- Numerous specialized IT certifications can help you advance your career, whether you’re just starting or are a seasoned professional.
- The right certification shows employers you’re committed to gaining knowledge and new skills.
- Assess any IT certification’s pros and cons before committing to the process.
- This article is for IT professionals interested in learning more about certifications that can help direct their career paths.
Earning specialized certifications is a surefire way to advance your career in the IT field, regardless of industry or current career level. The right certification validates your skills and knowledge, which makes you more desirable to future employers who want to attract and retain the best employees.
We’ll explore the top IT certifications and share how to examine your goals to choose the right path forward.
Did you know?: Many professionals earn certifications to help navigate their career paths. According to the IT Salary Report, 92% of information technology professionals have at least one certification.
The best IT certifications
We’ve narrowed IT certifications into specific categories to help IT professionals assess what’s available and pursue the best certifications to show their willingness to learn and develop the in-demand career skills their employers – and future employers – want.
Best big data certifications
The growing field of big data, analytics and business intelligence is all the rage these days, and the number of certifications is ticking up accordingly. Additionally, IT professionals with big data and related certs are becoming more in demand. Read more about the best big data certifications to help you build a better career in big data.
Did you know? Big data solutions for small businesses, including analytics, automated forecasting and data mining, can help companies accomplish more with less.
Best business continuity and disaster recovery certifications
Business continuity and disaster recovery certifications are seeing a healthy uptrend as new cloud-based tools grow in popularity. While BCP (business continuity planning) and DRP (disaster recovery planning) have always been essential, they’re becoming more critical than ever – and IT certifications are following suit. Check out our picks for the best business continuity and disaster recovery certifications to help you learn to bring systems back to normal after a disaster.
Best cloud IT certifications
IT pros with solid cloud computing skills continue to be in high demand as more companies adopt cloud technologies. With new cloud credentials arriving each year, the choices are multiplying. See our list of the best Google cloud certifications to find out what’s available.
Best computer forensics certifications
As hacking and computer crime continue to grow, the demand for qualified computer forensics professionals is also rising. Check out our list of the best digital forensics certifications to learn how to recover data and conduct investigations.
Best computer hardware certifications
Computer hardware certs are an excellent entry point for IT pros interested in becoming computer technicians. Read our overview of the best computer hardware certifications to help you demonstrate your knowledge and skills in maintaining computers, servers, peripherals and more.
Best computer networking certifications
IT pros skilled in various networking aspects remain in high demand in today’s job market. If you’re serious about networking, consider one or more certifications to advance your networking career. Read our overview of the best networking certifications that can help you set yourself apart from the competition.
Tip: If part of your job includes selling and implementing an IT solution, you may want to pursue the best sales certifications. You’ll show your organization that you’re willing to go above and beyond to reach sales targets.
Best data center certifications
With emerging software-defined data center (SDDC) technologies, many of today’s data center certifications require additional skills, including virtualization and cloud computing. Discover the best data center certifications to help you stand out as a technology manager.
Best database certifications
Knowledgeable and savvy database professionals are always in demand. Check out our picks for the best database certifications for database administrators (DBAs), database developers, data analysts and architects, business intelligence and data warehousing specialists, and other data professionals.
Best enterprise architect certifications
There’s robust demand for highly skilled IT professionals who understand technology as well as business and enterprise architecture. Learn more about the best enterprise architect certifications to help you get to the pinnacle of the IT certification pyramid.
Tip: To become an enterprise IT architect, you’ll need knowledge of systems deployment, design and architecture, as well as a strong business foundation.
Best help desk certifications
Help desk and tech support positions remain popular entry points for IT pros. To start or advance your tech support career and make yourself stand out, validate your knowledge and skills by earning one of the best help desk certifications.
Best information security certifications
Information security (InfoSec) professionals serious about career advancement should consider earning one or more of the best InfoSec and cybersecurity certifications. These top security certifications will help you become a leader in the field of information security.
Best IT governance certifications
Organizations faced with compliance rigors always need experienced IT pros who can see the big picture and understand technology risks. This means certified IT governance professionals are likely to remain in high demand. Read more about the best IT governance certifications to help you meet your organization’s strategic goals.
Best Linux certifications
Linux continues to have a strong hold on the enterprise, especially in the web server and supercomputer space. Check out our list of the best Linux certifications if you’re an IT pro interested in validating your Linux skills.
Best mobility certifications
Mobile technologies are experiencing unprecedented growth with no slowdown in sight. Mobility is truly taking IT by storm, forcing management to rethink everything from big-picture infrastructure design to network integration. Mobile certifications are following suit. Read more about the best mobility certifications to enhance your career.
