As an emerging career professional or someone who wants to stay on top of their game, what are the top tech certifications you need to conquer the world of IT?
Well, in some ways, figuring out the best certifications for this type of career is always a bit of a moving target. In today's business world, some of the top certifications and credentials have to do with new technologies like virtualization, AI/ML and network security. That’s partly because these technologies are just now on the horizon. Also, employers are looking to hire those proficient in handling cloud topologies and structures – because the cloud revolution, which started years ago, is now really in the swing.
Here are some of the certifications and achievements that experts suggest will stand you in good stead to advance an IT career.
For Virtualization – VCP-DCV
The VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification is important for professionals who will need to evaluate, engineer or work with virtualization setups, which are now common best practices for distributed systems. Although some virtualization setups are open source, others are based on VMWare designs, and as a top name in network virtualization, VMWare’s name goes a long way.
Also, in a study, PC Mag found that IT professionals with this credential have acquired 7.4 career certifications on average, and stand to earn an average salary of just over $130,000 per year. Being able to say you have a VMWare cert drives confidence in an era where virtual machines and containers are all the rage.
AWS Cloud Practitioner or CSA Cert
This is a set of vendor-related certifications that has a certain degree of utility-related to Amazon's presence in the realm of building cloud native systems. Amazon Web Services (AWS) simply dominates the cloud world. So many enterprise platforms are stood up with AWS tools, (such as AWS S3 for object storage or Lambda for serverless functions, or Alexa Skill Builder) that the AWS certifications are enough to position a top tech well.
Then there’s also the ability to work for companies that participate in AWS Partner Network (APN) programs. This kind of networking connection is another boost that a career pro can get from the AWS CP cert. In terms of earnings, experts cite sources like the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Survey showing that AWS certified pros can earn an average of around $130,000 a year. All of this makes the AWS credential attractive right now. (Read also: Job Role: AWS Solution Architect.)
Google Certified PCA
The Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect accreditation has been popular for a number of years, for some fairly concrete reasons. Certification on the Google Cloud Platform means cert holders can demonstrate the ability to design with Google's cloud architecture. Certified professionals can make over $160,000 a year, and Google Certified Professional Cloud Architects are estimated to earn an average of $175,761 per year. It’s obvious how certifications tied to Google’s cloud architectures have value related to what Google has built as a top tech company, in web-delivered services and elsewhere.
For Cybersecurity – CISSP
In a foundational sense, the earning of a CISSP cert is a major value right now, because of the vast utility and the urgency of acquiring cybersecurity talent. By establishing the ability to look at cybersecurity from a leadership perspective, CISSP-certified careerists are able to delve into all of the questions around network and data protection, and figure out how to stop threats both at the perimeter and deep inside a network. The cert has ranked high in terms of money-earning certifications over the past few years, where CISSP brought an estimated average salary of just over $100,000 (and equivalent non-certified professionals, according to some sources, earned an average of $87,000 per year.) All of the way up the ladder, CISSP is shown to have value and benefits in an enterprise context. (Read also: 5 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2021.)
When it comes to big-name IT certs, the Citrix Certified Associate for Virtualization (CCA-V) is one that often gets left out. But students have been reporting great career results with CCA-V, and a lot of relevance to some of the most common types of enterprise projects that require top talent. The CCA-V helps to demonstrate expertise in the installation of high-availability architectures and dynamic, desired-state cloud environments. Citrix Cloud and workspace tools are highly useful in some kinds of data center work and elsewhere, and CCA-V holders report making an average of around $115,000.
Microsoft-Certified Azure Administrator
This credential comes from Microsoft, the track record of which needs no introduction. With MS Azure central to many enterprise SOAs, this cert is said to return an average of over $120,000 for the career pro. It rivals the kinds of AWS and Google certs above, according to whose walled garden the professional would like to explore in a career capacity. (Read also: Microsoft Azure 101: A Beginners Guide.)
Take a look at how any of these top certifications will springboard your IT career. For IT professionals, IT certification programs are not only a way to gain credibility in their fields and to verify and prove their skills, but also to achieve personal objectives. An IT certification could open the door to higher pay, more job satisfaction and even more opportunities. Which one you choose should be based on what you hope to achieve.