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. Below, we’ll explore the top IT certifications and share how to examine your goals to choose the right path forward.
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 employers want.
Database platforms have changed greatly over the years, but database technology remains important for various applications and computing tasks. Available certifications for IT professionals include those for database administrators (DBAs), database developers, data analysts and architects, business intelligence, and data warehousing specialists, and other data professionals.
Obtaining database certifications demonstrates an understanding of database concepts, design, implementation, administration and security. This can boost your credibility in the job market and show potential employers that you have the skills needed to work with databases. The best database certifications include the following:
SAS is one of the world’s leading firms for business analytics, data warehousing and data mining. Today, the SAS Global Certification Program offers 23 credentials across categories including foundation tools, advanced analytics, business intelligence, data management and administration.
SAS programmers remain in high demand, with a quick search of job boards showing thousands of open positions. Obtaining SAS certification shows employers that you are proficient in the company’s popular suite of tools. Some of SAS’s certification programs include the following:
Cisco Systems is a market leader not only in networking and communications products, but also storage networking and solutions for data centers. Cisco offers a variety of certifications for IT professionals, ranging from entry level credentials to expert-level exams.
These certifications prepare professionals for Cisco-related careers. A search of job boards reveals thousands of open positions for Cisco experts, underscoring the continued relevance of these skills. Some of Cisco’s certifications include the following:
Dell Technologies remains one of the world’s leading computing companies. In addition to its well-known hardware lineup, Dell also offers solutions for networks, storage, servers, gateways and embedded computing, as well as a broad range of IT and business services.
Becoming certified in Dell products can help make IT professionals competitive in engineering roles for server, virtualization, networking, systems, integration and data security. Additional roles include consultants, account executives, system administrators, IT managers and deployment managers.
In the mobile era, it has become increasingly important for network engineers to support local, remote and mobile users, as well as provide proper infrastructure. The focus on application and app development now leans more toward mobile environments, requiring security professionals to thoroughly address mobility from all perspectives.
Due to the fast-changing nature of mobile technology, not many mobility certifications have become widely adopted. However, a few of the top mobility certifications can help IT professionals stand out in this rapidly evolving field.
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.
As remote and computer-based work has become more common, it’s more important than ever that businesses and individuals be able to maintain their hardware. While discussions about potential computer-related jobs often revolve around software work and coding, jumping into the IT field by becoming a computer technician is an excellent starting point.
Today, thousands of hardware technician jobs are available across the country. Entering this industry becomes more accessible for those who acquire computer hardware certifications. These certifications can showcase your expertise and proficiency in the upkeep of computers, mobile devices, printers and other hardware components.
IT pros with solid cloud computing skills continue to be in high demand as more companies adopt cloud technologies. Today, Google Cloud is one of the market leaders in the cloud computing space.
Regardless of where you are in your IT career, engaging with certification programs can demonstrate your willingness to keep on top of rapidly evolving cloud technologies. To that end, Google has introduced a host of certifications for its cloud platform, including the following:
In the fast-changing world of technology, it can help to focus on certifications that have stood the test of time. “Evergreen” refers to certifications that remain popular year after year.
The top evergreen certifications are based on recent pay surveys in IT, reports from IT professionals about certifications they want or pursue the most, and those that appear most frequently in online job postings. Obtaining these credentials is one step toward ensuring that your skills remain relevant for a long time:
IT governance provides structure for aligning a company’s IT with its business strategies. 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.
Earning one of the following certifications proves a commitment to understanding the role of IT governance and its position in a company’s current and future success. Getting certified can validate your expert knowledge and lead to advanced career opportunities.
An IT system administrator is responsible for managing and maintaining the information technology infrastructure within an organization. The position demands sought-after career skills, ranging from configuring and maintaining servers and clients to managing access controls, network services, and addressing application resource requirements.
If you’re in charge of managing modern servers, there’s a long list of tools and technologies that system administrators must master. Obtaining some of the most prominent system administrator certifications can demonstrate your mastery to potential employers.
ITIL, or Information Technology Infrastructure Library, was developed to establish standardized best practices for IT services within government agencies. Over the ensuing four decades, businesses of all types embraced, modified, and extended ITIL, shaping it into a comprehensive framework for managing IT service delivery.
The ITIL framework remains the benchmark for best practices in IT service and delivery management, offering certification programs that cater to IT professionals at all levels. These training and certification courses ensure that IT professionals stay well-prepared for the ongoing evolution in IT service delivery management. There are four certifications in the ITIL certification program:
An IT enterprise architect is responsible for designing and managing the overall structure and framework of an organization’s information technology system. Enterprise architect certifications are among the highest that an IT professional can achieve; fewer than 1 percent ultimately reach this level.
Enterprise architects are among the highest-paid employees and consultants in the tech industry. These certifications can put IT professionals on a path to many lucrative positions. The average worker earns over six figures annually. Some top enterprise architect certifications are listed below:
To become an enterprise IT architect, you’ll need knowledge of systems deployment, design and architecture, as well as a strong business foundation.
CompTIA is a nonprofit trade association made up of more than 2,000 member organizations and 3,000 business partners. The organization’s vendor-neutral certification program is one of the best recognized in the IT industry. Since CompTIA developed its A+ credential in 1993, it has issued more than two million certifications.
CompTIA certifications are grouped by skill set and focus on the real-world skills IT professionals need. Armed with these credentials, you can demonstrate that you know how to manage and support IT infrastructure.
A longtime leader in database software, Oracle also offers cloud solutions, servers, engineered systems, storage, and more. The company has more than 430,000 customers in 175 countries.
Today, Oracle’s training program offers six certification levels that span 16 product categories with more than 200 individual credentials. Considering the depth and breadth of this program — and the number of Oracle customers — it’s no surprise that Oracle certifications are highly sought after.
Vendor-specific certifications address a particular vendor’s hardware and software. For example, you can pursue Oracle certifications and Dell certifications to become an expert in those companies’ environments.
Business continuity and disaster recovery keep systems running and data available in the event of interruptions or faults. These programs bring systems back to normal operation after a disaster has occurred.
Business continuity and disaster recovery certifications are seeing a healthy uptrend as new cloud-based tools grow in popularity. While business continuity planning and disaster recovery planning have always been essential, they’re becoming more critical than ever — and IT certifications are following suit.
These are some of the benefits of IT certifications:
On the other hand, the downsides of IT certifications include the following:
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.
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:
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.
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, and can help lead you to new opportunities and a higher salary.
Ed Tittel also contributed to this article.