Technical support and help desk positions remain traditional points of entry into IT for many people nowadays. One way to make yourself stand out as a help desk professional is to validate your knowledge and skills through one of these leading help desk certifications.
HDI-SCA: HDI Support Center Analyst
HDI, a UBM Tech company, is one of those organizations whose name used to mean something ("Help Desk Institute" in their particular case) but whose legal cognomen has now been changed to match its name and its abbreviation completely. The rebranding occurred in 2005 in recognition that the service management and support center industry is expanding, growing and maturing.
HDI offers a complete multi-tiered certification program that spans from the entry-level credentialHDI Desktop Support Technician to the HDI Support Center Director credential. Other credentials of interest include the HDI Support Center Team Lead and the HDI Customer Service Representative (HDI-CSR). Last year, we featured the HDI-CSR in our list of the top 5 certs. This year, however, we opted to feature the HDI Support Center Analyst (HDI-SCA), which is one of HDI’s most popular certifications.
The HDI-SCA credential is designed for IT professionals who are on the front line, interfacing directly with customers. The HDI-SCA validates skills necessary to provide quality support, including understanding and knowledge of common service center management processes, best practices and ITIL processes. The credential also covers a variety of soft skills that are necessary to be successful in customer-facing roles, such as effective communication and call management, identifying and resolving problems, listening skills and managing incidents.
ACSP: Apple Certified Support Professional
The focus of the Apple Certified Support Professional (ACSP) credential, however, is OS X on Macs, not iOS on iPhone and iPad devices. (Some Apple Authorized Training Centers offer a course -- Managing Apple Devices 2.0: Deploying and Maintaining iOS 8 and Yosemite -- for professionals working with Apple devices.) Nevertheless, with Macs claiming a respectable mind and market share at work these days, the ACSP remains a worthwhile platform-oriented tech support certification.
The basis for this credential is the OS X Support Essentials exam, which covers the general functions of a particular OS X version, as well as installation, configuration, user account management, network configuration and services, and system management best practices and methods. To prepare for ACSP certification, Apple offers the Yosemite 101 OS X Support Essentials 10.10 course [PDF].
Apple certifications are becoming increasingly popular, and Apple continues to show its customer support savvy by preparing in-house support professionals to help their organizations support Apple computers. Check out Apple's Training and Certification page and click the certification of your choice for more info. Novaworks, an Apple Authorized Training Center, provides an Apple Training and Certification Roadmap, which is bound to be helpful to credential seekers.
iET Service Desk Analyst & Service Desk Manager
The Service Desk Analyst and Service Desk Manager credentials come from iET Solutions, a provider of global IT Service Management (including ITIL) and Software Asset Management solutions for mid-sized to enterprise class organizations.
iET teamed up with the Service Desk Institute, a leading European purveyor of best practice methods and standards for service desk accreditation and certification, whose primary focus is on the service desk itself, but who also helped iET to develop its Service Desk Analyst and Service Desk Manager credentials. As far as we can tell, that puts these credentials somewhere between vendor neutral (because of their focus on best principles and practices) and vendor specific (because they come from a purveyor of help desk software and solutions).
Microsoft Specialist in Windows 10: Configuring Windows Devices
Windows 10 is Microsoft's newest operating system, which is why we chose to feature the Microsoft Specialist in Windows 10 in this year's list of the top 5 help desk certs. As customers adopt and implement Microsoft's newest technologies, they're going to need savvy technical gurus to assist when problems arise. The results of the informal job board search reveal an increasing demand for professionals with Windows 10 skills, and this demand is likely to continue to grow in the future.
One of the newest Microsoft designations, the exam was released on September 15, 2015 (and is still in beta as of this writing). The exam is designed to validate technical skills in key areas such as identity management, storage and network configuration, managing apps, remote access and data access. Successful candidates are able to plan and implement solutions for desktop and device deployment and Intune device management as well as data loss protection and virtualization using Hyper-V.
CompTIA reached a milestone this last year reporting more than ONE MILLION IT professionals now possess the CompTIA A+ credential! The popularity of the credential with IT professionals and employers alike is unquestioned. CompTIA A+ is an excellent entry-level certification for those entering the IT help desk and hardware support professions. In fact, it's the ideal foundational certification for candidates pursuing a wide variety of other IT certifications; see the CompTIA Career Roadmap to get an idea of the versatility of credentials offered. Both well known and respected in various IT circles, the A+ is recognized by the Department of Defense (DoD) and is a service technician requirement for many enterprise-level companies, including Dell, Lenovo and Intel.
A+ credential holders are technical support technicians, either in-house or field techs, who can install, configure and maintain PCs, laptops, printers and mobile devices, dig in to PC and mobile operating systems to configure and troubleshoot those systems, and perform basic networking. Candidates pursuing the A+ cert must pass two exams: one with a focus on PC hardware and networking, and another on operating systems, security and mobile devices.
The certification is valid for three years, and credential holders must obtain 20 continuing education units (CEUs) to recertify.