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Types of IT Certification

No introduction stressing the importance of computers is needed.  Everyone is familiar with our dependence on these machines.  For many users, though, the internal workings and motivation of computers remains a mystery.  (Even professionals in the IT, or Information Technology, field can be puzzled about why a defective computer does the things it does.  But they at least know how to fix it.)  As computers keep increasing in business use and personal use, there is a corresponding need for fully trained people to fix and maintain them.

Who Should Get Certified?

Do you have computer skills?  If you do and you are searching for a job in this industry, you might want to consider certifying those skills.  Anyone with job experience or personal experience in information technology would benefit from certification, especially if they do not have a college degree or if their degree is in an unrelated field.  This accomplishes three things:  it verifies that you have the skills necessary for the job; it shows your employer, prospective employer, or customers that you are dedicated and serious enough about your work to invest some extra time in it; and it can boost your earning potential and the type of work you are qualified to do.

The rest of this article examines some of the many certifications available.  Selected are two types of certification:  vendor-neutral (CompTIA), which does not focus on a specific line of products, and Microsoft, which, of course, is geared toward the most popular platforms used in computers today.

CompTIA Certifications

The following certifications are available from CompTIA.  The more obscure titles are briefly explained in parentheses.

  • A+: One of the basic, entry-level certifications covering computer troubleshooting and maintenance, basic networking principles, and the like
  • Network+
  • Security+: Designed for experienced professionals to demonstrate his or her knowledge of computer security issues and practices
  • Server+
  • Linux+
  • PDI+: Covering the entry-level printer and document imaging sector of the IT industry
  • RFID+: Radio frequency identification technology as applied to business products
  • Convergence+: Designing, implementing, and managing networks
  • CTT+: Demonstrates excellence and dedication among professional IT instructors
  • CDIA+: Designing document imaging systems
  • Project+: Certifies ability in project management and related tasks

Microsoft Certifications

The following certifications are offered by Microsoft.  They relate strictly to the technology and software that Microsoft sells.  Since this is the most widely used technology and software, these certifications are both respected and valued by employers.  They range from basic knowledge of MS Office to designing and maintaining very complex computer systems.

  • Microsoft Office Specialist: This demonstrates a person’s ability to use one or several applications in their popular software suite.
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS): This certification validates a candidate’s ability to build, troubleshoot, debug, and maintain a specific Microsoft technology.  Covers a single aspect, such as Microsoft .NET Framework – more than 30 certifications are offered.
  • Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD): The actual title depends on the job of the applicant.  These cover a comprehensive set of real-life skills that are called into play on the job – for example, as a systems designer.  Either of these certificates is considered to be a reliable method of indicating future job performance.
  • Microsoft Master Certification (MCM): Certified masters can solve highly complex IT challenges and are advanced in their understanding and experience.  Specific technologies include Microsoft Exchange Server, Windows Server Directory, and SQL Servers.
  • Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA): This certification is available to those already experienced in the IT architecture field – in fact, five or more years of experience are required, and the candidate must have a proven record of leadership abilities and technical expertise.