It's a tight IT job market. Earning an IT certification can help you qualify for a position, make your resume stand out, or move you up the corporate ladder.
Certifications do make a difference, especially in IT. Research from Prometric recently found that IT professionals with certs in their chosen areas of expertise were more satisfied in their jobs and had greater confidence in their abilities to do their jobs than did their peers.
That makes sense. After all, completing coursework and passing an exam should indicate a comprehensive knowledge of a subject. In addition, many top-notch certifications require hands-on experience as a prerequisite. Nothing beats some practical experience to serve as the springboard for the next career move. Experience, coupled with a certification, validates an IT professional's credentials and therefore boosts self-esteem.
That confidence carries over to the job interview -- which employers may have granted, at least in part, due to those initials signifying IT competence. Most human resources departments acknowledge that, while the certification may open the door, relevant experience is equally important. That is why the following seven certifications are not for those new to the IT world. Coupled with a few solid years in the workforce, however, these certs are indicative of highly trained and skilled professionals and command salaries that reflect top credentials.
After a few years of languishing in the doldrums, the job market appears to be perking up, according to a Dice.com survey released in December. A whopping three-quarters of companies surveyed said they would likely hire more IT professionals in the next six months. More evidence that the job market is opening up comes from a recent Robert Half Technology survey of CIOs and IT front-line professionals. It found that 35% of IT professionals plan to look for a new job, and another 35% are at least contemplating a change. It sounds like there may be plenty of job-hopping in the coming months.
IT is changing more rapidly than ever before, so those professionals that take the initiative to learn and grow will no doubt enjoy the fruits of their labor. Change also brings the opportunity to develop different skills and try things that are completely new.
Whether your interest lies in security, mobility, virtualization, networking, or project management, there are plenty of advanced educational options from which to choose. Here is a look at seven IT certifications that are worthy of your time and money.
1. PMI's Project Management Professional
Who doesn't need a great project manager? Every project can use an organized leader who is an effective communicator and detail oriented. The PMP certification can lead to higher pay for project managers, according to PMI's research. Employers pay someone who has held a PMP from five to nine years a median base salary of $113,000, while someone who has maintained a PMP from ten to less than twenty years earns a median base salary of $120,000, according to the survey.
2. VMware VCP-Cloud
This is a relatively new certification in a relatively new arena. Companies have many questions regarding cloud computing: How does it work? Who's got access to my data? Is it secure? Having a certification to back up your years of storage and virtualization experience can help ease concerns and fears. This is an expensive and time-consuming credential, and earning the VCP-Cloud doesrequire some prerequisite work. The average salary of jobs requiring a VCP-Cloud certification is $110,000.
3. The (ISC)2's Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
If security is your bag, this is a must-have. The CISSP exam tests competence in a number of security topics, including risk management, cloud computing, mobile security, application development security, and more. Its wide net sets it apart from other exams. To earn CISSP certification, you'll need five years of information security experience (or four years and a degree,) plus an endorsement from another CISSP, and a minimum score of at least 70 percent on a 250-question multiple-choice test. Oh, and there's a no-bad-guys policy: Applicants must have a clear criminal history. On average, CISSP professionals earn between $97,585 and $100,024.
4. Oracle Certified Professional Advanced PL/SQL Developer Certification
If you are looking to move from mid-level programmer to professional database developer, then this is the certification for you. The Oracle Certified Professional Advanced PL/SQL certification is for individuals who will be doing primarily server-based PL/SQL development and who demonstrate expertise in building database-centric Internet applications for Oracle9i and Oracle Database 10g. The prerequisite for this is the Oracle PL/SQL Certified Associate. Jobs requiring candidates to be certified as Advanced PL/SQL Developers pay approximately $109,000.
5. Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert -- Routing and Switching
Cisco certifications are extremely popular, and the routing and switching specialization -- which includes LAN, WAN, Ethernet, TCP/IP, IPv6, OSPF, and BGP -- is one in high demand. It serves to validate the skills of expert-level network engineers who plan, operate, and troubleshoot complex, converged network infrastructures. The average salary of jobs requiring CCIE -- Routing and Switching certification is $100,000.
6. Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer
7. CompTIA Mobility+
CompTIA is a trade group for IT professionals that offers four tracks of training: mastery, professional, specialty, and basic. Its Mobility+ certification is worthy of attention, because the mobile sector has experienced, and will continue to experience, rapid growth. According to Cisco, global mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold between 2012 and 2017, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 66 percent, reaching 11.2 exabytes per month by 2017. The CompTIA Mobility+ exam covers mobile-device management, troubleshooting, security, and network infrastructure. No prerequisites are required, but it's a good idea for applicants to have 18 months of experience in a mobile environment. (Salary information was unavailable.)