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Are Standard IT Certifications Necessary for a Career?

December 21, 2013 IADT General, Information Technology 0 Comments

Are Standard IT Certifications Necessary for a Career?You've heard of standard IT certifications such as the A+, CCNA and A+ exams. These exams typically consist of a series of multiple choice questions and a hands-on lab that judges your knowledge of software, hardware or networking. If you're a student of information technology, you might wonder if these certifications are worth adding to your workload. Many employers prefer actual work experience to certifications; however, certifications may be useful in specialized cases.

When are Certifications Useful?

  • If you're new to information technology and want to understand the basic tasks of an IT support specialist, an A+ course will teach you what you need to know. An A+ exam will test your knowledge of basic computer hardware and software maintenance. An A+ certification probably won't improve your job search results, but it can hone your skills and reveal your weak spots.
  • The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MSCE) course is useful if you're going to be working in an environment that operates primarily in Windows. Employers do look for qualified MSCE candidates. Microsoft enterprise applications like Active Directory and IIS power large corporate networks, and employers are eager for candidates who can shine in Windows systems administration. Again, the MSCE is no substitute for on-the-ground work experience, but it doesn't hurt to have it tucked away in your resume.
  • The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) exam can be a huge boost to your career if you specialize in networking. Large enterprises such as Amazon rely on Cisco for their networking needs and often list Cisco IT certifications as a requirement in job advertisements. Unlike the MSCE or the A+, the CCNA is irreplaceable and immediately attractive. Comprehensive knowledge of Cisco equipment can really only come from a series of increasingly difficult Cisco certifications. The best way to take Cisco exams is to ask your employer or university to fund your certification as part of your curriculum.

Certifications will never harm your chances at your dream IT job, but you should know which ones employers value before you take the course.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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