The demand for information technology (IT) professionals has steadily increased as technology has become more and more integrated into businesses. The emphasis on e-commerce has expanded this field and made IT jobs coveted positions. If you want to work in this sector, one way to gain professional IT skills is through IT certificate programs.
Pursuing an IT certificate is a great investment as IT is a lucrative, growing field with a positive job outlook. An IT certificate can open up many opportunities, such as becoming a software developer, computer systems analyst, information security analyst, or network architect.
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In addition to offering degrees in computer science, many institutions offer more specialized fields within information technology through IT online certificate programs. Before you decide to pursue a career in IT, however, you should be sure to do some research to make sure you are choosing the right field.
Below you’ll find a list of the top 15 IT certificate programs. Before jumping in, let’s first explore this profession in greater detail.
What Is an IT Certification?
An IT certificate program is a short, often intensive program that helps students quickly build skills within the booming field of technology. IT certificate programs consist of a variety of courses that allows students to master tech topics from software development to analytics.
Similar to earning a degree, a certificate shows that you have completed certain coursework and, as a result, developed a proficiency in specific topics. Having an IT certificate can help you stand out during the job search process.
Information Technology: The Basics
An IT pAn IT professional works hard to ensure that a company is operating efficiently by managing all software and hardware. In short, an IT professional makes sure that a business is running smoothly.
Earning a certificate in IT is a great way to break into the field. Many businesses hire prospective employees with a bachelor’s or even an associate’s degree. However, if you’re interested in becoming a security analyst, software developer, or software engineer at a Fortune 500 company, you should consider pursuing a master’s degree at an accredited institution.
You’re probably wondering what positions are available in IT. Knowledge of IT opens doors to a wide range of opportunities. Below are some of the best IT certificate jobs in this growing field. The best online certificates for jobs in the IT field can help you land any of these positions.
Data scientists analyze data and use their findings to provide insights to companies. Data scientists are known for their critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork skills, as well as for being detail-oriented. Additionally, a good data scientist will have a firm understanding of statistics, machine learning, and data visualization. If you have an analytical mind, data science may be the perfect IT certificate job for you.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average data scientist makes $108,660 annually. In addition, it is a growing field. To pursue a position as a data scientist, you should have a Master’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field. However, entry-level IT certificate jobs are available for those who complete a certificate program. An entry-level position can help you get hands-on practice to move up in the field.
A software developer creates software, either for a desktop or mobile device. According to BLS, software developers with bachelor’s and master’s degrees typically earn an annual salary of $120,990. The software development field is expected to see a growth of 22 percent over the next decade. Since it is a booming field, software developers can find IT certificate jobs at a wide variety of top companies.
A sales engineer sells technology and scientific products and services to companies. In addition to possessing a working knowledge of tech, sales engineers should possess strong interpersonal skills and be able to communicate well with others.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field is expected to grow by eight percent within the next 10 years. A skilled sales engineer typically earns an average salary of nearly $104,000. IT certificate holders can break into the technology industry by getting an entry-level job as a sales engineer.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
In addition to holding a bachelor’s degree, prospective computer and information systems managers are typically expected to enter the position with at least five years of prior work experience in IT. Usually held by seasoned professionals, this position typically yields a median salary of $159,000 per year.
What’s more, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this position will grow by 11 percent over the next 10 years. Approximately 50,000 computer and information systems manager positions are predicted to open up each year. As such, certificate graduates may be able to secure career opportunities and begin gaining hands-on experience in the field.
Types of Online IT Certifications
There are many different types of online IT certifications that cover a wide variety of topics within the field of study. Though you typically won’t earn college credits, some of the types of online IT certifications you can get include graduate and undergraduate certificates. In addition, you can get a professional certificate that will make sure you have the job-ready skills to succeed.
You can also unlock more career opportunities by obtaining a bootcamp certificate in subjects such as software development, database administration, and cloud computing. These tech courses help you gain the relevant experience needed to impress potential employers and secure a high-paying role.
