Certified IT Professional Certification: Salary and Career Facts

Learn what it takes to earn professional certification in information technology. Find out about the types of certifications offered by software companies, and learn how certification can help your career. Schools offering Industrial Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

IT professional certificates are offered by a number of computer companies, each focusing on a different programming language and skill-set. You can complete some of the preparatory work for these certifications online, but the exams must be taken in person. Many of the certifications require you to renew your standing every three years, allowing you to stay up-to-date in the skills required for your career.

Certifications Microsoft Certified IT Professional, Cisco Certified Network Associate and CompTIA's A+ certification
Responsibilities Building and maintaining network databases and IT customer support
Average Salary (2014) $82,280 (for all Database Administrators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are Some of the Top IT Certifications?

Companies like Microsoft, Cisco and CompTIA offer certifications that many employers consider to be industry standards. These certifications include the Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) designation, the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) designation and CompTIA's A+ designation.

What Do the Microsoft Certifications Involve?

Earning the MCITP designation shows employers you're proficient with Microsoft technologies and can perform certain tasks, such as database administration and enterprise messaging administration, within a Microsoft-based environment. MCITP certifications include Enterprise Desktop Support Technician 7, Database Developer, Server Administrator and Enterprise Administrator. MCITP certifications build on the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) designation, so you'll probably need to earn at least one MCTS certification prior to earning the MCITP certification.

The MCTS designations show expertise in Microsoft Exchange Server, SQL Server, MS Visual Studio and Windows operating systems. Renewing your MCITP certification isn't required, but you may need to upgrade if Microsoft ceases support for MCITP-related technologies, as they've done in the past with other technologies.

What About the Other Certifications?

Earning the CCNA designation shows employers you can set up, run and troubleshoot moderately sized networks. The CCNA exam covers topics such as network security, basic routing and switching, TCP/IP models and IP traffic management. You won't need to meet any prerequisites to earn the CCNA certification, but you will have to renew your certification every three years. You can recertify by passing an up-to-date exam administered by Cisco.

The A+ certification is widely pursued by computer support techs and may even be required by some top employers. To earn A+ certification, you'll take both a theory-based exam and a practical exam that includes hands-on exercises. The theory-based exam will evaluate your ability to perform the required tasks in an entry-level computer support position. These tasks include installation, troubleshooting, security, networking and preventive maintenance.

Your A+ certification must be renewed every three years. As an alternative to certification renewal, you could participate in CompTIA's Continuing Education Program, which allows you to maintain your certification without the need for renewal through ongoing study.

Can I Earn an IT Certification Online?

You can't earn an IT certification online, but you can prepare for the exams online. You'll have to take the exam at an approved testing center. Many colleges and universities offer certificate programs that address the same topics covered on the exams. Such programs aren't required for certification eligibility, but they are helpful in that they give you an idea of what to expect when you take the test.

What Will Earning an IT Certification Do for My Career?

Earning certification can open the door to additional job opportunities. In fact, some employers may actually require you to seek certification, so you might have a tough time finding a job without it. Also, you can use IT certifications, along with any job experience you may have, to qualify for positions if you lack formal education. In other words, your IT certification and on-the-job experience can take the place of the college education some employers seek in applicants.

What Will My Career Involve?

Depending on the certification you complete, you may go on to find employment as a database administrator. In this career, you would be responsible for creating and maintaining a network database in a number of situations. You may end up working with the physical support of the database, or with applications based tasks, depending on your training.

Database administrators earned an average salary of $82,280 in 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also predicated a 15% job growth in this field from 2012-2022 (www.bls.com).

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