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IT Career Paths And Certification Guides

IT Career Paths And Certification Guides
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If you love technology, then the IT field can offer a number of opportunities and areas to specialize in. As you hone in on your skills, you can validate your knowledge by advancing up the certification ladder to achieve new career heights. Whatever path you choose, we'll help you figure out the right steps to take.

The certification guides listed below illustrate the different certification paths from tech companies and organizations in core technical areas including information security, networking, virtualization, storage, project management, big data, mobility, and a lot more. From entry-level to architect credentials, each certification guide will walk you through the offerings from the sponsoring organization, whether it's a company, like Microsoft, or a vendor-neutral organization, like CompTIA.

We also include information on certification requirements, training options, and advice on which credentials go well with others. Each certification guide will also give you an overview of the certification sponsor with links to additional resources. And once you identify the certification path or area you'd like to specialize in, take a look at our list of the best IT certifications in more than 20 different areas of IT, including cloud computing, computer forensics, healthcare IT and more.

Before diving into the individual certification guides, take a look at our introductory guide where we walk you through the typical IT certification pyramid, from entry-level certifications to pinnacle credentials.

IT pros and creative professionals working with Apple technologies have several certifications to choose from in addition to the Apple Certified Trainer option for those interested in teaching others about Apple systems and programs.

IT pros know Avaya for its networking and unified communications products, as well as its CRM integration. The Professional Credential Program emerged from the need for highly knowledgeable and skilled individuals who could sell and design solutions for customers as well as deploy and maintain Avaya products and solutions.

Amazon Web Services, or AWS for short, offers relatively few certifications, but they pack a powerful punch. Check out these sought-after certifications to see how they can boost your salary potential and up your knowledge base.

Brocade's certification program includes three certification levels across four networking-related tracks. IT professionals working with Brocade technologies should take a closer look at the benefits of these certs.

Check Point creates business security products for enterprises, service providers, SMBs and consumers. The Check Point certification program offers credentials designed for systems and network admins, engineers and security managers.

Cisco's networking and communications certs focus on three main segments: enterprise and service provider, small business, and home. Although Cisco offers a number of certifications, the most prominent ones are the CCNA, CCNP and CCIE.

Citrix certifications focus on mobility, app and desktop virtualization, and cloud networking, spanning three certification levels, from associate (CCA) to expert (CCE), with professional (CCP) in between.

Cloudera focuses on big data and data analytics certifications for IT professionals working in data scientist, data engineer as well as Hadoop administration and development roles.

CompTIA's vendor-neutral certifications are some of the most comprehensive and globally recognized entry-level credentials for IT pros. The popular A+, Network+ and Security+ certs ave helped many IT professionals get their start in IT.

Dell's certification program focuses on deployment services covering Dell's SC and PS series storage as well as networking hardware. Dell Education Services also partners with third-party certification providers including Microsoft, CompTIA and SNIA.

The EC-Council is known as a leader in information security education, training and certification. The vendor-neutral certification program includes the popular Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) cert and other globally recognized credentials.

If cutting-edge data center and cloud optimization technology is your thing, take a look at what F5 Networks has to offer. It offers IT credentials that help prepare students to develop, deploy and support the company's products and solutions. 

If you work with HP's enterprise hardware or software products, then investing in the company's certifications is a no-brainer. HPE's certification program offers a number of associate, professional, expert and master level credentials for IT pros.

IBM's professional certification program offers over 100 certifications in software, hardware, solutions and more. IT pros who work with IBM products are ideal candidates and can usually achieve certification status by passing one or two exams.

With a focus on IT governance, ISACA offers four professional certifications geared toward information systems auditors and managers, including the CISA, CISM, CGEIT and CRISC certifications.

(ISC)2 is a nonprofit organization that offers vendor-neutral security certifications. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is one of the most popular security certifications and is highly regarded in the IT industry.

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the de facto standard for IT service management frameworks. ITIL's certifications are spread across five different levels and focus on the five phases of the ITIL lifecycle.

Certifications from Juniper Networks can offer career growth opportunities, along with greater insight into the products and services. If you work for a company that utilizes Juniper Network technologies, participating in this certification program is a must.

The Linux Professional Institute's (LPI) certification program is simple and includes just three vendor-neutral certs. See what the LPI program has to offer and how you can build your career in this in-demand niche.

Microsoft's certification program is divided into five main categories including server, desktop, application, database and developer with certifications available at the MTA, MCSA, MCSE, MCSD, Specialist and MOS levels.

MongoDB database administrators and developers are in high demand and today can take advantage of the company's certs to validate their knowledge and skills. Learn more about the current and upcoming credentials from MongoDB.

For storage professionals interested in storage implementation, administration, support, installation and converged infrstructure, NetApp technology users can get certified as an Associate Specialist or Professional. 

Oracle's certifications fall into five different levels across nine categories, including applications, database, enterprise management, industries, Java and middleware, operating systems, systems, virtualization and cloud.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is best known for its highly sought-after PMP certification. In addition to certification and training, the nonprofit offers educational resources and professional development assistance for project managers. 

Red Hat provides open source software solutions to more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies. Red Hat's professional certifications are based on its operating systems, virtualization, storage and cloud-based solutions.

Salesforce is one of the top customer relationship management companies today, offering more than just its cloud-based CRM. IT pros, developers as well as sales and marketing professionals can take advantage of the certifications that Salesforce offers. 

SAP offers more than 160 certifications around its enterprise business software with plenty of options for IT professionals including SAP system administrator, architect, developer and technology consultant certs.

The SANS Institute's Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) program has over 20 vendor-neutral information security credentials at introductory, intermediate, advanced and expert levels.

The SAS Global Certification program focuses on business intelligence, analytics, as well as data management, administration, mining and warehousing. IT pros can choose from eight vendor-neutral certs from five different categories.

As the global leader in solutions an services for big data and analytics, data warehousing and marketing applications, Teradata offers certifications for Teradata and Aster IT professionals. 

The Open Group has developed a comprehensive yet vendor-neutral set of IT certifications, standards, relevant training programs to help develop "T-shaped people" -- those who have broad range of experience in IT, but also have a specialty area.

VMware offers certifications in cloud management and automation, data center and network virtualization, as well as desktop and mobility across five certification levels.

 

Ed Tittel

Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who has worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom's IT Pro, and is the author of more than 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.