Which IT Certifications Are Most Valuable?

What IT certification do you need?

The right professional designation can be a career-booster: IT certifications provide clear evidence of your knowledge of a particular technology or practice, can increase your earning potential and can be a beneficial part of lifelong learning.

IT certifications also are an important consideration for managers hiring technology professionals, although the value placed on them depends on the needs of the IT department.

Whether you’re a tech pro looking to expand your skills or a job candidate aiming to impress a prospective employer, earning IT certifications could be one way to stand out in your career. Here’s a roundup of some of the most valuable certifications in the technology today.

Microsoft Certification Program (MCP)

This tech giant makes some of the most widely used software packages and operating systems in the world, which means attaining one of MCP’s many IT certifications can serve you across various job categories and industries. Here are some of the main ones:

  • MOS: Being certified as a Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS), MOS Expert or MOS Master attests to competence in Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, SharePoint, OneNote and Exchange. Not just for administrative professionals, these certifications are also helpful for tech workers in cloud computing and general tech support.
  • MCSE: Universally recognized, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) shows that you have the skills to manage servers, data systems, storage, private clouds, networking and more.
  • MCSD: Getting a Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) certification shows that you have what it takes to design and create apps across a wide range of Windows products. It is among the top 10 highest-paying IT certifications, according to Global Knowledge.

ISACA Certifications

An IT governance professional organization, ISACA manages four global certification programs, three of which are highlighted below.

  • CISA: ISACA calls Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) its cornerstone certification. As the name indicates, it’s aimed at information systems (IS) auditors and is useful for professionals who monitor, control and assess a company’s IT or business systems. The prerequisite for taking the exam is five years of experience.
  • CISM: Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) is appropriate for those who work in management and focus on information risk management. To qualify, one has to have at least five years of IS experience and three years of experience as a security manager.
  • CRISC: A relatively recent ISACA certification, Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC, pronounced SEE-risk) launched in 2010 as a way to accredit IT professionals and project managers who are adept at identifying and analyzing risks through information systems. People with this certification are in high demand, partly because not many have earned it yet and partly because it’s difficult to attain. 

Certifications in Cloud Computing

Although cloud credentials are relatively new, it’s an exciting addition to the growing pool of IT certifications. There are several available, with many being specific to vendors — HP, IBM, Microsoft, EMC, VMware and so on. Some cloud certifications cover all types of vendors and, therefore, offer a more general perspective of this fast-growing industry. CompTIA Cloud Essentials is one of those comprehensive certifications, and covers everything from the business side to the IT side of cloud services.

Project Management Institute (PMI) Certifications

This professional group offers seven credentials. The most recognized one is the Project Management Professional. PMP covers all stages of project management: initiating, planning, executing, controlling, monitoring and closing. Those who don’t have all the prerequisites for the PMP can work toward a Certified Associate Project Management (CAPM) certification.

According to the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide, employers prefer to hire certified professionals, especially those who also have college degrees and real-world experience. Those who put in the effort to obtain credentials can expect larger salaries and quicker movement up the career ladder, not to mention a healthy shot of self-confidence.

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