of self-study, self-paced courses and labs.

Recertification: The CCNA credential is valid for three years. Candidates must pass one of the following to recertify:

  • Any current associate-level exam (except for ICNDI1)
  • Any current 642-XXX or 300-XXX professional-level exam
  • Any current 642-XXX or 200-XXX Cisco Specialist exam (some exclusions apply)
  • Any current CCIE written exam
  • The current CCDE written or practical exam
  • The Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) interview and board review

Hackers and other unscrupulous persons will always find new and innovative ways to violate and break through network security perimeters. The need for qualified information security professionals has never been greater. For those professionals, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP, is one of the premier and highest-value certifications available.

Developed by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)2 (pronounced "ISC squared"), the CISSP credential is not only recognized globally, but was the first certification of its kind to be accredited by the American National Standards Institute to comply with ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 17024. Recognized for their excellence, CISSP credential holders possess advanced skills necessary to develop policies, create standards and implement protective procedures to safeguard information.

Credential seekers are required to possess a minimum of five years of experience, all of which must be in at least two information security domains specified by (ISC)2. Candidates with a four-year college degree or equivalent, or an approved credential, may request a waiver of one year of experience. These are the eight CISSP security domains:

  • Security and Risk Management
  • Asset Security
  • Security Engineering
  • Communications and Network Security
  • Identity and Access Management
  • Security Assessment and Testing
  • Security Operations
  • Software Development Security

After completing the CISSP, credential holders can choose to pursue additional certifications in Architecture (CISSP-ISSAP), Engineering (CISSP-ISSEP) or Management (CISSP-ISSMP). The CISSP is not a lifetime certification; credential holders are required to pay annual maintenance fees and continue their professional development and training. Despite the cost of ongoing maintenance, IT pros will find the CISSP well worth the effort.

Required courses: None.

Required exams: One exam.

Exam costs: Standard registration is $699. Additional exams for each CISSP concentration area (CISSP-ISSAP, CISSP-ISSEP and CISSP-ISSMP) are $599 each. See examination pricing document for costs in other countries.

CISSP books:
CISSP (ISC)2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional Official Study Guide, 7th edition, by James M. Stewart, Mike Chapple and Darril Gibson (Sept. 15, 2015). ISBN-10: 1119042712, ISBN-13: 978-1119042716
Official (ISC)2 Guide to the CISSP CBK, 4th edition ISC)2 Press), by Adam Gordon (Mar. 11, 2015). Auerbach Publications. Sybex ISBN-10: 1482262754, ISBN-13: 978-1482262759

CISSP training: (ISC)² offers multiple training opportunities, including review seminars, live online classes, e-learning and textbooks. For more information, visit https://www.isc2.org/Training.

Practice exams: Practice exams are available on Amazon.com.

Recertification: The CISSP certification is valid for three years. Credential holders are required to earn a minimum of 40 continuing professional education (CPE) credits each year (total of 120 CPEs in the three-year certification cycle) to maintain the credential. An annual maintenance fee of $85 is required.

Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is highly sought after by those responsible for converting IT project plans and strategies into action. The PMP credential is coveted by employers seeking the most skilled project management professionals.

Developed by project managers, the PMP certification is the highest credential PMI offers. This credential ensures that credential holders possess the skills and qualifications necessary to successfully manage all phases of a project, including initiating, planning and budgeting, scheduling, controlling, monitoring, and closing the project. PMP-certified project managers are also well versed and skilled in managing all aspects of the triple constraints — time, cost and scope. Employers depend on PMP professionals to manage budgets, track costs, manage scope creep and identify how changes to the triple constraints may introduce risk into the project and minimize such risk.

In addition to passing a comprehensive and exhaustive exam, credential holders must demonstrate and certify that they possess the skills and education necessary to succeed in the project management field. Credential seekers should be prepared to provide documentation regarding such items as education, projects worked on and hours spent in each of the five project management disciplines.

