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(Article) Are you Certifiable? You’d be mad not to consider an IT Qualification!



(Article) Are you Certifiable? You’d be mad not to consider an IT Quali... Editor's Pick
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, certain sectors of the IT industry employed a staggering 1.35 million workers in 2002. Earnings are good, with averages around $72,000 for applications software developers, and $59,000 for network and systems administrators.

By Mary Hobson

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, certain sectors of the IT industry employed a staggering 1.35 million workers in 2002.  Earnings are good, with averages around $72,000 for applications software developers, and $59,000 for network and systems administrators.Perhaps surprisingly, IT isn’t exclusively a domain for the young, with a large proportion in the 25 to 44 year age range.

If you want to join this body of IT technicians, it is advisable to consider a certification in some aspect of IT, for example the use of systems software and hardware for specific tasks, such as building and maintaining PC networks for offices, or designing and developing applications for users.  These skills take time and talent to learn and use well, and IT certification will demonstrate your competency in your chosen area.

What is an IT Certification?
When you undertake a certification program, you are embracing a method of training that has been proven since the late 80s and early 90s.  One of the first companies to start a certification program was Novell, with their Novell Network certification.  Microsoft came on board in 1992, initiating the Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) program, and by the mid 90s there were programs from CompTIA, Oracle, Sun and other manufacturers and awarding bodies.

Proof of your ability in IT
If you want to be taken seriously by employers seeking IT staff, you need to be certified.  Certification is evidence that you have a specific level of knowledge about a set of subjects.  Gaining certification within a program allows you to follow an obvious career path, gaining higher level certifications and/or broadening your areas of skill.  You will be considered as a professional practitioner.

Your employers gain twofold, not only because you will have the skills to solve in-house problems, but they can also use the certifications as an advertisement of their technical team’s capabilities.  Many employers use certification as a prerequisite for applicants for new jobs, and for promotion.

Which Certification Program?
Having decided to pursue certification, you need to investigate the different programs on offer.  Manufacturers of the systems products you use will probably offer certification; a classic example is the Microsoft Certified Professional program which includes MCAD – Microsoft Certified Application Developer, MCSE – Microsoft Certified System Engineer, and MCSD – Microsoft Certified System Designer to name but three.  Other certifications in this group are Oracle training programs, Java certification offered by Sun, Linux certification offered by a number of manufacturers, UNIX certification and a host of others.

Alternative certification is offered by independent bodies, such as CompTIA – the Computer Technology Industries Association.  These certification programs are designed to give you a vendor neutral certification. This could be useful if you change the kind of software or equipment you work with.  There are several areas of skills that are tested in this way, including systems administration of a network, and networking skills.

Where to study for IT Certification
You will find that many technical schools and institutes offer the necessary training courses, along with private training companies.  They are practiced at offering training to busy professionals, and will give you a mix of classroom and practical training.  There are an increasing number of colleges offering certification as a part of their more advanced training and education programs, on the basis that they provide a practical application of the generic knowledge-based programs that they offer.

Careers for IT Certificate Holders
IT has been labeled as a boom career area for nearly twenty years now, and it is true that prospects are still good in this area.  However the end of the dot-com era has affected careers, and qualifications and certification are much more important than they used to be.  Your job, as well as your professional standing, may be dependent on certification.

Certification is here to stay, and is likely to gain in importance over the next years, as new technologies develop.  You cannot afford to ignore certification if you are going to progress in IT. If you think you are certifiable, you‘d be mad not to consider an appropriate qualification in IT!

Sources
-  Netwind Learning center 
-  HP Services course offerings 
-  Today’s trends in Technical education by Alexis Gross, April 2003 
Microsoft Celebrates 10 years of Success with Microsoft Certified Professionals Press Release April 2002 
-  U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2004-05 Career Guide to Industries
- Course.com

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