Making Sense of IT Certifications

Ann All


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10 Certifications That Get You Hired

This top 10 list reflects the number of times certs were mentioned in job openings posted at as of April 1.

First, a confession: I've spent a big chunk of my morning reading about IT certifications, and for me, it was like eating a big and largely incomprehensible bowl of alphabet soup. But I tried to slog through it, as I think it's a perennially important topic for folks who want to ensure their skills remain relevant as they position themselves for career advancement in IT. And tech executives should be interested as well, since it helps give them a sense of what their peers are seeking in employees.


It all started when I saw a TechRepublic post by Erik Eckel, in which he updated a list of 10 best tech certifications published about a year-and-a-half ago. I wanted to see how his list compared with a couple we've published recently, both based on information from Eckel's new list is different from his original list and from ours, due to the fact that he chose to focus on what he calls "the largest contingent of IT professionals," those who serve small and medium-sized businesses.


That focus explains why some certs aren't on Eckel's new list. A good example is the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which shows up on both our 10 Tech Certifications That Will Get You Hired and Ten Tech Certs to Increase Earning Power lists. The first list was based on the number of times certifications were mentioned in Dice job listings, while the latter was based on a Dice Learning survey on the certs IT pros said helped them earn higher salaries. As I wrote last month, a highly-structured approach to ITIL doesn't work for all companies, including many small ones like a nonprofit with a seven-person IT staff I mentioned in my post. Yet as a reader commenting on Eckel's post noted, ITIL and/or another governance framework like COBIT may be necessary for IT pros hoping to advance into management positions at larger companies or government agencies.


Popular on both Dice lists and on Eckel's list are various Microsoft certifications. No surprise, since, as Eckel writes, "Microsoft's technologies rule the world." His list forgoes MCSA (Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator), MCSE (Microsoft Certififed Systems Engineer) and MCPD (Microsoft Certififed Professional Developer) in favor of Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) and Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) accreditations, as he believes they represent "the widest base of demand." They certainly seem better suited to his SMB focus.


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