According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, at least 25 percent of IT professionals are without a college degree. For the vast majority of such cases, there is a need to validate their skills by some other means. That in part is the world of IT certifications. Validation of skills that are traditional outside the four walls of a University or a College. IT Certifications are a big deal, whether you are just starting out your career in IT or you want to advance in a specific niche. This blog will explore some reasons you may want to consider taking IT certifications. Are they worthwhile?
For starters, there is a plethora of IT certifications within the Industry. There are multiple certifications for any given sub-niche, and sometimes for even gaining knowledge on a very small subset of topics. Will it be worthwhile then to consider taking any certification? There are lots of IT certifications that provide very little value in terms of the skills they impact. They also cost money to acquire and will require some dedication from you in order to get them. That being said, you may want to consider some of the benefits of taking IT certifications as we will explore further below.
10 Benefits of IT Certifications
The following are some reasons you may want to consider taking a certification if you want to pursue a career in IT or are already working in an IT related role.
1. Skill Acquisition and Validation
One of the best ways to gain some technical skills in IT is by taking a certification course. No need to go through the rigors of a full college or university degree. Just enroll in a certification of your choice, do the study , practice and sit for the exams. This typically will take anything from a few weeks to a few months as opposed to a full college or university degree for 3-4 years studies. Certification offer you the opportunity to learn and validate your skills.
According a Statista, 87 percent of IT professionals have at least one certification. Part of this may be due to the fact that employers of labor needs some sort of certification to validate a candidate’s skill and knowledge during the recruitment process. A good IT certification should offer you the platform towards a disciplined and structure learning of core technical skill in your chosen niche.
2. Career Advancement
Getting a new certification may just be what you need to unlock the next phase of your career advancement. As high as 56 percent of people who earned IT certification reports an increase in their chances of advancing in their career and getting promotion in their jobs. Being certified can increase your visibility to employers and the opportunity of being promoted. Many employers value an employee who takes the initiative to learn and improve on their skill through a certification program. Such initiative can make them assign more responsibilities to you because of the perceived improvement in your skill and knowledge.
For many in IT who start out in entry-level positions, getting a new certification is always a positive signal to the employer that they are ready to rank-up the professional ladder. You can negotiate new responsibilities and roles with a new certification. This can also just be a box-ticking exercise for the HR department to start paying you for a responsibility you already handle but was never really getting paid for it. You can advance your career with professional IT certifications.
3. Enhanced Credibility
When you for example see someone with a Cisco CCIE certification, you can immediately conclude that such a person can be trusted to give credible information or opinion as it relates to solving a problem your organization may be having. Certification help you build credibility and make it fairly easier for organizations to trust you or do business with you if you are an independent contractor.
4. Global Recognition
Most IT certifications have global recognition. That means the perceived value of your education will not change even if you have a change in your location. There is a uniform standard for rating everyone irrespective of your geographical location. It also means you can easily migrate with your certifications where there is higher demand. Having a globally recognized certification means you are at par with other professionals across the globe and are up-to date with the current trend with industry standards globally. This improves your competitiveness as opposed to having just your college or university degree.
If you have plans to migrate with your skills, a globally recognized validation like with IT certifications will be a good addition to your portfolio.
5. Increased Job Opportunities
With all other factors being constant, people with IT certifications have a much more higher chance of being hired than those without. Most IT recruitment will typically include a certification as part of the requirement for employment. Considering the fact that most recruitment process go through an automated “sieving” process, not having a certification can get you eliminated prematurely in the recruitment process. An certification gets you a seat with the Hiring manager to “sell” you skills.
People who certify and gain new skills are valuable to prospective employer and can easily take advantage of the growing demand of IT professionals across the industry.
6. Keeping Pace with Technology
Technology changes rapidly and it is difficult to know the updates or keep up pace with the trends. Getting a new certification does just that for you. You learn the latest trends and better ways of doing things with a certification program. Cisco for example constantly updates its curriculum to reflect current trends in the industry. IT certifications help you keep pace with technology.
There are emerging technologies such as Edge computing, IOTs, super high speed internets like 5G, Artificial Intelligence, the Blockchain etc. A certification can be the cheapest and more efficient way to learn these technologies without quitting your job and then applying them to increase your productivity. People who do not keep pace with technology often become redundant and are usually the first to be exited from a company when there is a downsizing or job cut. A certification can give you an edge over your peers in this regard.
7. Skill Versatility
IT Certifications avail you the skill to work efficiently in a wide variety of environment and job roles. This increases your value immensely in an organization. Certification allow you work with a foray of different technologies to which otherwise you may never have had the opportunity to explore. This may even help you discover new interests and pursue new job functions or roles. Data suggests that 75 percent of people were able to fill a role or perform a task they were not able to do before certification.
Overall, it can leads to more job satisfaction if you get to develop the skill to work efficiently under different environment or discover new interests.
8. Improved Salaries And Remuneration
Getting validation through certification can significantly improve how much you earn as salary. It can increase your perceived value to employers. This is true whether you are just starting out in the industry or you are already working and want to rank up in your career. Also the quality of the certification will also a bearing on your salary and remunerations. For example, a Cisco associate level certification (CCNA) can earn you on average $83,000/yr but when you get the additional professional certification (CCNP) can significantly bump your salary by as much as 30 percent. (Average CCNP salary in the US is $120,000/yr, Talent.com, 2023).
According to the 2020 Global IT Skill and Salary report, new certification on average lead to a $13,000 increase in salary.
9. Networking Opportunities
Most Certification programs have a community of professionals build around them. Forums, chat groups, study groups, meet-ups etc. When you sign up for a certification, you get the opportunity to network with people who share your professional interests. These can afford you a lot of opportunities for career advancements. This also creates new employment possibilities, trends, mentorship (if you are just starting out your career in IT) etc. Certifications can help you increase your network of professionals and advance your career.
10. Access to Specialized Knowledge
Some skills and knowledge are only available through certifications – not through colleges or university education. For example, Vendor-specific certifications will only be available through the vendor training and certification. For example, the Amazon Web Services or the Google Cloud Service provider or the suite of Cisco’s networking infrastructure. You can only learn about these technologies and how to deploy them through a certification course.
IT Certifications validates your knowledge and skills, you should consider taking some certifications to advance your IT career. Some other reasons include increased salary, networking opportunities, skill versatility, access to specialized knowledge, increased credibility, global recognition, keeping pace with technologies and overall better chance of getting employed. It is also important to go for certifications that provide real value in terms of knowledge, skill acquisition and relevance to your career path.
You may want to check CISCO ENTRY-LEVEL CERTIFICATIONS: A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS