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IT certifications help for many reasons, not least because they “prove” that you have the necessary skills. For good or for bad (see Winn’s talk on this) HR departments are using the fact that you are CISSP, CEH or Security+ certified as being one of their discriminatory methods of placing your CV on the “yes” or “no” pile.
Many IT professionals claim vendor-specific certifications better than vendor-neutral. There are obviously dozens of different IT qualifications out there and they are all sector-specific, i.e. virtualization, information security, penetration testing and intrusion detection, forensics, networking etc. Having the CISSP, CEH or Security+ designation does validate a professional’s proven job-role capability.
If you are reading this and just starting out your career in IT, then the first thing you need to do is clearly set-out what it is that you want to do within IT, in other words, what field do you want to get into? Our preference is with Information Security since that is where we see the biggest growth.
The purpose of this article is just to post ten popular IT qualifications.
1. MCITP: Microsoft Certified IT Professional credential is available for a variety of fields of expertise. These include, for example, learning how to become a database administrator, enterprise messaging administrator or a server administrator. Students must pass several Microsoft exams that track directly to their job role before earning the new designation.
2. MCTS: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist is designed to help train IT staff validate
skills in installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting specific Microsoft technology. Since the vast majority of equipment in the world operates on windows means that this certification remains popular.
3. CompTIA Security+: One of our favorites. Just read our blog and watch our web shows and you will see that Security continues to be a critical skill and one in huge demand. We have some stats from Hacker Halted that outline the continued surge of attacks at all levels. This growth is not going to change. Arguably, one way to instantly lose shareholder value, client confidence, and revenue is to suffer a data breach. No self-respecting technology professional wants such failure to occur on their watch. CompTIA’s Security+ accreditation provides a highly respected, vendor-neutral foundation for industry staff (with at least two years of experience) seeking to demonstrate proficiency with information security fundamentals.
We consider CompTIA’s Security+ to be the standard infosec accreditation. As a minimum, if you are serious about getting into IT, especially information security (protecting networks from attacks etc) then you should, at a minimum, possess this accreditation. Ensuring staff are properly educated and trained, especially with security is of vital importance.
4. MCPD: Microsoft Certified Professional Developer is highly sought after. This qualification demonstrates that you have the comprehensive skills required to build n-tier solutions that target both Web and rich-client user experiences. The MCPD serves as the premiere Microsoft certification for enterprise applications developers. Many students focus on learning the latest Visual Studio skill-set with an emphasis in C# programming. This IT Certification is aimed at IT professionals looking to understand the latest Visual Studio applications and development architecture. (By the way, by n-tier we mean “multi-tier architecture” which is client–server architecture in which presentation, application processing, and data management functions are logically separated).
5. CCNA: Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert is a first-level Cisco Career certification. The CCNA designation validates that the student has the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size routed and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN. To complete this IT certification the student must earn a passing score on Cisco exam #640-802, or combined passing scores on both the ICND1 #640-822 and ICND2 #640-816 exams.
6. CompTIA A+ Technology professionals that also have solid hardware and support skills are relatively rare. Essentially these IT professionals are like the mechanics – they can repair workstations and essentially really do keep the company running! Adding CompTIA’s A+ certification to a resume tells hiring managers and department heads that you have proven IT support expertise.
In fact, we read a report that states that although an organization might not require regular hardware support, those employees that were A+-certified technicians proved to be more productive than their
7. PMP: Project Management Professional is a certification awarded by The Project Management Institute, (PMI). PMI certification measures a candidate’s project management expertise by validating skills and knowledge required to plan, execute, budget, and lead a technology project. Students must have a minimum of five year management experience or slightly less if they can demonstrate project management experience and 35 hours of related education.
8. CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker is a professional certification provided by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council.) As far as information security courses go, this, along with CISSP, mile2 and Security+ are the industry’s most recognized computer security training programs. Although it hardly needs explaining, an ethical hacker is usually employed by an organization who trusts him or her to attempt to penetrate networks and/or computer systems, using the same methods as a hacker, for the purpose of finding and fixing computer security vulnerabilities.
A Certified Ethical Hacker has proven skills and will have obtained a certification in how to look for the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems and uses the same knowledge and tools as a hacker would. The exam code for C|EH is 312-50. The certification is in Version 7.1 as of 14 June 2011.
9. CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional this is kinda similar to PMI in that it is the mamma of all IT qualifications. CISSP designation sort of suggests that you have reached the top of your game. Also, as mentioned with the Security+ accreditation earlier, and with CEH above, security is only going to grow in importance. Whatever an organization’s mission, product, or service, security is, and always will be, of huge importance. (ISC)2, which administers the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) accreditation, has done an excellent job in creating an internationally respected vendor-neutral security certification. Interestingly, the exam and course syllabus has been translated in several different languages, not least in Japanese. This in itself shows how the certification is truly international and internationally recognized. Like all the other IT courses mentioned within this post, CISSP is accredited by the American
National Standards Institute (ANSI). In summary, CISSP validates a
candidate’s expertise with operations and network and physical security, as well as their ability
to manage and audit risk and understand legal compliance responsibilities and other security-related
10. Linux+ Another personal favorite. Love or hate it, Linux is everywhere, (sometimes you just have to look a little harder!) but for example most of the major websites of the world, Facebook, Ebay etc all run off Linux servers – that’s just one of a million examples. Linux, as an open source alternative is an important platform, especially within the Information Security sector. For those that want to break into security then we would highly recommend get Linux+ certified. This vendor-neutral course, which validates basic Linux client and server skills, is designed for
professionals with at least six to 12 months of hands-on Linux experience. In addition to being
vendor-neutral, the exam is also distribution neutral (meaning the skills it covers work well
whether a candidate is administering Red Hat, SUSE, or Ubuntu systems).
11. Mile2: Relatively new to the scene, mile2 certifications have been making massive strides within the Information Security space. Cyber Security Training, Penetration Testing and Digital Forensics are their strengths. Here is a list of their IT information security courses: C)ISSO Certified Information Systems Security Officer, C)PTE Certified Penetration Testing Engineer, C)PTC Certified Penetration Testing Consultant, C)DRE Certified Disaster Recovery Engineer, C)DFE Certified Digital Forensics Examiner, C)NFE Certified Network Forensics Engineer, C)SWAE Certified Secure Web Applications Engineer and C)IHE Certified Incident Handling Engineer. The mile2 CPTE seems to be their most popular and in-demand cyber training course.
That’s it. That is our list. Our 2012 Top 11. Do you agree or are we just dreamin’? Please comment below.