In the ever-changing world of IT, certifications can provide you with that much-needed competitive edge when applying for a new job. Apart from being an official proof of your skills, they also let hiring managers know you’re proactive and take self-improvement seriously.
Let's check what certifications are in high demand right now and what skills you need to demonstrate to obtain them.
Best Entry-Level IT Certifications
- CompTIA Security+
- CompTIA A+
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ (ITF+)
- PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
- Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner
- Microsoft 365 Fundamentals
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
1. CompTIA Security+
With increased numbers of cyberattacks during the pandemic and all the security vulnerabilities that work from home inevitably brings, cybersecurity professionals are more in demand than ever before. Getting security IT certifications online also prepares you for many other IT professions, since data and user protection are essential in many other branches of the IT industry.
With IT security certifications in hand, you can apply for the positions of a security specialist, consultant, system, network, and security administrator, junior IT auditor, and security engineer, among many others.
CompTIA’s Security+ is among the top 10 IT certifications for future cybersecurity experts. The exam puts your skills of installing and configuring systems to protect apps, devices, and networks to the test. You’ll deal with mitigation techniques, cryptography, and threat analysis and will also be required to show your knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations. The exam lasts for 90 minutes, during which you’ll have to answer up to 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions. It’s recommended to accumulate at least two years of IT security administration experience prior to taking the test.
It's one of the top IT certifications since it complies with ISO 17024 standards and the Department of Defense security criteria.
2. CompTIA A+
Price: $232 per exam
The CompTIA A+ certification is one of the best information technology certifications a future field service technician, help desk support specialist, and desktop support analyst can have on their IT resume. For people looking to enter the IT field, this is the golden entrance ticket.
As one of the most valuable IT certifications, CompTIA A+ validates your ability to identify and connect hardware, install and configure desktop and mobile operating systems, troubleshoot networks and devices, and much more.
CompTIA A+ consists of two exams - Core 1 and Core 2 - and both need to be completed to earn the certification. Just like CompTIA Security+, each of these exams takes 90 minutes to complete and has a maximum of 90 questions. A 9 to 12 months-long experience is preferable but not a requirement. Apart from English, this test can be taken in several other languages: German, Japanese, Thai, Spanish, and Portuguese. Like most top IT certifications, it isn’t free - each exam costs $232.
3. Cisco Certified Network Associate
Communication technology giant Cisco offers three basic IT certifications - CCT Collaboration, CCT Data Center, and CCT Routing and Switching - while the Cisco Certified Network Associate is one step above, being classified as an associate-level exam.
The CCNA exam tests your knowledge of network and security basics, IP connectivity, network access, IP services, programmability, and automation. New applicants will have a chance to learn all about intent-based networking, APIs and programmability, and multidomain solutions.
4. CompTIA Network+
CompTIA’s Network+ certifications are among the most popular IT certifications for beginners. They make an excellent introduction to entry-level tech jobs and constantly evolve to stay up to date with market trends. The CompTIA Network+ certification validates your skills of installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting business networks, working with network tools and operations, and taking care of the network security and IT infrastructure.
People who apply for this certification usually aspire to work as junior system engineers, network field technicians, junior network administrators, network field engineers, cable technicians, and IT consultants.
Having up to a year of networking experience is desirable for these IT certifications, but not mandatory.
5. CompTIA IT Fundamentals+
Are you considering a career in IT but aren’t sure it’s the right path to take? Or are you an advanced end-user looking to develop a better understanding of IT? If your answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” perhaps CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ the IT certification you should get.
Knowing your way around operating systems, securing network connections, keeping systems protected from cyberattacks, and using integral software apps are all skills put to the test and validated in this 60-minute exam that requires no previous experience.
6. PMI Certified Associate in Project Management
Price: $225 (member), $300 (non-member)
With the IT sector experiencing continuous expansion throughout the last few decades, even into the pandemic, there are more active tech projects than ever before. Every IT company needs a project manager, someone who will steer and oversee new software development and coordinate the whole team.
The PMI course for the Certified Associate in Project Management will teach you all the project management skills you’ll need for your new project-oriented role. The three-hour-long exam has 150 questions, and there are two prerequisites to taking it: You need to have a secondary degree (a high school diploma, for example) and 23 hours of project management education. Luckily, the Project Management Institute offers an online course you can complete to fulfill the second requirement.