PMI rolled out a new exam in January 2016. The project management domain areas (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing) remain the same, but eight new tasks were added. Candidates preparing for the exam should check the Exam Content Outline to understand and prepare to respond to the new tasks.

While it's a difficult certification to achieve, the rewards for PMP credential holders can be significant. According to the latest (2015) PMI Salary Survey, PMPs globally earn an average of 20 percent more than their non-credentialed counterparts, with median annual earnings of $81,000. Our own most recent analysis of PMP pay shows that this number is now on the low side, and Global Knowledge reports its average U.S. PMP pay at just under $120,000 for 2017.

Those interested in the field of project management who do not yet possess the required combination of skill and education to qualify for the PMP credential may consider the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification. An entry-level project management credential, the CAPM is designed for those who are new to the project management profession but are still determining whether project management is their long-term career path.

PMI offers additional project management-related certifications, including program and portfolio management, risk analysis credentials, and specialty certifications for Agile practitioners. Those interested in expanding their project management careers would do well to check out other credentials in the PMI portfolio, which include the following:  

Required courses and prerequisites: There are no required courses. Candidates must possess one of the following combinations of education and experience to qualify:

  • Secondary degree (high school diploma plus associate's degree or global equivalent), 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects, plus 35 hours of project management
  • Four-year degree, 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects, plus 35 hours of project management education

Required exams: One.

Exam costs: Computer-based exams are $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-PMI members. Retakes are $275 and $375, respectively. Credential seekers must obtain an eligibility ID from PMI prior to registering for the exam. To obtain an ID, candidates must submit an application that demonstrates they meet the prerequisite combination of education and experience. All PMI exams are administered by Prometric.

Recertification: The PMP credential is valid for three years. Candidates must obtain 60 professional development units (PDUs) in each three-year cycle to maintain the credential.

PMP books:

PMP practice exams:

  • PMP Exam: Practice Test and Study Guide, 10th edition (ESI International Project Management), by J. LeRoy Ward and Ginger Levin (Sept. 17, 2015). Auerbach Publications. ISBN-10: 1498752829, ISBN13: 978-14987528247.

IT professionals seeking recognition of proficiency in the realm of Microsoft technologies will almost certainly want to consider the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) credential. MCSE credential holders are recognized for possessing the technical skills, expertise and knowledge necessary to perform complex roles using Microsoft technologies. Employers depend on MCSE professionals to solve difficult problems requiring innovative resolutions, design systems and complex solutions, build and deploy, and operate, maintain and optimize Microsoft-based systems.

The MCSE comes in various flavors, designed to meet the demanding requirements facing advanced Microsoft professionals in today's ever-changing technology environment. In September 2016, Microsoft introduced an entirely new collection of credentials, and retired its former slate of MCSE credentials in March 2017. The latest credentials appear in the following list.

Current MCSE certification paths:

An advanced credential, the MCSE builds on foundational skills developed at the MCSA certification level. In addition to earning a preliminary MCSA (which takes two or three exams depending on subject matter), credential seekers must pass only one exam relating to their area of expertise and focus to advance to the MCSE from the MCSA. Links in the preceding list also lead to applicable prerequisite MCSA requirements for each MCSE (for example, the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure takes a variety of MCSAs as prerequisite, including the MCSA: Windows Server 2016).

The MCSE offers credential holders numerous benefits, including recognition from peers, establishment as an expert in Microsoft technologies, and prestige and validation of technical skills. Plus, the MCSE (and the MCSA) credentials have real-life benefits in terms of earning potential and access to new jobs or promotions.

The latest generation of MCSE credentials does not expire. But each credential is tied to a specific platform or version, so an outdated MCSE will make itself obvious in any certification portfolio. Microsoft encourages MCSAs and MCSEs to keep their credentials current by taking at least one new or relevant exam every year. That's also why MCSE and MCSA cert holders need to check in on exam offerings and prerequisites yearly.

