The Best IT Certifications: Training, Achieving, and Enjoying the Benefits cover image

The idea of getting into the world of IT is now as attractive as ever. The bad news is, you’re not the only one who finds it enticing: millions of people worldwide are striving to become tech professionals as they either enter the workforce for the first time or try to make a career switch later in life. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the ability to learn and work remotely erases the issue of distance – everyone is free to gain and use their IT skills from any corner of the world.

Intense competition does not mean you will not succeed in finding a great job in IT – however, you will have to work harder. Your first goal is to build and prove your expertise so that your resume attracts the recruiters' and employers' attention, and one of the things that never fails to do that is top IT certifications. They are usually focused on a much narrower subject than, say, college IT studies, so getting certified by an acknowledged industry leader is a definite proof you are an expert in the field and not just someone with some general sense about it. Let’s review some of the best IT certifications in various tech spheres and see which one could be the best option for you as you aim for the career of your dreams.

Cloud Computing: Google or Amazon?

If you have been browsing job listings and comparing the offers, chances are, you already know cloud computing has been all the hype in recent years. It’s only natural: millions of companies worldwide have already ditched private physical servers in favor of safer and more reliable cloud infrastructures, and the ones who still haven’t are already contemplating it. However, cloud computing is still relatively new, so experts of the infrastructures are highly sought after in all types of companies.

Google and Amazon are both industry giants that offer some of the best IT certifications in the sphere of cloud computing. According to the statistics, Google’s Professional Cloud Architect is also at the top of the highest paying IT certifications list, with an average yearly salary of a whopping $175,761. You can also become an Associate Cloud Architect or a Professional Data Engineer. However, Google occupies a comparatively small part of market share in the field of cloud computing, so the selection of relevant job listings might not be too massive.

Amazon, on the other hand, provides twelve types of certifications focused on Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the absolute global leader of cloud computing, so the demand for certified professionals is constant and ever-increasing. AWS also offers one of the best IT certifications for beginners called the AWS Cloud Practitioner: by covering all the basics of cloud infrastructures, relevant subjects, and AWS key services, it ensures a beginner is ready to use the cloud in their everyday work, no matter their exact role. There are a lot of educational resources online to choose from if you want to master AWS. Our recommendation? BitDegree Academy, for sure. Original and up-to-date content, hands-on exercises, practice tests, expert support, and a gamified platform – what's not to love?

Security with ISACA

Another branch of IT that has been steadily growing and will only continue to do so is cybersecurity. No surprise there: with all kinds of everyday tasks and duties being performed online, the digital space is full of sensitive information, and it’s up to the experts to ensure it’s kept safe and sound. Leaks of financial information often result in tremendous losses, and losing customers’ private data might mean a death sentence to a business. Therefore, great cybersecurity specialists are adequately compensated and highly appreciated in the job market.

If you’re looking for the best IT certifications focused on cybersecurity, your safest bet is to pick one out of six available from ISACA. While the name stands for Information Systems Audit and Control Association, the company chooses to only use the acronym in public. The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) credentials they issue are often among the highest paying IT certifications, with average salaries coming close to $150,000 a year. Aiming at specialists of different experience levels, ISACA offers some of the best IT certifications for beginners, as well as seasoned professionals to prove their expertise.

Microsoft Certifications

If you look among the top ten highest paying IT certifications, you won’t find the ones issued by Microsoft. They are not as popular and lucrative as the certifications mentioned above – and yet we feel like we need to mention them among the best IT certifications. Why? Mainly because of their practicality and somewhat universal application: the majority of us use at least a few Microsoft products, and these certifications focus precisely on that. The exact products? Windows OS, SQL Server database management system, Azure cloud computing platform, Power Platform for business applications, Visual Studio code editor, Dynamics and Office software.

Microsoft offers three types of certifications: fundamentals, role-based, and additional ones. As the name itself implies, fundamentals are the best IT certifications for beginners out of the three: they are recommended for those who are on the first step of a career in tech, be it their first career choice or a switch later in life. The role-based certifications cater to a whopping 16 roles from an administrator to a technology manager, so there’s definitely something for everyone.

Are Microsoft certifications the right fit for you? Well, this might just be the easiest one to decide: rethink the digital products you’re using (or would want to use) in your daily work. For example, if a company you’re striving to get employed at has chosen Azure as their cloud computing platform, it’s a great choice. If not, sticking with a solution that has the biggest market share might be a safer bet.

Cisco for Networking

When it comes to networking, Cisco Systems is probably the top IT certifications provider you can think of – and they offer some options for software developers, too. All in all, there are more than 30 certifications that come in six categories: Entry, Associate, Professional, Expert, Architect, and Specialist. Naturally, the best IT certifications for beginners are the entry-level ones – they are designed to be a solid stepping stone into the career of a networking professional.

According to Global Knowledge, the most popular Cisco certifications are CCNA and CCNP. Both are focused on Routing and Switching – the difference lies in the certification levels (CCNA is Associate, and CCNP is Professional). CCNA is also the second most popular certification worldwide. There are no formal prerequisites for this certification, too – however, having some basic knowledge of networking and IP addressing is greatly encouraged. All Cisco certifications are valid for three years – to recertify, you can either earn continuing education points during that time or pass a special exam once your certification expires.

Rising to the Top: IT Certifications

Choosing the best IT certifications for beginners is a great step towards your dream career – however, it’s not the whole journey. Statistics show that the best-paid specialists do not stop after getting one certification, no matter how impressive it is: they get cross-certified and explore various areas of the sector they’re working in. For example, Google Certified Professional Cloud Architects are highly likely to also be AWS Certified Solutions Architects – which is only logical, as the two are currently the highest paying IT certifications in North America.

We encourage you not to limit yourself with one certification as well – pick one for a strong start, and keep stepping up! Ambition and professional growth are just as important as industry knowledge – and your future employers will appreciate it without a doubt.

Author avatar

Written By

Vaida Jėčienė