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The 6 Best Information Technology Certifications for Career Changers

Dec 9, 2016 | Harrison College

The 6 Best Information Technology Certifications for Career Changers

If you’re considering a shift in your career path, you’re likely no stranger to the questions that come with it: Will I enjoy this new path more than the one I’m currently on? How difficult will it be to land a job in this new field? How can I ensure this change will be worth it in the long run?


We’re here to help you cross some of those questions off your list as you prepare for a new and exciting career in information technology (IT). First and foremost, you’re headed in the right direction if you’re looking for a growing career field with competitive compensation!


Due to increased emphasis on cloud computing, big data and the internet of things, employment of computer and IT occupations is projected to experience a 12 percent leap by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is wonderful news for IT hopefuls, especially when paired with a median annual salary that is more than double that of the national average for all occupations.


For these and other reasons, IT may be a no-brainer for you. If you’re looking for ways to make your resume stand out from the pack when applying for jobs in this field, certifications can do just that. But why are they important and which are the best information technology certifications to obtain? Keep reading to get the inside scoop.


Why are IT certifications important?

According to a 2015 study from CompTIA, 93 percent of employers assert that finding the right IT professional to fill their job openings has proven to be a major challenge. This is why 91 percent of those employers maintain that information technology certifications play an important role in their hiring processes, citing them as reliable predictors of successful employees.


In fact, many employers require IT certifications for certain job openings as a means of reducing the number of resumes they receive from unqualified individuals.


It’s true that an information technology degree will help you acquire the skills needed to build a foundation in the field. But IT employers agree that certifications provide what they consider to be the “baseline set of knowledge” for many IT positions. That is to say, training alone is not enough — IT certifications can help validate your skills to potential employers before you even meet for an interview


The 6 best information technology certifications to consider

You now understand how important IT certifications are to hiring managers in the field. But with so many options out there, it’s hard to determine which ones make the most sense for you to start out with.

That’s why we used real-time market intelligence to examine more than 335,000 entry-level IT job postings from the past year.* The data revealed the six best information technology certificates for rookie IT pros. Here’s what we found:


1. CompTIA A+

The CompTIA A+ certification has been called the “most essential” certification for establishing a successful IT career. This makes it a great certification to acquire for those who are new to the field. This certification corroborates an IT pro’s understanding of some of the most common hardware and software technologies. It also certifies the skills necessary to support complex IT infrastructures.


This globally recognized and accredited certification has been approved by the U.S. Department of Defense. Professionals with A+ certification are trusted by employers to keep their devices operating and organizations working effortlessly.


2. Cisco Certified Network Associate

The CISCO Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an IT certification from Cisco, the largest networking company in the world. While there was formerly just one CCNA certification, Cisco’s program has since evolved in an effort to more closely align with changing industry job roles. This has resulted in several different types of CCNA certification, including CCNA Cloud, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCNA Wireless, CCNA Routing and Switching, and CCNA Industrial — the certification most closely mirroring the original CCNA exam.


Cisco’s career certifications are sectioned into five levels of network certification: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert and Architect. The CCNA certifications are at the Associate level and aim to provide the skills required of networking professionals to successfully manage cutting-edge network solutions. You can learn more by visiting Cisco’s certification page.


3. CompTIA Network+

Data networks have become a lifeline for businesses because they relate to critical financial, healthcare and information services that must function at the most secure level. The CompTIA Network+ certification verifies IT pros’ skills and knowledge to troubleshoot, configure and manage these systems to keep any company productive.


CompTIA Network+ professionals are trained to work with a wide array of hardware, software and networks, making them in-demand worldwide. 


4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Backed by (ISC)², a globally-recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the information security (InfoSec) field, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification is not for the faint of heart. That is to say, this is the ideal credential for candidates with “proven deep technical and managerial competence, [as well as the] skills, experience and credibility to design, engineer, implement and manage their overall information security program,” according to (ISC)². This certification demonstrates that an IT pro can help protect organizations from the rapid growth of sophisticated cyber-attacks.


The CISSP was the first credential in the InfoSec field to meet the stringent requirements of ISO/IEC Standard 17024, and it thus serves as an objective measure of excellence in the field as well as a globally recognized standard of achievement.


5. CompTIA Security+

We all know how critical security is in our highly digital age. Massive amounts of data are transmitted and stored on networks throughout the world, making it essential for businesses to employ effective security practices. IT hopefuls who possess the skills and credentials needed to ensure such security are among the most in-demand professionals in the tech field!


CompTIA’s Security+ certification verifies that tech pros have the skills to secure a network and deter hackers. This government-approved, globally recognized credential is developed and maintained by leading IT experts and can enable you to work all over the world. That being said, even companies located in your own backyard need these certified professionals.


6. Microsoft Certified Professional

The Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certification signifies IT professional and technical development expertise through its rigorous and industry-proven exam process. It covers a wide assortment of Microsoft products, technologies and solutions. The MCP credential then qualifies IT pros to distinguish themselves through even more expert certifications.


This certification doesn’t only demonstrate a mastery of Microsoft products. It also enables certified individuals to take part in MCP benefits, which include membership in a community of millions of MCPs and a number of exciting member resources. You can review the list on Microsoft’s MCP information page.


Are you ready to ignite your IT career?

If you’re looking to hit the ground running as you venture onto your new IT career path, you can greatly benefit from investing in these IT certification opportunities!


Not only will these certifications stand out on your resume as validation of your skill level, but 67 percent of employers say they use certifications as a means of measuring a potential employee’s willingness to work hard and meet a goal, according to the CompTIA study.


The School of Information Technology at Harrison College has a number of accreditations and partnerships to enhance the educational experience of its IT students. This includes affiliations with Cisco Networking Academy, Microsoft Imagine Academy and CompTIA Academy.



*Source: (Analysis of 335,822 entry-level IT job postings, Sept. 1 2015 – Aug. 31 2016)

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