Monday, September 27, 2010

Best IT Certifications?

Students and their parents ask me all the time what certifications should we pursue? Which are the certifications that are going to get me a job?

Here's an interesting list from Erik Eckel
The 10 Best IT Certifications: 2010.

I'm not surprised that Microsoft certifications top the list - most enterprises are still locked into MS products and infrastructure.

  • SonicWALL eating some of Cisco's lunch - this is new to me. I'll have to check with my advisory committee and other schools, but this would shock me.
  • 2 Apple certs in the top 10? Maybe user demand for these products is driving adoption, but IT departments and professionals have been historically biased against Apple products.
  • Linux certs only an honorable mention? Linux is still very popular in the server space, so I would think this should be higher.
  • CISSP is low on the list and does not have a very hands-on focus. I'd like to see security higher on the list and a greater emphasis on hands-on.
  • QuickBooks? I don't think of this as an IT cert.
I'm glad to see project management make the list (CompTIA's Project+ is a good alternative to PMP). Likewise imaging/backup in honorable mention is a good start, but I think we (IT professionals and enterprises) need to do take backup more seriously. Lastly, I agree with Eckel that students can't go wrong with a pocket full of CompTIA certs. What do you think?

The certification landscape changes as rapidly as the technologies you support. Here's an updated list of certs that currently offer the most value and validity for IT pros.

  1. MCITP - Those professionals earning Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification give employers and clients confidence that they've developed the knowledge and skills necessary to plan, deploy, support, maintain, and optimize Windows technologies. Specifically, the Enterprise Desktop Administrator 7 and Server Administrator tracks hold great appeal, as will Enterprise Messaging Administrator 2010, as older Exchange servers are retired in favor of the newer platform.

  2. MCTS - the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) accreditation earns a spot on the list; it provides the opportunity for IT pros to demonstrate expertise on a specific technology that an organization may require right here, right now.

  3. Network+ - IT professionals must know and understand the network principles and concepts that power everything within an organization's IT infrastructure, whether running Windows, Linux, Apple, or other technologies. Instead of dismissing CompTIA's Network+ as a baseline accreditation, every IT professional should add it to their resume.

  4. A+ - the A+ accreditation is another cert that all IT professionals should have on their resume. Proving baseline knowledge and expertise with the hardware components that power today's computers should be required of all technicians. ... The more industry staff can learn about the fundamental hardware components, the better.

  5. CSSA - SonicWALLs power countless SMB VPNs. The company's network devices also provide firewall and routing services, while extending gateway and perimeter security protections to organizations of all sizes. By gaining Certified SonicWALL Security Administrator (CSSA) certification, engineers can demonstrate their mastery of network security essentials, secure remote access, or secure wireless administration. There's an immediate need for engineers with the knowledge and expertise required to configure and troubleshoot SonicWALL devices providing security services.

  6. CCNA - Although SonicWALL has eaten some of Cisco's lunch, the demand for Cisco skills remains strong. Adding Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) expertise to your resume does no harm and helps convince larger organizations, in particular, that you have the knowledge and skills necessary to deploy and troubleshoot Cisco routing and switching hardware.

  7. ACTC - Here's where the debate really begins. Increasingly, my office is being asked to deploy and administer Mac OS X networks. In the real world, divorced from IT-industry rhetoric, we're being asked to replace older Windows networks with Mac OS X client-server environments.

  8. ACSP - Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) 10.6 accreditation helps IT professionals demonstrate expertise supporting Mac OS X client workstations. If you work for a single organization, and that firm doesn't use Macs, you won't need this certification. But larger organizations adding Macs due to demand within different departments or consultants working with a wide client base will do well to ensure they have Snow Leopard client skills.

  9. CISSP - Unchanged from the last 10 best certifications list, ISC2's security accreditation for industry professionals with at least five years of full-time experience is internationally recognized for its value and validity. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) title demonstrates expertise with operations and network security, subjects that will only increase in importance as legal compliance, privacy, and risk mitigation continue commanding larger organizations' attention.

  10. PMP - IT departments require staff familiar with planning, scheduling, budgeting, and project management. That's why the Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) accreditation makes the list. The cert measures candidates' expertise in managing and planning projects, budgeting expenses, and keeping initiatives on track.

Honorable Mentions MCSE, ITIL, RHCP, Linux+, VCP, ACE, QuickBooks, Security+NetWare - gone the way of BNC connectorsITIL® has its place, particularly in larger environments. RHCP (or Linux+) and VCP have roles within enterprises dependent upon Red Hat/Linux and VMware virtualization technologies certainly, but those organizations remain hit or miss. Acronis' ACE deserves a look. With some 3 million systems being backed up now by Acronis image software, it would behoove technology professionals to learn how to properly use the software. SMBs are also demonstrating a surge of interest in QuickBooks technologies. Security+, really, is a no brainer ... my advice for anyone entering the industry or even veterans seeking their first accreditations would be to load up on CompTIA certs.

1 comment:

Nathaniel @ project management institute certification said...

This list is great! I'm sure that lots of students nowadays doesn't know what to pursue.

This will greatly help them a lot! Thanks for sharing!


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