An IT Staff at his desk, staring at a computer

Top IT Certification Programs in High Demand for Entry-Level Jobs

Introduction

The field of Information Technology is one of the fastest-growing sectors, offering diverse opportunities – quick employment, good salaries, room for career advancements, and many parts, no strict requirement for a university or college degree. In this blogpost, we will explore some of the top IT certification programs that are in high demand, basic information about them, and help you understand what they are suitable for.

The focus will be on entry-level certifications in high demand. While there is a myriad of certification choices to choose from, the selection below is based on how popular the Certifications are, the demand for them and their usefulness in the marketplace.

The Benefits Of IT Certifications

Certification shows you what you do not know and validates what you do know. It is one of the ways to get the attention of the hiring manager and allow you to show your skillset to a prospective employer. Certs offer you the quickest route to get the training you need to become an IT expert and at a very reasonable cost.

Many IT jobs will specify Certification requirements for Job roles these days and you will need to have them to be considered for the job. This is in part the reason for the surge in the number of Certs. Some of the benefits of Certifications are as follows;

  1. Skill Validation – Certification tells the prospective employer that you are knowledgeable in a specific skill set.
  2. Competitive Advantage – Certification puts you ahead of those who lack the same, making you the preferred candidate.
  3. Global Mobility – Most certifications are globally recognized, the same standard is used in assessing candidates, unlike University/College degrees from different parts of the world.
  4. Salary/Career Advancement – You will earn more with a certification, than without it. It has real monetary value to it and is worth your investment of time and resources.
  5. Industry Recognition – If you want to work for Microsoft, Google, or Microsoft (or their associated partner firms) for example, you will need their certification to work for them.
  6. Specialization – IT Certification programs often cover specific areas of technology or expertise and therefore allow you to become an expert in a niche that resonates with your interests and career goal.
  7. Networking – You get to meet people -online and offline in the course of a certification program. This can prove to be invaluable in getting employed.

FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CHOOSING A CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

It may be worthwhile to consider some of the following factors before choosing a certification program.

Plan your career

1. Your Personal Interests and Career Goals

What do you hope to achieve? What are your interests and what are your career goals? You must consider these. The Industry is broad and the niches vary widely. You also want to choose a niche you will enjoy and will likely excel at. Something that suits your personality. Do you enjoy working alone or as part of a team?

A Cloud Architect for example will spend a lot of time in business-related meetings, as opposed to a Cloud Engineer who will spend more time troubleshooting and building a system. One is more of an outgoing personality while the other is more of a technical guy. A network Administrator will a lot of time diagnosing network performance. Choose something that resonates with you.

2. Available Time

You will need a substantial amount of time to devote to your studies, especially if you are new to IT. Maybe you already have a day job but want to make a career change to IT, You should consider the amount of time you have at your disposal and how much of it are willing to devote to the cause. Some certifications are more demanding than others,

3. Your Location

Not all Certifications are equally useful in all environments. Since the ultimate goal of taking a certification is to get you employed, you should consider options that will maximize your chances of being employed. For example, If Google Clouds is the predominant Cloud Service Provider for most companies in your location, it will make little sense for you to take an Amazon Web Service (AWS) in this regard.

4. Your Budget

Certification exam and training costs can be substantial, so you will need to consider your budget. It may not always be the best option to quit your day job (if you currently have one ) as it may take a while for you to get a job with your Certificate.

5. Market Demand And Relevance

Choose something that there is demand for and that is relevant to the job market. We will explore some high-demand IT Certification in below

Best IT Certifications For Beginners

These are some of the best IT certifications suitable for you to get an entry-level (sometimes,mid-level job), as mentioned earlier, they are based on their popularity, demand, and how they can help you rank higher in your IT career. You do not need a degree to get these certifications. They are specific to certain job types.

1. CompTIA A+ Certification – Helpdesk

Helpdesk is a common entry-level job for many IT professionals. It is easier to get into IT through this path and CompTIA A+ is the certification most suited for this role. An IT helpdesk interacts directly with customers, listens to customers’ complaints, and provides technical support and assistance.

The average salary for a helpdesk job in the US (according to Glassdoor) is about $55k/annum. Reasonable, because it takes only a few months to get the CompTIA A+ certification.