Required courses: Prior courses are not generally required, but a current MCSA is. The MCSE requirements list all necessary exams, along with prerequisite MCSA credentials (of which any one will suffice).

Required exams: All current MCSEs require candidates to pass three or four exams, depending on the concentration area, as some MCSA certifications require three exams, while others require only two.


Prerequisites & Required Exams

MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure

MCSA: Windows Server 2016 or 2012, Cloud Platform, or Linux on Azure
Take any one of the following exams:
• 70-532: Developing Microsoft Azure Solutions
• 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions
• 70-534: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
• 70-535: Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions
• 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
• 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics solutions
• 70-744: Securing Windows Server 2016
• 70-745: Implementing a Software-Defined Datacenter
• 70-413: Designing and Implementing a Server Infrastructure
• 70-414: Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure
• 70-246: Monitoring and Operating a Private Cloud
• 70-247: Configuring and Deploying a Private Cloud
• 70-537: Configuring & Operating a Hybrid Cloud with Microsoft Azure Stack*
• 70-538: Implementing Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions*
• 70-539: Managing Linux Workloads on Azure*
* Labeled as “coming soon” on MCSE page as of Dec. 6, 2017

MCSE: Mobility

MCSA: Windows 10

Take any one of the following exams:
• 70-695: Deploying Windows Desktops and Enterprise Applications
• 70-696: Administering System Center Configuration Manager and Intune
• 70-398: Planning for and Managing Devices in the Enterprise

MCSE: Data Management and Analytics

MCSA: SQL Server 2012/2014, SQL 2016 Database Administration, SQL 2016 Database Development, BI Development, Machine Learning, BI Reporting or Data Engineering with Azure
Take any one of the following exams:
• 70-473: Designing and Implementing Cloud Data Platform Solutions
• 70-475: Designing and Implementing Big Data Analytics Solutions
• 70-464: Developing Microsoft SQL Server Database
• 70-465: Designing Database Solutions for Microsoft SQL Server
• 70-466: Implementing Data Models and Reports with Microsoft SQL Server
• 70-467: Designing Business Intelligence Solutions with Microsoft SQL Server
• 70-762: Developing SQL Databases
• 70-767: Implementing a Data Warehouse Using SQL
• 70-768: Developing SQL Data Models
• 70-773: Analyzing Big Data with Microsoft R
• 70-774: Perform Cloud Data Science with Azure Machine Learning
• 70-775: Perform Data Engineering on Microsoft Azure HDInsight

MCSE: Productivity

MCSA: Office 365, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2016
Take any one of the following exams:
• 70-345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
• 70-339: Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016
• 70-333: Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015
• 70-334: Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015
• 70-331: Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
• 70-332: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
• 70-341: Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
• 70-342: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013

MCSE: Business Applications

MCSA: Office 365, Windows Server 2012, or Windows Server 2016
Take any one of the following exams:
• 70-345: Designing and Deploying Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
• 70-339: Managing Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016
• 70-333: Deploying Enterprise Voice with Skype for Business 2015
• 70-334: Core Solutions of Microsoft Skype for Business 2015
• 70-331: Core Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
• 70-332: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013
• 70-341: Core Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
• 70-342: Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013

Exam costs: Microsoft exams typically cost $165. Prices may vary based on the specific geography, and taxes may apply in some instances.

MCSE study materials: Microsoft Learning has numerous resources available by specialization area, including books, exams, online courses and classroom training. For more information on self-study, visit Microsoft Learning.

For many IT professionals, the ITIL Service Management Foundation Certification represents the holy grail for those interested in best practices. ITIL is much more than a certification; it's a philosophy designed to increase reliability and produce the highest-quality IT products and services through use of organizational best practices and proven processes.

ITIL practices meet quality standards set by ISO/IEC 20000 (the IT Service Management Code of Practice). As business and organizations become increasingly dependent on technology, the requirement for IT professionals who possess a superior understanding of ITIL management philosophies and processes continues to increase.

