Understanding Certifications

Computer certification programs are setting the standards for the Information Technology (IT) industry worldwide. Although most careers in the IT and communications fields are lucrative and lead to rapid advancement, you can move ahead even more rapidly if you have been certified. In fact, you often can earn a salary increase of 20% or more once you become certified. Nowadays, having a degree in computer science just isn't enough. Companies are demanding that their IT professionals be certified as a way to measure their skills as well as to guarantee that they can perform their jobs successfully. In short, certification will help a computer professional get a good job and stay competitive in what is now a highly demanding IT environment.

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Technology alone cannot protect an organization’s assets or increase its profitability. People are the key to a successful organization, and employers demand qualified information technology staff to provide the highest standard of performance for their customers, employees, shareholders and partners. There are two main categories of information technology certifications: vendor-neutral and vendor-specific. Vendor-neutral certifications, such as CompTIA’s A+ and ISC(2)’s CISSP® (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), encompass a broad scope of knowledge and are not tied to any specific technology vendor or product. Vendor-specific certifications, such as Microsoft’s MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) and Cisco’s CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), are offered by technology vendors covering knowledge and content specific to their products, solutions, and best practices. Both kinds of certifications play an extremely important role in the market, fulfilling specific knowledge and learning requirements, and demonstrating predetermined acceptable levels of competency and experience.

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Benefits of certification to the Professional include:

  • Ability to demonstrate a working knowledge of information technology
  • Validates the person’s commitment to the profession
  • Offers a career differentiator, enhanced credibility and marketability
  • Provides access to valuable resources, such as continuing education, peer networking and idea exchange

Benefits of certification for the Organization include:

  • Establishes a standard of best practices for the organization
  • Provides the organization with staff that have demonstrated a broad knowledge in information technology and sound professional judgment
  • Provides access to a network of global industry and subject matter experts
  • Provides comfort to employer as to the individual’s knowledge, skills, abilities and experience

Recommended Certification Exam Preparation Steps

First, read all relevant exam information on the certification vendor’s website. Make sure you meet the pre-requisite requirements, since certification vendors invest a lot of time and money in designing exams that test the candidate’s ability to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world situations.

Then, complete a mentored course study using the e-learning courseware from the mentoring service. Your goal is to achieve 100% on every topic assessment, so you may need to take some more than once. Use the show-me function when necessary, until you can eventually achieve 100% without any help.

The final step is to take the test-prep, and again, your goal is to eventually achieve 100% or as close to that as you can, so retake the test as needed and be sure to study the feedback provided.

When you have scored close to 100% in the test-prep and you satisfy the prerequisites of the vendor, you can now consider taking the certification exam.

Facts about Certification Exams

Most certification exams test candidates not only on learned facts, but also on their ability to apply these skills and knowledge, so there can be no guarantee in exam preparedness from the completion of any set of training resources. However, a comprehensive study program using a variety of study materials with extensive practice, experience and the completion of specific recommendations as made by the vendor, is the best solution to being prepared for a certification exam and therefore maximizing the chances of your success in becoming certified. Most exams are given at either a Pearson Vue or a Prometric testing center, which can be found just about anywhere around the world.

Don’t have the skills required for advancement? Ask a training advisor how we can help!

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