7. Cisco Certified Technician
One of the IT certifications that pay well in the long term is that of a Cisco Certified Technician. The exam validates your knowledge to analyze, fix, replace, and restore vital computing servers and system devices. Course applicants will also learn about the Cisco UCS and NX-OS networking software. When you select this certification, you can choose among three subcertifications, focused on data centers, collaboration, and routing & switching.
The Route & Switch certification is suitable for those who wish to work on maintaining Cisco routers, operating environments, and switches.
As one of the best certifications for IT jobs, the Data Center certification focuses on skills needed to provide on-site support for Cisco’s unified computer systems and servers. Those who wish to earn this certification need to learn to troubleshoot Cisco UCS, NX-OS operating modes, and standard software.
There are no formal prerequisites for any of the CCT certifications, but bear in mind that the certificate expires after three years.
8. Systems Security Certified Practitioner
Another one of basic IT certifications comes from the (ISC)2 Systems. If you’re interested in becoming a security administrator, security analyst, security consultant or specialist, or system engineer, this certification certainly merits your attention.
It proves your skills with access controls, security administration, risk identification, and analysis. Like all must-have IT certifications, SSCP focuses on several interconnected skills: incident response and recovery, cryptography, communications, network security, and app and system security. The exam lasts up to three hours, during which you’ll have to answer 125 questions.
You'll need at least one year of experience in one of several security administrator positions to apply for this course. If you’re not sure this exam is the right one for you, you can use the handy (ISC)2 Qualification Pathfinder tool to find the best (ISC)2 certification for your selected career path.
9. Microsoft 365 Fundamentals
This certification is one of the top ten IT certifications for beginners since 365 programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are used everywhere. A Microsoft certification for 365 Fundamentals confirms that you fully comprehend core Microsoft 365 features, understand and can explain all the benefits of using Microsoft 365 cloud service, and are acquainted and can describe the pricing plans and support system.
That’s not all, as this certification attests to your proficiency in working with cloud services in general, Microsoft 365 cloud services, and the Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud model. Microsoft Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint are some of the products that rely on cloud technology.
10. Certified Ethical Hacker
Price: Up to $1,199
If you feel inspired by exciting but mostly inaccurate Hollywood movies about hackers, this is one of the certifications in IT that can help you kick off your career as a white hat hacker. This certification from EC-Council will validate your skills in locating and identifying computer system vulnerabilities.
With this knowledge, you’ll be able to assess the company’s system protection against potential cyberattacks. You’ll do this by running system penetration tests on the company’s devices to identify security shortcomings. After performing tests, you can work on creating preventive, corrective, and protective countermeasures.
Getting IT certifications such as this one requires some previous working experience in the relevant field. In the case of CEH, you need to have two years of experience in the information security domain or complete the EC-Council training program.
As for the exam itself, you’ll have four hours to answer 125 multiple-choice questions. The exam itself is the priciest on our list, going between $950 and $1,199.
Best Certification Programs for Experienced IT Professionals
Seasoned IT professionals know better than anyone that adaptability is the key to success in the constantly evolving tech field. These handpicked best IT certifications for 2021 will ensure you stay competitive in this highly demanding and ever-changing market.
- Microsoft Certified Power Platform App Maker Associate
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
- Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
- Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate
- ISACA Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization (VCP - DCV)
- Google Certified Professional Data Engineer
- Nutanix Certified Professional - Multicloud Infrastructure (NCP - MCI)
1. Microsoft Certified Power Platform App Maker Associate
This certification is a perfect choice for future app development professionals, business and system analysts, and Microsoft Power Platform users. IT certifications like this one validate the knowledge needed to create products that’ll automate and simplify processes and tasks for teams.
Since businesses today rely on analyzing massive chunks of data harvested from clients, partners, suppliers, and so forth to provide a better service, it’s no wonder this certificate has been gaining in popularity lately. Microsoft’s Power Platform is an environment designed for quickly developing specific applications your business needs.
One of the best IT business certifications available confirms that you know how to design and make automated workflows and apps, analyze and visualize data. You’ll also work with Microsoft’s Dataverse platform, 365 Office bundle, Dynamic 365, SQL server, and more.
Business environment experience is not mandatory here but will help tremendously. You should be well-versed in the basic principles of UX design, Microsoft Teams, and Excel PivotTables. Knowing Visual Basic for Applications is also a huge plus. Those who pass the two-hour exam will get one of the highest-paid IT certifications on the market.