ITIL currently has five certification tiers:

  • ITIL Foundation — Credential holders understand ITIL key processes, terminology, structure and concepts, as well as links between the lifecycle stages and how they enhance product quality. The Foundation certification fulfills prerequisites for the ITIL Intermediate level.
  • ITIL Practitioner — This qualification focuses on Continual Service Improvement (CSI), including measurement and metrics, communication, and organizational change management.  
  • ITIL Intermediate — Two paths are available: Service Lifecycle (strategy, design, transition, operation, CSI) and Service Capability (planning, protection, optimization, service offerings and agreements, release, control and validation, and operational support and analysis). A candidate may create a combined qualification by choosing modules from both the Service Lifecycle and Service Capability paths. ITIL Intermediate credential holders possess an in-depth knowledge of processes, roles, best practices, management, activity control and execution.
  • ITIL Expert — Credential holders possess superior in-depth knowledge of ITIL processes and practices across the entire cross-spectrum of ITIL disciplines. Credential seekers must earn a total of 22 credits, which includes passing the Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) exams, to qualify for the Expert designation. Up to 17 of the credits may come from passing various Foundation and Intermediate modules.
  • ITIL Master — Credential holders possess superior knowledge and practical experience applying ITIL principles and processes across a broad set of ITIL disciplines including organizational and industry change, continual improvement and audit and certification preparation. They must be able to analyze and create solutions to complex issues. Master credential holders have achieved the Expert level and have at least five years of experience in IT service management. They also possess skills necessary to train other ITIL practitioners.

Modular in its structure, each ITIL tier builds upon skills obtained in preceding certification levels. Credential seekers earn credits at each level, which accumulate as they progress through ITIL’s tiers. While the numbers of credits required at each certification level remain constant, credential seekers can choose their paths from the various modules available. ITIL certifications, especially the Expert and Master qualifications, are time-consuming to obtain and require dedication and commitment. However, the rewards make ITIL certifications well worth the effort for IT professionals focused on best practices and continual quality improvement.

Required courses: Credential seekers need to review the individual ITIL qualification pages for complete certification details and prerequisites, as these vary depending on the individual ITIL qualification and the given certification's area of concentration. Training is recommended but not required for ITIL Foundation and ITIL Practitioner.



ITIL Foundation


ITIL Practitioner

ITIL Foundation certification

ITIL Intermediate

• ITIL Foundation certification
• Two years of experience working in IT service management recommended prior to attempting any ITIL Intermediate modules
• Training required for all modules

ITIL Expert

• ITIL Foundation certification or Bridge qualification equivalent
• Completion of the Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) module plus passing score on the associated MALC exam
• Minimum of 22 credits, 17 of which must be from the ITIL Foundation and ITIL Intermediate modules

ITIL Master

• ITIL Expert qualification
• Minimum of five years of experience in leadership, managerial or higher management advisory levels in an IT service management environment
• Application (including Proposal and Work Package) required along with an interview before an assessment panel

Required exams: ITIL Foundation, ITIL Practitioner and ITIL Expert credentials require one exam; ITIL Intermediate credential seekers can expect to take a minimum of four or five exams, depending on the path. No exams are required for the Master certification.


Required Exams

ITIL Foundation

ITIL Foundation exam

ITIL Practitioner

ITIL Practitioner exam

ITIL Intermediate – Service Lifecycle

Five exams:
• Service Strategy (SS)
• Service Design (SD)

• Service Transition (ST)

• Service Operation (SO)
• Continual Service Improvement (CSI)

ITIL Intermediate – Service Capability

Four exams

• Operational Support and Analysis (OSA)

• Planning Protection and Optimization (PPO)

• Release Control and Validation (RCV)

• Service Offerings and Agreements (SOA)

ITIL Expert

ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) exam

ITIL Master

None (board review occurs instead)

Exam costs: Prices for ITIL exams vary by provider and country. Thus, for example, Pearson VUE charges $250 for the ITIL Foundation exam, while PeopleCert (PC) charges $233. The ITIL Practitioner exam is $356 (PC), and the ITIL Intermediate module exams and the ITIL Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) exam are $330 (PC) each. However, candidates should check with training providers for these certifications for most current prices. See the ITIL FAQs for more info.

