Certification in an IT Discipline Can Advance Your Career

The IT world is an ever-evolving landscape. What is hot today, is passé tomorrow. The skills required in 2017 and beyond are a world apart from what they were several years ago. A Bachelor’s degree is often an entry level requirement for a job in IT. Five years after you’ve earned it much of what you learned is no longer cutting edge. Certifications help to keep your skills fresh and documented.

Demonstrate Your Skills

Certification in a needed skill area is a great way to show current and prospective employers that you are dedicated to continuous improvement. It demonstrates that you are keeping aware of current trends and future trends. Certification indicates that you have proven yourself knowledgeable to a trade association, user group, or vendor and have the skills and techniques to approach and execute the projects and tasks that employers need.

Vendor Certificates

Most major IT vendors provide their own certification tracks. CiscoMicrosoftIBMApple and AWS all offer certification tracks around their hardware and software programs and equipment. These certifications are all valuable to the IT professional looking to make a career of their products.

Other Certificates

Non-vendor/product certificates can also be advantageous. ITILPMP and CISSP, in conjunction with the previously mentioned certifications, display a well-rounded approach to IT integration to other disciplines. The application of the knowledge gained in acquiring these certifications to the technical knowledge gained through the other certifications improves the specialized knowledge of the specific help to prepare you for management-level positions.

COMMON Certificates

If you use IBM Power Systems and IBM i, you should investigate COMMON’s certification options. There are six different options, some for new professionals, some for those more experienced. Topics range from Business Computing to RPG, IBM i and AIX. Certification exams can be taken at locations throughout the United States or at COMMON events.

How Much Can You Get Ahead with a College-level IT Education?

Did you know that nearly 70 percent of everyone working in America is unhappy at their job? Deseret News reports that this statistic includes vast numbers of “uninspired” and “less engaged” workers, possibly like you. If you’re running on a hamster wheel that never goes anywhere, what do you do?

EducationCan You Really Get Ahead By Going Back To School?

In the long run, you can save more money to get ahead if you get the right college-level IT Education for a higher salary. Purchasing Power describes that:

“A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that among millennials ages 25 to 32, the average annual earnings for full-time working college-degree holders are $17,500 greater than for those with high-school diplomas only.”

On the other hand, you still face lots of tuition fees and possibly additional loans if you can’t get enough financial aid. Are you really willing to risk carrying extra debt on your shoulders if you still don’t get a great job with your new degree? For this very reason, consider which IT jobs really require a degree and which ones do not.

Job Requirements

Experience.com reports on what education employers require for the top IT jobs:

  • To become an IT consultant, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in computer science.
  • To work as a cloud architect, a bachelor’s degree in computer science is often a prerequisite.
  • A job as a computer forensic investigator is great if you get a degree in computer forensics, cyber security or information security.

However, some high-paying IT jobs demand experience over education:

  • Working as a web developer only requires an outstanding portfolio of past work to land good freelance jobs. Some learn web design through accredited degree programs, but web development is still largely a self-taught skill.
  • Employment as an IT vendor manager has flexible education requirements. While computer-science degrees may be helpful, practical business knowledge and experience in the field is often more valuable to employers.

Remember that a new degree doesn’t necessarily put you on the fast track to get a better career. U.S. News investigated if it’s really worth the time and money to get your master’s degree. They found that:

“… having a master’s degree won’t necessarily be worth the investment, and that may be the case if you work in an industry that values experience over educational background. For example, an advanced degree doesn’t make a graphic designer more talented. Most companies would hire him or her based on a portfolio.”

Talk to other experienced professionals in the field you want to work in before jumping back into school. Both you, and your wallet, will be glad you did.

Certification is Worth the Money

Today’s workforce is increasingly populated by contractors. This impacts the way employees search for jobs and the way companies hire new workers. Fewer and fewer workers are coming out of colleges and other training programs to find a job they will stay at for many years. So how is your next employer supposed to know that you are the right person for the job?

Certification is a powerful voice on your behalf, especially in the IT world or other industries where things change quickly. How can accruing more certificates help you?

  • Confirmation of skills: Let’s face it, people often conflate or even lie about their level of experience when looking for work. If you can show a verifiable certificate that you learned a particular skill, your potential employer will take your résumé more seriously.
  • Specialization: Many companies need temporary workers with special skills for short-term projects. They may have permanent workers who can maintain the status quo, but those workers don’t have the time and skill to quickly set up new systems and new programs. If you can show that you are certified to do specialized work, you will have a good shot at landing that contract.
  • Networking: When you take a class or go to a seminar to earn a certification, you are bound to meet people in your industry. While a lot has changed in the employment landscape over the past twenty years, one thing hasn’t. Becoming  friendly with people can help you make connections to get your current job done well or to meet new customers.

Don’t underestimate the power of adding another certificate to your portfolio. It is not just a piece of paper, it’s a tool to get the most out of your career.