IT certifications are important for both entry-level employees and specialized IT professionals. For entry-level employees, certifications show that the employee has the working knowledge to complete their job. Even if an employee has a degree in an IT-related field, an employer may question whether they are truly up-to-date on current technologies. Many schools teach theory and concept rather than applied science. Certifications test for a standard that employees need to meet.
For those who have experience but no education, a certification shows an employer that some formal learning has occurred and that there aren't any gaps in the employee's knowledge. Self-trained IT professionals may find it difficult to get a job despite having relevant experience because they can't prove that they know the new systems that employers use.
Employees who have been in the industry for a long time can find themselves benefiting from certifications. Certifications prove modern knowledge; someone in the industry for 20 years can show that they know new technologies with certifications. Certifications also prove specialized knowledge; someone who is trying to move into another specialization or focus can show they are prepared using a certification.
There are many certifications out there, but the ones most important to you are going to be the ones that are focused on the area that you want a job. If you're interested in completing helpdesk work, you would be interested in a CompTIA A+ certification. If you're more interested in building and configuring networks, a CompTIA Network+ certification would be better. And if you like to work in security (one of the most highly paid focuses), you would want a CompTIA Security+ certification. If you are having trouble deciding on a certification, take our IT career quiz to help determine which career path you’re most likely to be successful at.
These certifications can also be combined or “stacked”. An entry-level IT professional could get both A+ and Network+ to show that they are well-rounded, while someone looking to enhance their networking career might want to get both Network+ and Security+ certification. Besides increased job opportunities and earning potential, the best part of stacking IT credentials is the fact that you can save hundreds of dollars on multiple certifications by taking them as part of a dual-certification IT training program.