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Certifications in Computer Systems

Get information on the certifications available to computer systems professionals. See where to find training programs, including online courses, and explore what the programs cover.

What Certifications Are There in Computer Systems?

Software companies and independent organizations offer a range of computer systems certifications. For example, the Computing Technology Industry Association, better known as CompTIA, offers nearly a dozen certifications, including A+, Linux+, Project+ and Network+. These groups often offer study materials and online courses that can help you prepare for certifying exams. Additionally, they might offer courses in classroom settings in partnership with schools and training centers; however, most of these programs are conducted by for-profit agencies.

Some not-for-profit community colleges, technical schools and universities also offer online or on-campus certification prep programs. In many cases, these programs aren't officially affiliated with the certifying organization, but they can give you the training you need to pass the exams.

Certifications Available Linux+, Network+, A+, Project +, and others
Key Topics Discussed Depends upon chosen certification; A+ program covers operating systems, networks, troubleshooting, hardware installation, and security
Online Learning Environment Online training material is provided through a variety of organizations, including schools and other learning institutions
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 7% decline for computer programmers
Median Salary (May 2018)* $84,280 for computer programmers

Source: *US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Are the Training Courses Like?

Typically, you can find courses that teach you about a particular certification, such as CompTIA A+ or CompTIA Linux+. If you take the training course through a college or university, you might be able to receive academic credit toward a degree. Campus-based training programs typically include a lot of hands-on work in a computer lab.

The coursework depends on the certification you're seeking. For example, an A+ program is likely to cover hardware installation, operating systems, networks, security and troubleshooting, while a Linux program will teach you to install, maintain and fix Linux systems. You also can find programs specific to Microsoft Windows operating systems.

How Do I Learn Online?

You can access online computer systems training courses through certifying organizations, schools and other learning institutions. Study materials, such as books and assessments, are available over the Internet, too. If you choose online courses offered by a school, you may have to adhere to its term schedules, and you'll likely receive access to software exercises via the Web.

The courses offered by certifying organizations cover the information you'll need to pass the exams for certification. You're usually given six months to complete the courses but can work at your own pace during that time frame. You can register for more than one course if you'd like certification in a couple areas. Upon completion, you'll generally purchase a voucher for testing at a site near your home.

What is the Job Outlook and Salary?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for computer programmers is $84,280 as of May 2018. Overall employment for the field is expected to decline 7% by the BLS because computer programming can be done anywhere in the world hence companies opt to hire programmers from countries where salaries are lower.