Certify Yourself for a Great Career

by on January 31st, 2011 1 comment

In today’s competitive world, a lot of things depend on how highly people think about your skill levels. You may have worked in a field for a number of years, however, the charm a certification holds over potential clients or employers is an entirely different phenomenon. To be fair, it does seem to provide a baseline against which people can measure your skills. And while it may seem like a glass-half-empty scenario when a certified but less experienced professional is given preference over a non-certified yet more experienced person, you can make it work in your favor too.

Here is a roundup of some of the most popular certifications, some of which I’ve personally seen help professionals receive a significant increase in their pay package.

Microsoft Certifications

Believe it or not, Microsoft is a lot more than Windows and MS Office. In fact, I once went for an interview in which I was astounded at the sheer breadth of services the “Borg” – as referred to by Fake Steve Jobs – offers to the corporate world. And for most of those products and services, there are official certifications available straight from Microsoft.

If you’re into sales or administration and would like to take a crack at a jobs that require you to know MS products, their certifications could be of immense help.

The technologies for which Microsoft gives out certifications are:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Server technologies
  • Their Visual Studio Framework
  • Their operating systems for PC, embedded systems, and mobile
  • Their CRM system (Dynamics NAV)
  • Their security solutions

Whatever area of expertise on which you choose to focus, there’s a good chance a Microsoft certification exists for it.

Cisco Certifications

For those into networking, these certifications are a great way to achieve a career boost. Any individual who wants to excel in networking and network security should definitely consider going through at least three stages of their certifications: CCENT, CCNA, and CCNP. That’s because those with a CCNP certification and a good 5-6 years of experience behind them can earn as high as $97,000 a year (Source: http://www.careeroverview.com/network-systems-administrator-salaries.html)

In addition to these certifications that are most common, Cisco also offers a number of other certifications including a Cisco Certified Architect certification, which is the highest level of skill a networking professional could acquire from Cisco.

CCNET (Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician) is for entry-level individuals, and it builds on to CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), which further builds on to CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional). Usually, two more levels of certification are available above these, the last of which culminates in the applicant earning a “Cisco Certified Architect” certification.

CompTIA Certification

CompTIA is a very large vendor-neutral certification body that offers certifications in a wide range of fields including Networking, Security, Linux, and even Project Management.

CompTIA certifications also offer people the opportunity to further their skill set with additional enhanced skills certifications from third party vendors such as Novell and Oracle. This means that you could do an entry-level certification from CompTIA, which would make you eligible for an advanced certification from Oracle or Novell based on the type of course you have chosen.

Project Management Institute (PMI)

Project Management Institute is one of the first and the most respected certifications for project managers, regardless of whether they’re into IT or any other industry. One of their most popular programs is the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification. A study claims that having this certification enhances your pay package by at least 10% over your non-certified peers. That’s what the survey claims, and personally, I have seen people in India gain an increase of over 30% when they changed jobs and added this certification — of course, that’s no indication of the norm, but you see the potential, don’t you?

Red Hat and Novell Certifications

Red Hat and Novell are two of the most successful Linux vendors and have their own certifications, which can have a very positive impact on a person’s career. If computers are a passion and not just a tool for you, and if you’re not into programming as much, having a certification from either of these companies is probably just what you need to launch yourself into the System Administrator’s role.

Two of the most common (entry level as well) certifications are as follows:

RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer): This exam certifies that you have the skills required to be a senior administrator for a Red Hat Enterprise Linux System.

Novell Certified Linux Professional: This exam certifies that you have the skills required to be an administrator for their Suse Linux Enterprise System and perform all the tasks from installing and configuring the server to creating shell scripts for automating the most common server tasks.

Canonical and Ubuntu Certifications

The famous organization behind the most popular Linux desktop operating system, Ubuntu, also offers a number of certification programs for professionals who wish to be a part of the industries that use Ubuntu and/or Canonical’s flagship product, Landscape.

Canonical and Ubuntu’s websites have detailed information on all the different types of certifications that are available to interested individuals along with information on where they have their upcoming training events so you can be present in person and take advantage of the subjects covered.

Their course are extended for everyone including home owners, systems administrators, and even enterprise clients.

In an era where globalization has become more than a buzzword and competition is at an all-time high, certifications are the one of the important ways through which an employer or a prospective client can determine the skill of their potential candidates or vendors. The best part about these certifications are that they can be acquired in your own time as per your convenience. All you need to do is acquire the right study material (if you don’t already have the knowledge) and put together the funds required to register.

I know I’d like to do an MS Office and Ubuntu certification sometime in the near future. If you haven’t thought about this already, perhaps it’s time you did?

Here’s to a great career for all of us!