Why Ongoing IT Training is Key to Career Success

While the demand for IT professionals is strong across the board, that doesn’t mean it’s OK to get complacent about ongoing IT training, especially if you’re currently in the market for a new position.

For one thing, most employers now require certain certifications for many IT jobs. And having the right IT training can increase your starting salary by up to 10 percent, according to the most recent Robert Half Technology Salary Guide.

But even if you’re not looking for a new job right now, regular education is key. Gaining certifications is one way to move up in an organization, increase your salary or simply remain relevant in your field, but it’s not the only option. Read on for a rundown of some of the most-sought-after IT certifications and other options for ongoing education.

Certifications in demand

There’s a wide array of IT training and certification options out there, and it can be hard to know which ones are worth the time and money. There are many valuable certifications, but the following credentials are among those identified in our Salary Guide as the most in-demand with employers:

  • The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) credential focuses on networking in different areas of technology (Cloud, data center, or routing and switching, for example). Those seeking higher-level IT jobs should consider getting the more-advanced Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) training, or even the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification, often required for network administrator jobs.
  • The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) and Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) training covers the latest technology for servers, desktops, private clouds and data platforms on Microsoft-based systems. These credentials are replacing the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification, which Microsoft retired in 2014.
  • The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, from the Project Management Institute, demonstrates expertise in project management principles, practices and procedures. It’s required for most project manager roles, but it’s helpful in many other IT jobs as well, as it provides an understanding of how large-scale projects should be managed.
  • Those who earn the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification, administered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, show that they can design, engineer, implement and manage an information security program.
  • A VMware Certified Professional (VCP) credential demonstrates that the holder can install, configure and upgrade VMware products. The company offers Cloud and desktop versions of its IT training now, as well.

Other types of IT training

Sometimes you don’t need formal IT training or a certification program – you’re simply looking for a tutorial to help you practice or perfect your skills on some new software or operating systems. When that’s the case, your best bet might be a short online course.

Lynda.com, for example, has video tutorials on everything from web development to programming languages and mobile app development. The courses run from beginner to advanced, and many take less than four hours.

MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are another option worth considering. Stanford Online and edX, for example, offer several technology-focused web-based classes developed by professors from prestigious universities like Stanford, Harvard, MIT and UC Berkeley. Bonus: Many of the courses taught through these two non-profit organizations are free.

Robert Half Technology also offers some IT training for our job candidates. Sign up with your local office for more information:

Online IT Training

Note: This post was originally published in June 2014 and has been updated to reflect more current information.