Certifications are a way to supplement your education with industry-specific skills and may help you distinguish yourself in a job interview. Some of our students have earned the following types of certifications on their own time. Our best recommendation is that you research the organizations that you are interested in working for and consider working toward the certifications of interest to those organizations.
Cisco Certified Network Associates (CCNA) validates the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size route and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN. CCNA curriculum includes basic mitigation of security threats, introduction to wireless networking concepts and terminology, and performance-based skills.
ITIL offers certifications on IT service lifecycle management/IT service management. ITIL practices are designed to help companies identify areas where they need improvement, providing vendor-neutral guidelines on where to make specific changes to reduce costs and increase productivity. The ITIL Qualification Scheme uses a modular credit system called the ITIL Credit System. All ITIL and ITIL-related qualifications within the ITIL Credit System are assigned a specific credit value. As those credits are applied, the applicant qualifies to test for a higher level of certification. There are five levels of qualifications within the ITIL Qualification Scheme.
The Project Management Institute (PMI), a nonprofit organization that serves as a leading membership association for project management practitioners, maintains the PMP exam. The certification measures a candidate’s project management expertise by validating skills and knowledge required to plan, execute, budget, and lead a technology project. To become certified, individuals must have 35 hours of PMP-related training. In addition, those who have less than a bachelor’s degree must have 7,500 hours of project management experience, while those who have a bachelor’s degree or higher need 4,500 hours. To maintain PMP certification, continuing education credits are required each year. PMP certification is another that requires years of planning and effort.
CAPM is a credential offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This is an entry-level certification for project practitioners. To become certified, individuals must have a secondary degree and 1500 hours hours of project experience, or 23 hours of project management education completed by the time you sit for the exam.
Available for a variety of fields of expertise — including database developer, database administrator, enterprise messaging administrator, and server administrator. This is an older certification that is being replaced by MCTS.
The new generation certificate helps IT staff validate skills in installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting a specific Microsoft technology. The MCTS certifications are designed to communicate the skills and expertise a holder possesses on a specific platform.
This is a retired certification because Microsoft suspended mainstream support for Visual Studio 2008 and .NET Framework 3.5. The MCPD accreditation measures a developer’s ability to build and maintain software solutions using Visual Studio 2008 and Microsoft. .NET Framework 3.5 split into three certification paths (Windows Developer 3.5, ASP.NET Developer 3.5, and Enterprise Applications Developer 3.5), the credential targets IT professionals tasked with designing, optimizing, and operating those Microsoft technologies to fulfill business needs.
(ISC)2, which administers the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) accreditation, has done well building a respected, vendor-neutral security certification. Designed for industry pros with at least five years of full-time experience, and accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the CISSP is internationally recognized for validating a candidate’s expertise with operations and network and physical security, as well as their ability to manage risk and understand legal compliance responsibilities and other security-related elements. CISSP candidates must have at least five years of full-time experience in at least two of the eight areas tested. If you don’t have the work experience, you can still earn an Associate of (ISC)2 designation while working toward the full certification.
A host of entry-level IT certifications for specific technologies including Server+ (server administrator), Project+ (project manager), and A+ (desktop support) certifications.
CompTIA’s Security+ accreditation provides a respected, vendor-neutral foundation for industry staff (with at least two years of experience) seeking to demonstrate proficiency with security fundamentals.
CompTIA’s A+ certification is fairly useless for management roles in IT. Basic prerequisite requirements are now followed by testing that covers specific fields of expertise (such as IT, remote support, or depot technician). The accreditation is aimed at those working in desktop support, on help desks, and in the field, and while many of these staffers are new to the industry, the importance of an A+ certification should not be overlooked.
CompTIA Linux+ is a vendor-neutral exam, which validates basic Linux client and server skills, is designed for professionals with at least six to twelve 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).
Comptia Network+ is a vendor-neutral networking certification that is trusted around the world. It validates the essential knowledge and skills needed to confidently design, configure, manage, and troubleshoot any wired and wireless networks.
Six Sigma is a process improvement methodology that reduces product waste or service failure rates to near perfection through a disciplined, data-driven approach. Practitioners use data to monitor, control and improve operational performance by eliminating and preventing defects in products and related processes, including management, service delivery, design, production and customer satisfaction. Lean Six Sigma also helps eliminate defects and seven other wastes.
Similar to the way that CompTIA manages the A+ and Network+ certifications, the nonprofit group ISACA, which formerly stood for Information Systems Audit and Control Association but now is an acronym only, offers a number of certifications.
Certified Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
Designed for IT professionals, project managers and others whose job it is to identify and manage risks to IT and the business through appropriate information systems (IS) controls, CRISC certification covers the entire life cycle, from design to implementation to ongoing maintenance. It measures two primary areas: risk and IS controls. To obtain CRISC certification, you must have at least three years of experience in at least two of the four areas that the certification covers, and you must pass the exam, which is only offered twice a year. In addition, continuing education credits are required each year to maintain your certification.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
CISM certification is aimed at management more than the IT professional. CISM focuses on security strategy and assessing the systems and policies in place more than it focuses on the person who actually implements those policies using a particular vendor’s platform.