Best programming certifications
When considering computer programming certifications, you must evaluate the programming languages as well as the development platforms with which you’ll work. IT pros interested in computer programming have no shortage of certification options. Check out our list of the best programming certifications for IT pros to learn about your options.
Best project management certifications
Project management certs continue to rate near the top of IT certification lists. Whether you’re interested in becoming a project manager or want to add project management to your list of skills, the best project management certifications can help you achieve your goals.
Best storage certifications
Skilled storage professionals are in high demand in today’s workplace. Those looking to prove they have the chops have many different storage certifications to choose from. Our overview of the best storage certifications can help storage-minded IT professionals narrow their options.
Best system administrator certifications
If you’re in charge of managing modern servers, there’s a long list of tools and technologies SysAdmins like you must master – and an equally long list of certs to validate your knowledge and skills. The best system administrator certifications can help you further your career and professional development.
Best unified communications certifications
Unified communications platforms combine multiple applications, including email, instant messaging, IP telephony, audio and video conferencing. In today’s globally dispersed world, demand for the best unified communications certifications is growing among IT pros.
Best virtualization certifications
Virtualization continues to rank near the top of every best IT certification list. The increased popularity of virtualization technologies translates to high demand for skilled and certified virtualization professionals. Our information about the pros and cons of virtualization includes virtualization certification resources for VMware, Citrix, Cisco and Azure.
Best VoIP and telephony certifications
As VoIP for business and IP-based public branch exchanges (PBXs) replace traditional PBXs and public switched telephone networks (PSTNs), the telephony space is changing, and so are the credentials for IT professionals. Learn about the best VoIP and telephony certifications to invest in this year.
Best wireless networking certifications
The explosion of mobile devices and wireless networks in the enterprise spells a high demand for qualified IT professionals who specialize in wireless technologies. Learn about the best wireless networking certifications for wireless-savvy professionals.
Did you know?: CompTIA has a vendor-neutral certification program. CompTIA certifications are grouped by skill set and focus on real-world skills IT professionals need.
The pros and cons of getting an IT certification
Achieving an IT certification has many advantages, but there are some downsides.
These are some of the benefits of IT certifications:
- IT certification validates your knowledge and skills.
- IT certification can expand your career options and make you more attractive to hiring managers.
- IT certifications show your employers that you’re willing to learn and invest in your education.
- IT certifications help a hiring company assess a candidate’s skills and knowledge.
- IT certifications save a hiring company time and resources when evaluating candidates.
- IT certifications support professional development.
On the other hand, the downsides of IT certifications include the following:
- IT certifications can be pricey, with expenses like study materials, training, classes and exam fees.
- IT certifications require an enormous time investment.
- IT certifications may be retired, so you’ll have to get a more relevant one later on.
Choosing to pursue an IT certification is a personal decision. However, investing in your career and future can be incredibly rewarding to you and the organizations you work with.
How to choose the best IT certification for you
With the massive number of IT certifications available across a wide swath of disciplines, choosing the best IT certification for you can be challenging. When deciding, consider the following questions:
- What is your end goal? Decide what you want to accomplish. You may be looking for job security or a higher salary. You may have career aspirations, such as becoming a wireless engineer or an InfoSec specialist. You may want to change your career path, enter a new specialty, or refresh your current skills. Your employer may want you to fill a skills gap or knowledge gap to retain your position. Know what you want to achieve before evaluating your options.
- What are you passionate about? Pursuing IT certifications involves significant time and money, so you should care about what you’re studying to stay invested over the long term. Pursuing certifications in areas of interest is never a bad idea, even if you don’t need those skills immediately.
- What is your current level? If you’re an entry-level IT professional, pursue certifications that teach industry basics. As you advance in your career, pursue specific certs that fulfill career requirements or personal interests.
- What certifications are in demand in your field? If companies that interest you specify certain certifications in their hiring criteria, it makes sense to pursue those certifications.
- How much time do you have? With limited time, you may opt for a certification program you can complete quickly. If your time is less limited, you can invest in a long-term certification process.
When you have the answers to these questions, it’s time to do your homework and research the IT certifications that can best enhance your career.
Rapid IT advancements require new knowledge and skills
Technology continues to advance rapidly, and employers know that to stay on top, they must hire individuals committed to gaining new knowledge and skills. Take the time to review your desired career path and explore the best IT certifications for your goals. Doing so proves to future employers that you’re willing and able to expand your capabilities in the field.
Casey Conway contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.