Last updated on November 28th, 2021 at 09:01 am
With a never-ending list of growing certifications, the Information Technology field is ripe with options. Here are the best IT certifications for 2020.
- For Beginners
- For the Lightly Experienced
- For the Highly Experienced
- Final Thoughts
The Best IT Certifications for 2020
There are plenty of great reasons to get certified when you’re an IT professional. But with new technologies emerging every day and a continuous stream of certificates issued by a variety of authorities, which one is the right one for you? Well, that largely depends on what your goals are, so let’s get into it.
If you’re just entering into your IT career, certificates that represent the foundation of the field are a great place to start. Luckily, this is one area where year-to-year not much changes on the available certifications employers are looking for.
At the beginning of your career, you can expect to crush phones on a helpdesk for a year or two before you get a chance to move up to anything at a higher level.
Now if you’re just graduating from college with a degree in Information Technology, you might think there’s no need for a basic entry-level certification. As it turns out, sometimes these are hardline requirements by employers and you simply cannot be considered for a job without one – so it’s better to have it and not need it, than to not have it and find out you need it when a job opportunity comes by that requires it.
For beginners, these are the best IT certifications for 2020.
A+ Certification by CompTIA
The A+ Certification by CompTIA has long been the standard for entry-level IT professionals, and it remains so today. The certification requires you to pass 2 separate exams and has no prerequisites. It’s frequently a hard requirement for many entry-level IT jobs including Service Desk Analysts, Help Desk Techs and Field Service Technicians.
While it’s entry-level, that doesn’t mean you can pass the exams without studying. The content isn’t deep but it covers a very wide breadth of technologies and vendors. You’ll be tested on your knowledge of hardware, operating systems, software, and a host of other things.
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) Certification
Microsoft’s MTA Certification actually gives you a bunch of different options. While all MTA certifications come with the same overarching title, each one focuses on a different technology.
As an example, you could obtain the Windows Server Administration Fundamentals Certification if you plan on becoming a System Administrator or you could obtain the Security Fundamentals Certification if you want to move more in the direction of cybersecurity.
Obviously, the certifications focus their content almost exclusively on your knowledge of Microsoft products, which might leave you at a disadvantage if you’re trying to get a job in a mixed environment.
Information Technology Infrastructure Library Foundation (ITIL) Certification
Frequently overlooked by IT professionals, theis a concept-based credential that focuses on continuous improvement of the entire IT process as it relates to business. Sound abstract? While it’s less technical than other certifications, it helps IT professionals maintain focus on what’s important to their employers: the bottom line.
You’ll be tested on your knowledge of best practices such as how multiple-tier service desks are supposed to work. ITIL principles transcend the IT world and can be used in any industry where continuous improvement provides an operational benefit.
If you’re still confused, here’s an example:
- A customer calls the helpdesk for a problem.
- The helpdesk, which is tier 1, tries to solve the issue but can’t figure it out so they send the ticket to the tier 2 technicians.
- The tier 2 technicians dig deep, find the solution, and fix the customer’s problem.
- The tier 2 technicians document the resolution steps and then send that to tier 1.
In this example, the helpdesk now how has the information they need to fix an issue that they originally did not have. The next time a customer calls with the same issue, it can be fixed on the first call instead of having to go up to the next tier of support. This continuous improvement cycle is defined as an ITIL process and helps increase efficiency for both the customer and the business.
For the Lightly Experienced
Now if you have a few years of experience under your belt and you’re interested in what certifications might be good for you, there’s more to choose from. At this point in your career, you might be thinking of a direction or specialization and your choices reflect that.
For intermediate IT professionals, here are the best IT certifications for 2020.
Depending on your industry, the Network+ Certification may be considered entry-level, but I placed it in this section because it’s definitely a higher level certification than the A+ offered by CompTIA.
The Network+ Certification demonstrates knowledge of networking concepts, network security, & network infrastructure. If you plan on going into the networking arm of the IT world, then this certification is definitely for you.
Another one from the vendor CompTIA, the Security+ Certification is a standard for anyone over and above the basic helpdesk. Technically, it’s considered to be a higher-level certification than the Network+, and you’d do well to have both of them in your list of certs.
The Security+ is a good certification to have if you plan on going into System Administration or Network Administration as a career path. It covers aspects important to both, and obviously it’s a requirement for my Cyber Security careers.
Microsoft Certified Associate – multiple variations available
The Microsoft Certification Program is globally renowned as a standard among IT certifications. Microsoft has changed its certification program significantly over the years and navigating the options can be complicated.
The Microsoft Certified Associate program currently has over 50 different certification choices, each with different exam and knowledge requirements. It covers everything from Microsoft Office Programs to Azure.
For the Highly Experienced
For experienced professionals, there’s a good chance you already know what you need. But if not, here’s a good place to start to find the best IT certifications in 2020.
CompTIA CASP+ – Certified Advanced Security Practitioner
CompTIA’s CASP+ Certification is a high-level cybersecurity credential that demonstrates your ability to actually do cybersecurity work rather than just talk about it. The exam includes actual activities (not just multiple-choice) which will test your skills in the security hardening of IT systems.
For advanced cybersecurity knowledge, the CISSP by ISC2 is the gold-standard. It’s a step above the CASP+ and significantly more difficult to acquire. This is not an exam you just go take and pass; it takes dedication and preparation and it also requires 5 verifiable years of work experience in the areas covered by the certification.
The CISSP is appropriate for high-level IT professionals carrying titles such as Chief Information Security Officer, Director of Security, & IT Director/Manager.
Whether you’re a fresh recruit into the IT industry or a seasoned veteran with many years of experience under your belt, keeping your skills sharp and up to date is critical to the health of your career.
Certifications not only help to maintain and increase your market value, but they also work as a mechanism to ensure you are accountable to yourself to continue growing and learning.