The CompTIA A+ Certification comprises two exams (Exam 1 and 2) each costing about $226. You can study for the exam on your own. The CompTIA A+ is a vendor-neutral certification covering the basics of Networking, Operating Systems, Security, and Mobile devices. The official Study Guide is here

2. CCNA – Networking

The Cisco Certified Network Associate Cert. (CCNA 200-301) is by far the most popular Networking Certification (Cisco’s market share for networking devices is about 45 percent). It is an excellent cert for entry-level (to mid-level) networking jobs.

The certification course covers all the major aspects of Networking, it is broad in the range of concepts it covers but is specific to Cisco networking. It is the number one course for Networking. The CCNA prepares you for all the major Job roles in networking such as being a Network Administrator/Engineer, IT support, Network Consultant, etc.

The knowledge of the CCNA is also useful in the advancement of other IT niches such as Cloud Engineering, Cybersecurity etc. The CCNA exam is broad, you will need some reasonable time to prepare for it. It costs $300 Some recommended free course materials can be found here. The salary for Entry-level is about $60k in the US.

3. CompTIA NETWORK+ – Networking

The CompTIA Network+ is a Networking certification, much like the CCNA except that it is a Vendor Neutral Certification. CompTIA ranks well amongst Networking certifications, especially in a vendor-neutral environment.

CompTIA validates the knowledge and skill required to troubleshoot, and configure both wired and wireless networks. It is suitable for entry-level jobs such as Network Administrators, helpdesk, computer technicians, Network Support Specialists system engineers.

The exam costs $358 You will find some training resource guides here

4. CompTIA Security+ – Cyber Security

Security + is designed to give you a good foundation for a career in cybersecurity or security-related roles. It prepares you for more advanced security roles like Ethical hacking and Penetration Testing. It ranks high among hiring managers for entry-level security jobs. The salary for entry-level is about $75k/annum in the US (according to Glassdoor, 2023)

The exam cost is $392. You can explore some training materials here

5. AWS Solution Architect (Associate) – Cloud

Amazon Web Service is the largest Cloud platform. The Associate level cert is excellent for cloud roles and a good introduction to cloud services to get you a job working in the cloud. It teaches you the basics of deploying cloud solutions.

With more companies moving their on-premise resource to the cloud, having this cert opens the doors to a wide range of opportunities. The certification exam is $150 (you get a 50 % discount voucher if you take the introductory Cloud Practitioner Certification which costs $100). Entry-level salaries are $70k-90k

There are a lot of useful study materials and hands-on labs here

6. Pentest + For Ethical Hacking

Pentest + is another high-in-demand certification offered by CompTIA. The focus is on Penetration Testing. The salary is about $60k-90k in the US. Although this is an entry-level Certification for Pentesting, having prior knowledge in A+ security+ is a good recommendation.

The certification Exam costs $382.

Helpful Tips For Taking A Certification Exam

Learning a new skill can be very challenging, it is easy to get discouraged and abandon the journey altogether. It is much like learning to ride a bicycle, you will need to be committed to the process, setting your eyes on the road ahead and not on the pedals.

Having a strong mental picture of what you want to achieve with the certification will help you have a more positive attitude in learning the technology, you won’t want to cut corners and engage in unwholesome practices. You must show commitment to studying and learning the technology. The following are helpful.

  • Start by gathering materials you will use to study for the certification. It may include paying for some online courses, books, or YouTube channels (You will be amazed at how much you can learn from such)
  • Design a study plan and try as much as possible to stick to it. An hour of study in a day can quickly add up to something significant in a short while.
  • Join a discussion forum or interact with people with similar goals as yours or those you are in the field to guide you. Having a personal mentor helps.
  • Do not neglect lab work, although it can sometimes be boring they do give you the best learning experience and deeper insights into technology. Practical skills are invaluable these days.
  • Use exam simulations to increase your chances of passing the exam.

CONCLUSIONs

A career in Information Technology offers some of the best opportunities. Certification programs offer excellent learning and earning opportunities.

For entry-level jobs, some certs to choose from include – CCNA and CompTIA Networking + for Networking Roles, AWS for Clouds, CompTIA A+ for Helpdesk, CompTIA Security for CyberSecurity, and Pentest + for Ethical Hacking. Ultimately, the choice of certifications should be based on your career goals.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights