Top 10 IT Certifications in the U.S.

Brian Carlson | Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Top 10 IT Certifications in the U.S.

Starting a career in tech right out of school or later in life as a second career has never been easier, thanks to virtual IT training and certification programs available for the top platforms. 

Businesses looking to spark a digital transformation are implementing new software in their company to jumpstart the scaling of their operations, which fuels the demand for qualified IT specialists in cybersecurity, data science and cloud architecture, among other essential disciplines in the tech industry. But the talent pool for qualified specialists is shallow. 

Rather than only hiring new talent, many companies are also looking internally to upskill their current workforce. Virtual IT training courses are the ideal solution for companies and government institutions to get the whole team on the same page. Specifically, group training is a great solution for companies that are implementing new software to be used in daily operations. This saves time on hiring the right people and instills confidence that the team will be able to support each other if issues arise in the roll out of cloud computing, cybersecurity and other facets of a digital transformation. Group training also empowers the employees a business already trusts, and enables the company to reward them with a higher salary through specialization. 

For a young professional beginning their career or a tenured worker looking to switch careers, an IT certification course is the best way to learn the essential skills of each tech discipline. This is especially true when you have an instructor guiding you through the training material versus learning it on your own. An instructor will explain the material in small, digestible chunks, and ensure you have a good grasp of the core principles before moving on to the next module.

Listed below are the top 10 IT certifications that teach the in-demand skills hiring managers at American businesses are looking for on resumes.

The Top IT Certifications in the U.S.

Computer systems design is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. According to a report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 15% rise in employment in systems design is expected until at least 2022.

As part of the increasing demand for systems design, other skills such as cybersecurity and cloud computing have become essential. In fact, IT professionals with expertise in these two fields are often the highest paid in the industry.

Investing the time to complete an IT certification from a reputable vendor can bring you more job security and opportunities for advancement, earn you a higher salary and help you learn the industry's most innovative technologies.

1) AWS Certified Solutions Architect

As one of the most popular and lucrative cloud certifications in the tech industry, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect is one of the most valuable certifications to have on your resume, especially in enterprise businesses. Having this certification demonstrates your ability to design and deploy scalable cloud infrastructure on AWS (Amazon Web Services).

By enrolling in this AWS certification program, you will gain hands-on experience with deployment, study the principles of building on the AWS cloud platform and learn how to follow cybersecurity best practices. In essence, an AWS Certified Solutions Architect is the point person in an organization to resolve any issues related to the AWS cloud platform.

To become an AWS Certified Solutions Architect, you must pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam and obtain the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification. It is recommended to have at least a year of experience with AWS before taking the exam. 

2) Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect

The Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architect is another certification that commands a competitive salary. An IT professional with this certification helps a company use Google Cloud technologies to their full potential, as this accreditation teaches the core components and complexity of Google Cloud architecture. Google Cloud Certified Professional Cloud Architects are responsible for designing cloud solution architecture, analyzing systems processes, managing the implementation of cloud architecture, ensuring solution reliability and developing secure cloud infrastructure.

To earn this certification, you must pass an exam designed to test technical skills and comprehension. At least one year of hands-on experience is recommended before taking it. After completion, the average Google Cloud–certified professional can land a six-figure salary after a few years. 

3) AWS Certified Developer

The AWS Certified Developer certification is ideal for IT professionals who have several years of hands-on experience when it comes to developing, deploying and debugging cloud-based applications. Possessing in-depth knowledge of one or more high-level programming languages, the ability to use a CI/CD pipeline to deploy applications and a familiarity with AWS cybersecurity and containers in the development process is recommended.

The AWS Certified Developer certification demonstrates proficiency in developing cloud-based applications using AWS as well as a deep understanding of AWS and its architecture. 

4) Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Server Infrastructure

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certification demonstrates proficiency in creating and operating a data center. It teaches identity management, virtualization, data storage, systems management and networking. Typically, professionals who pursue this certification have a minimum of two years of hands-on experience. This certification requires the passing of five exams and it must be retaken every three years. 

Many career opportunities are associated with earning this certification, such as IT manager or systems administrator. Professionals who are up to date in MCSE Server Infrastructure are highly sought after in the tech world.

5) Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

A Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification demonstrates the skills required to design and manage a company's information security. CISM accreditation also teaches and strengthens the qualifications necessary for leadership roles in IT, as well as overall expertise in information security governance, program development and risk management.