ITIL books: Official and other ITIL publications are available from the AXELOS store. Credential seekers must create a user profile to log in and access materials.

ITIL practice exams: Check with individual ITIL exam institutes for availability of practice exams.

Training: For available training, take a look at this list of Strategic Accredited Training Organizations, or use the AXELOS Search for Training tool.

Whether you're new to IT or an early-career professional, it's likely that the CompTIA Holy Trinity of vendor-neutral certifications — A+, Network+ and Security+ —  could become a valued part of your professional certification portfolio. Recognized internationally, these evergreen CompTIA certifications are considered must-haves by many IT professionals. All credentials are valid for three years, after which they must be renewed, unless they were earned before 2009 when those certs received ANSI/ISO/IEC accreditation (which requires recertification as a condition for qualification).

CompTIA A+: This is an entry-level credential for those interested in a career in IT. The credential is recognized by the U.S. Department of Defense and used by Canon, Dell, HP and Intel service technicians. Credential holders can maintain PCs, mobile devices, laptops, operating systems and printers, as well as perform the basics of networking, PC configuration and installation, including mobile operating systems. The credential is valid for three years, and 20 continuing education units (CEUs) or retesting are required for recertification.

CompTIA Network+: These credential holders possess a breadth of knowledge and demonstrate technical skills in basic network infrastructure-related tasks, such as installation, configuration and operation of networks. Network+ certified IT pros also possess the technical skills to manage and maintain network infrastructures, troubleshoot and solve unforeseen networking events as they occur, and manage devices, tools and security. The credential is valid for three years, and 30 CEUs or retesting are required for recertification.

CompTIA Security+: These credential holders can secure networks and manage associated network security risks, including foundational skills such as cryptography, access control principles and identity management. Credential holders also possess the skills necessary to address security issues related to the growing fields of BYOD (bring your own device), SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) and cloud computing. The credential is valid for three years, and a total of 50 CEUs or retesting are required to recertify.

Required courses: No courses are required. Recommended skills and prerequisites vary by certification.



CompTIA A+

Recommended: 6 to 12 months' of experience

CompTIA Network+

Recommended: CompTIA A+ certification plus nine months of networking experience

CompTIA Server+

Recommended: Network+ certification plus two years' experience in IT administration with focus on security technologies

Required exams: Two exams are required for the A+ certification. The Network+ and Security+ certifications each require a single exam.


Required Exams

CompTIA A+

Two exams: 220-901 and 220-902

CompTIA Network+

One exam: N10-006

CompTIA Security+

One exam: SY0-401

Exam costs: Prices may vary by geographic location; you can check on the price for your location at CompTIA.org.

  • CompTIA A+: $205 per exam
  • CompTIA Network+: $294
  • CompTIA Security+: $320

CompTIA study materials: CompTIA offers various self-study materials, including exam objectives, sample questions and study guides, as well as classroom and e-learning opportunities. Links to study materials and training resources are on the individual exam pages. Credential seekers may also check out the CertMaster online learning tool. Visit the CompTIA Marketplace for more information.

CompTIA A+ books:

CompTIA Network+ books:

CompTIA Security+ books:

CompTIA practice exams:
ProProfs offers free practice exams for CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+.

Self-paced training:

For IT professionals seeking to further their careers in the world of all things virtual, the VMware Certified Professional, also called VCP6.5-DCV, where DCV stands for data center virtualization and VCP6.5 identifies the VMware vSphere 6.5 environment, is a credential of choice.

