Top 10 IT Certificates Companies Want To See On Your Resume12:20 PM EST Fri. Dec. 07, 2012
According to the Monster.com report "United States Information Technology 2012 Job Conditions: Insights and Analysis from Professionals, Recruiters and Hiring Managers," 43 percent of IT job seekers have 10-plus years of work experience, and 63 percent hold Bachelor's degrees. How can a candidate stand out? Certificates.
"Certificates are golden," said Mark Bier, founding principal at VAR Staffing, a Richardson, Texas, agency that specializes in IT channel staffing and recruitment.
"If we have two candidates and one has the experience and one has the certification, generally the VARs will want to speak to the certified candidate first," Todd Billiar, director of channel development, added.
As part of a series exploring IT job growth and hiring trends in the channel, this week CRN spoke with VAR Staffing to find out which IT certificates their clients ask for most.
The Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification, which replaced the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE) certificate, is considered a standard among solution providers. "That is becoming more and more prevalent," Bier said. "It's kind of becoming the baseline for your field engineer."
The exam costs between $100 and $150, depending on your technical area of certification and geographic region. But, again, it's worth the time and money, Bier said. "A lot of the MSPs we work with, they want them to have the MCITP, because that's the [person] going out assessing the system. From a systems side and server side, that's what our clients are looking for. ... You want your engineer to be certified." Specifically, Bier recommended the MCITP: Enterprise Administrator on Windows Server 2008 specialization. "It's definitely in demand," he said.
When it comes to storage architects/engineers, certificates haven't always been the key to getting hired. "It's less about the certs and more about the skill set when it comes to storage," Bier said. However, the need for storage architects/engineers has been on the rise. As it grows, storage certificates have become a distinguishing marker on resumes.
"The two biggest storage players are EMC and NetApp, which both have certs," Bier said. And, he recommends the EMC Proven Professional certification and the NetApp Certified Data Management Administrators certification. "In the larger VAR space, we see the demand for the EMC. And, for the midtier we see more of the NetApp and others." And as HP has been gaining more ground in the storage space, so too has the HP Certified Professional certifications. "Although HP's certification is not necessarily specific to storage, storage is one of multiple specialties, we've seen an uptick in the number of clients asking for the Storage MSA."
With everything moving to the cloud, the need for virtualization architects/engineers has increased. And when it comes to virtualization, VMware takes the cake. "VMware is the gold standard. And, then under that you have Citrix and Microsoft Hyper-V making a push," Billiar said.
Although VAR Staffing has had requests from clients for IT professionals with Microsoft's MCITP Virtualization Administrator certificate, the VMware Certified Professional (VCP) and Citrix Certified Integration Architect (CCIA) for Virtualization dominate. "The two major virtualization certs are the VMware certs and the Citrix CCIA," Bier said. "You can't have a big data environment without a virtualization solution, which is VMware."
"Where we see more [demand for] the Citrix [certification] is in the remote desktop or application delivery vs. the data center/server virtualization," Billiar said.
Cisco still dominates the networking world, and the need for Cisco UC architects/engineers continues to climb. And according to VAR Staffing, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is their No. 1 in-demand certificate. "When we're looking for a network architect, that is the most tangible cert out there," Bier said. "If you're a network engineer, and you want to be at the top in your class and be considered an elite network engineer, you'll need to get your CCIE. There are three major disciplines on CCIE: You'll either be a CCIE voice [unified communications], routing and switching [database] or security [protocol]. Cisco touches everything in the networking world."
And, according to Cisco, less than 3 percent of all certified Cisco professionals hold the CCIE, comprising less than 1 percent of the networking professionals worldwide. "There's only 30,000 or so CCIEs out there in the whole world, and these are the highest level of network architects," Bier said. And that means with the CCIE, you'll get "top dollar," he said.
The CompTIA A+ is the most basic of certifications, demonstrating general computer service technician competency. Although it is the only non-major vendor-specific certification, Dell, Intel and Lenovo require it for service techs, according to CompTIA.
"CompTIA is an organization that kind of got their start doing certification testing before everyone else," Bier said. "They have different special interest groups, but the CompTIA A+ has kind of always been the gold standard."
The CompTIA A+ certificate is especially useful for positions ranging from IT support technicians, administrators and specialists to technical support specialists and field service technicians. The CompTIA exam costs about $178, which Bier said is an investment. "That is a cert that is a lot more affordable to achieve to get your foot in the door to the solution provider world."
Although the CompTIA A+ certificate is useful, if you want to take the next step in your IT career, Bier recommends checking out CompTIA's specialty certificates as well. "If you're looking to get into IT support, they've got a Server+ and a Security+, which are great entry-level certs to get your foot in the door."
The CompTIA Security+ certification, for example, covers a wide range of security areas: cryptography, network security, compliance and operational security, application, data and host security, threats and vulnerabilities, access control and identity management. And, with job growth in the IT security sector heating up, especially for security solutions architects, the $286 for the cost of the Security+ exam is a drop in the bucket.