Thursday, 21 January 2016

Top 5 certifications to kick-start your IT career in 2016


 By Sarah Morgan

The New Year is a time for resolutions and career aspirations. In 2016, if yours is to embark on a career in IT, getting certified is a brilliant way to do this. IT certifications prove and refine your skills and knowledge in IT. This will help you get the early breakthrough your IT career needs, giving it a kick-start for 2016. 
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong / freedigitalphotos.net

We’ve researched and complied the five best entry level certifications available and outlined the knowledge and skills each certification offers you. These cover the basics in IT hardware and software, networking, Windows Server and software development. These are highly popular and rewarding areas of IT and can be excellent starting points for many IT careers. Find out how they can be helpful for you and your future.

1. CompTIA A+


CompTIA’s A+ certification is the starting point of many great IT careers. It gives you a fundamental understanding of basic hardware, software, and networking concepts. A huge benefit of the A+ is the practical skills you learn through hands-on experience. This is critical early-on in your career, building the foundations of knowledge you’ll need now and in the future.

The A+ is a highly regarded entry level certification throughout the IT industry and is often a requirement for many entry-level IT job roles. This is the case in companies like Canon, HP and Dell for example. It is attractive to employers partly because it’s vendor neutral, making it applicable to whatever technology your employer is using, and because of the wide range of skills it covers. These skills will be the most up-to-date available due to CompTIA’s curriculum update in 2015. 

After achieving your A+ certification, you’ll be able conduct maintenance and setup of PCs, laptops, printers, mobile devices, network and operating systems. These versatile skills will help you secure your first job in IT like Computer Technician and IT Support, averaging salaries of between £20,000-£25,000 (all average salaries from itjobswatch.co.uk). 



2. CompTIA Network+


After your A+, you can advance on to CompTIA’s Network+ which, like it’s prerequisite, is recognised globally throughout the IT industry. This is the perfect certification to steer your career into networking as you’ll learn to configure and control vendor-neutral networking technologies. 

You’ll learn to manage, protect, maintain and configure wired and wireless devices in a network. It is these specialised networking skills that can give you an edge early in your career, helping you stand out from others starting their IT careers. You’ll be able to apply for roles like Network Support Technician with an average salary between £25,000-£30,000.



3. Microsoft MTA: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals


The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTAs) certifications are aimed at the entry-level in areas like networking, database, cloud and software development fundamentals. The MTA: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals teaches you the basics of installing and managing a server. This MTA is good for those looking to secure their first job in IT because there are no prerequisites. Some basic prior knowledge of Windows Server’s role in businesses would help your learning, but is not necessary. The MTA: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals has the potential to open many doors for you in 2016 because of the fundamental server it teaches you, especially if you’ve had difficulty finding an introductory IT role.

The MTA: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals benefits from Microsoft’s hugely recognisable brand name, and focuses on a hugely popular technology. You’ll learn about installing servers, server roles, active directory, server storage, server performance management, and server maintenance. The MTA Windows Server Administration Fundamentals can help you on your way to an entry-level Server Support role with a £26,000 average salary. 


Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net




4. Microsoft MTA Software Development Fundamentals


If you’re looking for a software development role creating and managing web and desktop applications, the MTA Software Development Fundamentals is a great certification to get you started. Like other MTAs, it has no prerequisites and requires no on-the-job experience. It is recommended that you have some basic prior knowledge of C# or Microsoft Visual Basic .NET as this will help your learning. Again, this is not compulsory. 

You’ll build an understanding of core programming, object-oriented programming, general software development, web applications, desktop applications, and databases. It covers all aspects of software development giving you all the knowledge you’ll need to get started in software development roles. The MTA can prepare you for a Trainee or Junior Software Engineer role with an average salary between £20,000-£25,000.


5. Cisco CCNA (Routing & Switching)


If you’re interested in networking, Cisco’s CCNA (Routing & Switching) is another excellent starting point. However, it does require you to be familiar with networks and have a minimum of six month’s working experience. Once you’re certified though, you’ll be in the perfect position for you to start growing your career in networking. 

The CCNA looks specifically at Cisco technology, which is dominant in the networking and switching industry with around 60% market share according to Statista. It demonstrates you have the routing and switching skills required for network support positions, building your skills in installing, configuring, operating and troubleshooting networks. After getting CCNA certified you’ll be able to advance into roles like Network Administrator or Network Supervisor with average salaries between £35,000 to £40,000, really giving your IT career a boost for 2016.


Getting certified is always a great way to boost your career in IT, worth considering at any stage of your career. Getting certified demonstrates and improves your skills whilst keeping them current. It can also make you better at you job on a day-to-day basis, and could come with a pay rise of 10 percent or more according to roberthalf.com. Discover 200+ accelerated courses that can help you in the area most suitable for you.

 About the Author:        
Sarah writes for Firebrand Training on a number of IT related topics. This includes exams, training, certification trends, project management, certification, careers advice and the industry itself. Sarah has 11 years of experience in the IT industry.