To earn this advanced certification, you must pass an extensive exam — that must be retaken every few years — and have at least five years of relevant experience in the field of information security. CISM-certified professionals are hired for positions such as information security manager and IT consultant.

6) Project Management Professional (PMP)

As one of the top certifications for project managers, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the hallmark of a professional having all the skills and experience necessary to plan and deliver large projects. This respected certification is often the deciding factor between two potential candidates for a project management position job because it demonstrates knowledge of the latest techniques and platforms and shows a solid foundation of experience when it comes to managing projects as well as a project team.

To earn a PMP certification, you must pass an exam and complete at least 35 hours of PMP course training. Those with a bachelor's degree (or higher) must prove they have had at least 4,500 hours of project management experience, while those without a bachelor's degree must demonstrate at least 7,500 hours of experience. The average certification holder is most likely to have a job as a project manager or other IT management positions.

7) CompTIA Security+

Recognized and respected worldwide, the CompTIA Security+ certification validates that you have the appropriate necessary hands-on skills to perform core cybersecurity functions, including risk management and mitigation, threat management and intrusion detection. A CompTIA Security+ certification teaches you how to detect cyber threats and attacks, conduct penetration testing, configure and deploy network components, implement a secure architecture, install and configure access controls and set up wireless security settings and public key infrastructure.

To earn this certification, you must attend virtual labs and watch training and webinars. The exam must be retaken every three years to renew the certification. Certification holders usually enter careers as a security administrator, security engineer or IT auditor and penetration tester.

8) ITIL Foundation

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) certification demonstrates skills in service strategy, design, transition and operation. The certification covers all areas of the service lifecycle, including how stages are linked, and it can help boost a company's productivity and create a better customer experience. Ultimately, an ITIL certification broadens your skills in IT service management to strive for continuous improvement of IT products and services.

There are no prerequisites to take the exam, but in order to obtain an ITIL certification, you must pass the exam for the desired certification level: foundation, practitioner, intermediate, expert and master. Potential career paths for those with an ITIL certification include informational technology director, service delivery manager and information technology manager.

9) Google Certified Professional Associate Cloud Engineer

The Google Certified Professional Associate Cloud Engineer certification is for those who want to learn the intricacies of public cloud computing. By obtaining this certification, you will learn how to deploy applications, monitor multiple projects and ensure solutions are aligned with business performance goals. You will also gain experience in using managed services on Google Cloud by utilizing the command-line interface to perform tasks.

To earn this certification, you must pass an exam that tests your ability to set up a cloud solution environment, configure access controls and ensure the operational maintenance of a cloud-based infrastructure. It is recommended to have at least six months of experience in building cloud infrastructure on Google Cloud and at least three years of relevant industry experience before enrolling in the certification program. Passing this exam opens doors to careers in cloud engineering and related fields.

10) Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is an entry-level certification that teaches you how to install, configure and operate enterprise-level routers and switches, as well as how to detect and provide quick solutions to network issues. This certification is ideal for a young IT professional who wants to kick-start their career in networking by studying the fundamentals. In fact, CCNA certification is one of the key requirements many hiring managers look for when filling positions in their IT department. 

To earn a CCNA certification, you must complete a 90-minute written exam. Common job titles for professionals with this certification include system administrator, network administrator and network engineer. 

IT certifications are the key to starting a new career in using some of the most advanced technologies available on the market. Taking the time and making the financial commitment to complete a certification program will teach you the in-demand IT skills that companies are looking for. An investment in learning cybersecurity, networking, cloud computing and project management is a great solution for providing long-term career stability and commanding a higher wage. IT certifications are also helpful when you’re in the running for a job opening, as hiring managers know it can take several attempts, several exams and/or several years to earn them. Certification is a testament to your dedication and the hard work you put in. 

If you would like to take your IT skills to the next level and take advantage of the great opportunities in the tech industry, enroll in an individual or group training certification program through ExitCertified. Since 2001, ExitCertified has been a leader in providing in-class and virtual training courses on the top platforms to IT professionals and businesses. All training courses are 100% vendor-approved and guaranteed to put you on the path to a rewarding career in IT.

To learn more about ExitCertified’s certification programs, please explore our IT certification paths.

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