2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
As one of the most popular cloud platforms, Amazon Web Services has been around since 2005, and the demand for AWS Solution Architects has never been so high. If you’re looking for a high-paid tech job, this may well be the certification you need to jumpstart your career. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certification proves that you have the skills to create and implement distributed systems on AWS.
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certification is one of the top-paying IT certifications. However, unlike AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner, it’s not an entry-level certification: It’s recommended that you first spend at least one year implementing solutions and solving problems using the AWS platform. The exam takes 130 minutes and has 65 questions.
3. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Google cloud architects create and manage sophisticated, scalable, and modular solutions for this widely used cloud computing platform.
To earn this valuable certification, candidates must prove they are up to the tasks of designing secure and robust Google cloud solutions, implementing cloud architecture, and analyzing and improving the existing technical and business processes.
The exam lasts for two hours and can be taken in English or Japanese. You should have at least three years of experience working in the IT industry and one year of experience with creating and managing Google Cloud solutions.
4. Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate
Microsoft Azure is a top-rated cloud computing package, with over 600 services available. With Azure Administrator Associate certification, you'll know all about managing, deploying, configuring, and monitoring the Azure environment.
Azure is becoming increasingly popular, and there aren’t enough people with the administrator know-how for it, which is why it's one of the most in-demand IT certifications. It is a very responsible position, and the participation requirements for the course are high.
5. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
ISACA offers outstanding IT security courses based on the latest tech findings. Once you finish this course and get certified, you'll be able to find, analyze, and control any potential risks to the system you’re managing.
Getting the most complete and latest knowledge in risk management means ISACA users will learn about risk response, mitigation, control, monitoring, and risk reporting. Participants also gain access to its global community that acts as an education repository. These things make CRISC stand out among the many different IT certifications.
6. Certified Information Systems Security Professional
You can never have enough cybersecurity knowledge or skills, which is why we included the CISSP course on the list. It is perfect for IT professionals who want to work as chief information security officers, security system engineers, or network architects.
The exam will test your risk-management, asset security, communication, network security, and security assessment and testing skills. This certificate meets the Department of Defense criteria, as many other (ISC)2 certifications do.
CISSP is one of the most important IT certifications out there, and the participation requirements are strict, so make sure you’re ready to devote enough time to acquire it.
7. Project Management Professional
The Project Management Professional is one of the management certifications that is regarded highly in the IT community. The exam will test your leadership skills and experience with overseeing a project until its completion to the satisfaction of both developers and clients.
PMP is one of the best IT certifications to have as a confirmation of your soft skills, but the course will also prepare you for the technical process of managing projects, and add agile, predictive (waterfall), and hybrid skills to your management arsenal.
To sign up for this exam, you'll need to fulfill one of two requirements. If you have a four-year degree, you'll need three years of leading projects and 35 hours of project management training or CAPM® Certification. Otherwise, to qualify for the course preceding one of the most recommended IT certifications, people with a high-school diploma must have five years of experience with project leading and 35 hours of PM education or CAPM® Certification.
8. VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization
With this certificate, you'll learn how to set up and regulate a VMWare Vsphere platform. vSphere is a cloud computing infrastructure that can provide a secure and robust business foundation.
This cloud-computing certificate stands out because participants also learn to supervise systems as they transition to cloud computing and automate operations.
As one of the most useful IT certifications, the VCP-DCV certificate has strict requirements: Participants need to complete one course or more from authorized training providers to get it, and also need at least six months of vSphere experience.
9. Google Certified Professional Data Engineer
Data engineers continue to be the most sought-after IT profession. An IT professional in this branch creates and maintains data processing systems, with a focus on compliance, security, interchangeability, and reliability.
Google’s certifications for professional data engineers are highly valued across all IT fields. You will learn how to create data processing systems and machine learning, provide and secure solution quality, and maintain data systems. In a more practical sense, if you get one of Google’s data engineer IT certifications, your salary prospects will greatly improve.
It is recommended to have at least three years of experience in the field, with one year dedicated to working with Google Cloud.
10. Nutanix Certified Professional - Multicloud Infrastructure
Nutanix is an infrastructure platform for developing private clouds. Nutanix-certified professionals are cloud specialists, so those who apply for this certificate will learn about administrating a Nutanix Cluster and optimizing virtualized infrastructure and workloads in AOS.
This is one of certifications for IT system management that are necessary for working with Nutanix-based platforms and will make you brush up on all relevant skills. The fields it touches on are administration, storage management, data protection, general security, and workload management.