A foundation-level certification, the VCP speaks to its holders' technical skills and competencies as they relate to data center VMware environments, including monitoring, managing, troubleshooting and administering such systems.

The VCP6.5-DCV certification lays the foundation for more advanced VMware credentials, such as the VMware Advanced Professional (VCAP6.5-DCV Design) and the VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX6-DCV). Separate certification paths exist for those interested in cloud management and automation (VCP-CMA), network virtualization (VCP-NV), and desktop and mobility (VCP-DTM). There are also associate-level credentials available for those who aren't ready for the professional tracks.

The most current VCP-DCV certification is VCP6.5-DCV. Like its predecessor the VCP6, the VCP6.5 remains a go-to certification for VMware professionals. The VCP6.5-DCV credential is valid for two years, after which candidates must recertify. Recertification is achieved by passing the current VCP exam, obtaining a higher VMware certification, or obtaining a VCP credential in another solution track.

Required courses: Requirements vary depending on the existing skills and current VMware credentials candidates hold. From time to time, VMware may update requirements, so candidates should check out the VCP6.5-DCV page frequently to confirm current requirements. 

Required exams: One or two exams depending on skills and existing VCP credentials. Exams offered through Pearson VUE.

New VCP6.5 candidate requirements include the following:

VCP6.5 – New Candidate Requirements

Prerequisites & Required Exams

New to Data Center Virtualization technology

• Minimum six months' experience with vSphere 6.5
• Attend a required training course. (See VCP6.5 page for a pop-up list of current available training courses.) VMware classes cost $4,200 to more than $7,000 depending on course selection.
• Complete the vSphere 6.5 Foundations exam

• Complete the VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization exam

Previous vSphere 6.x training but not VCP certified (excludes candidates with expired VCP certification)

• Attend the What's New [V6 to V6.5] training course
• Complete the vSphere 6.5 Foundations exam
• Complete the VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization exam

For existing candidates, including those with a valid VCP certification, the following requirements apply:

VCP6.5 – Existing Candidate Requirements

Prerequisites & Required Exams

Candidates with valid VCP5-DCV Certification

Complete VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization Delta exam

Candidates with VCP certification for any solution track that has not expired

Complete the VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization exam

Candidates with expired VCP certification for any solution track

• Attend a required training course. (See VCP6.5 page for a pop-up list of current available training courses.) VMware classes cost $4,200 to more than $7,000 depending on course selection.
• Complete vSphere 6.5 Foundations exam
• Complete VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization exam

Exam costs: VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization and VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization Delta exams are $250. The vSphere Foundation exam is $125.

VCP-DCV books:
VCP6.5-DCV titles are not yet available, but numerous VCP6-DCV items remain in print. Though they won’t always match up exactly with the latest exams, these materials will still be helpful for aspiring VMware professionals.

  • VCP6-DCV Official Cert Guide (Covering Exam #2V0-621), 3rd edition, by John A. Davis, Steve Baca and Owen Thomas (May 15, 2016). VMware Press. ISBN-10: 078975648X, ISBN-13: 978-0789756480
    • Note: See the "Updates" tab on the book's webpage for a guide to using this book with the new 6.5 version of the exam.
  • Mastering VMware vSphere 6, 1st edition, by Nick Marshall, Scott Lowe, Grant Orchard and Josh Atwell (April 6, 2015). Sybex. ISBN-10: 1118925157, ISBN-13: 978-1118925157

VCP-DCV practice exams: MeasureUp currently offers practice exams for VCP6.5 for $139, and covers the vSphere 6.5 Foundations exam ($139) and Delta exam ($119; discounts are often available) as well. Other major practice test vendors (Boson, Transcender/Kaplan IT Training, Pearson VUE, and others) are still catching up to this latest release.

Self-paced training: See the How to Prepare tab on the VCP6.5-DCV certification page. Standard and premium subscriptions for VCP6.5-DCV exam prep may be obtained from VMware Learning Zone.