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IT Certifications: What's Right for Me?

  • February 28, 2003
  • By Steve Rowe
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Finding Work after the Exam

As you consider a certification track, you will want to be sure the skills you obtain are marketable. You certainly do not want to invest a lot of time and money in a certification to only find that the demand for a person with your skills is minimal. First, do plenty of homework as to what IT employers need. Check job placement Web sites, such as monster.com and dice.com, to see what jobs are available. Do this over a period of time also. Checking the sites only once or twice before embarking on your certification course will not give you a good representation of market trends.

Also, do not underestimate the value of hands-on experience. Many employers, especially in an economy where people with IT skills and certifications are out of work, require hands-on experience along with a certification. Increasingly, many certifications are seen a baseline knowledge level required to even get into an area of IT. If you are new to IT, one way of supplementing your certification studies is to take on entry-level IT jobs to gain experience. Others have taken on volunteer positions in IT departments while working toward a certification. It is vital to be able to show perspective employers that you can perform successfully many of the tasks you are learning in a certification program.

Lastly, be realistic with salary and placement expectations as well. Many enter a certification program with the idea that getting a certification will give them a high paying job with lots of prestige and responsibility. This is a fallacy that many need to watch out for. Yes, some certifications will get you into a nice salary bracket and a position of great respect. These positions, like in any other field, are hard to get, and you often have to "pay your dues" before getting them. It is more important to enter your certification program knowing this is a field you want to pursue as a career because you like it rather than jumping into a certification program on long-shot hopes of attaining a huge salary.

Final Thoughts

As an employee for Que Certification Publishing, I am very close to this exciting, yet intense, field of certification. I recommend finding an IT field you can be happy with for a long time. After all, this is a career decision, and you want to be happy in your career. Check out the Web sites for some of the most popular certification tracks to learn more. Microsoft, Cisco, Java, Oracle, and CompTIA offer some of the most highly sought-after certifications. See what the requirements are and see if these groups offer you a career that you can be happy with. Check out some of the available study guides at your local bookstore to gather an idea of how in-depth the knowledge required to pass a certification is.

If you are considering certification and would like more general information, I recommend buying a copy of our Exam Cram 2 book IT Certification Success" by Ed Tittel and Kim Lindros. This book will cover specific exam lines in more depth.

Finally, tune in the coming months for more articles on the some of the specific certification programs you can pursue!

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