How to Choose the Right Certification Program
Now that you’re familiar with IT and how a position in this field can advance your career, let’s learn more about how to develop IT skills through IT online certificate programs. Many IT professionals earn their certification through online coding bootcamps. These are short, intensive programs that equip students with the practical, job-ready skills they need to succeed in tech jobs. They are a cheaper, faster alternative to attending a four-year college or university. Additionally, many programs offer career support for graduates.
Gaining foundational skills in IT through tech certification programs is a great investment. These programs offer hands-on projects that help students develop professional experience. Whether you’re a working professional seeking to change your career path or advance your career, online IT certificate programs may be a great fit for you.
Many IT online certificate programs are delivered asynchronously to provide students with the maximum amount of flexibility in their learning experience. Other programs allow students to choose either a synchronous or asynchronous format. These options are another important factor to consider when comparing IT certificate programs. Additionally, many programs allow students to transfer credits they earned from a prior institution. This will accelerate the speed at which you complete your IT certificate program.
Full-time programs typically last for 17 weeks, while part-time programs typically last for 34 weeks. Before choosing to enroll in one of these two options, it’s important to consider how much time you have to commit to a program. If you have a demanding workplace, a longer part-time program may be the best option for you.
While reviewing our top 15 best IT certificate programs listed below, it’s important to consider the following factors that will play into your program decision:
- Full-time vs part-time
- Tuition cost and tuition reimbursement
- Mentorship opportunities
- Career services offered
- Success rate
- Future job opportunities
- Class size
- In-person, online or self-paced
Top 15 IT Certification Programs
This coding bootcamp operates asynchronously, allowing its online students to work at their own pace. It offers engineering and UX/UI online courses. Bloc also boasts a tuition reimbursement, granting a full tuition refund to students if they do not find work within 180 days of completing the program.
In 2018, Bloc was acquired by another school in this list, Thinkful. To learn more about this school’s offerings, check out our description for Thinkful in this list.
Codesmith focuses on equipping software engineers with the skills and knowledge they need to advance their tech careers. Tuition for this online IT certification course is typically covered by the professional’s employer.
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An attractive feature of Codesmith’s program is that it offers a hiring program that guides its online students through the interview process, the building of a resume, and networking skills. Codesmith has a tough admissions process, so check the website to make sure that you have what it takes to be accepted into this rigorous program.
DataCamp is known as the first online learning platform to offer data science courses. Since its creation, the program has taught more than 560,000 data scientists. If you’re an entry-level data scientist looking to ensure that it’s the right field for you, you can even enroll in DataCamp’s free beginners’ courses.
Students enrolled in this program learn to apply their technical skills through short videos with hands-on exercises. Upon graduation from this online IT certification course, learners will have completed more than nine million interactive exercises.
This self-paced program offers UX/UI design skills in either short, four-week courses or a 28-week UX Academy. Students enrolled in the UX Academy complete over 480 hours of coursework and work one-on-one with a mentor to develop their portfolios.
This is one of the top online IT certifications because it provides relevant experience. Designlab also offers access to career resources to its students. The program also guarantees a tuition reimbursement to students who have not secured a job six months after graduation.
5. Lambda School
6. The Software Guild
The Software Guild offers a full-time, 12-week program and a part-time, 10 to 14-month part-time program. Its courses are focused on the most in-demand programming languages according to Fortune 500 companies. The Software Guild also offers an employer and job placement network, including Target, Best Buy, and Progressive.
Thinkful allows its students the opportunity to enroll in full-time or flexible, part-time online IT certification course options. A few of Thinkful’s certification course offerings include software engineering, UX/UI design, data analytics, project management, and digital marketing.
An attractive feature of Thinkful is that it offers each of its students a seasoned mentor to help them with coursework. Students may be eligible for tuition reimbursement (dependent on the course). With its range of offerings, Thinkful is one of the top IT certifications available today.
RMOTR offers a four-month online evening program, perfect for working professionals seeking to advance their higher education while continuing to work. While students can enjoy a flexible learning platform, they still have the opportunity to interact with their teachers, classmates, and mentors, similar to a traditional on-campus learning experience. While building their Python, web development, or data science portfolio, students in this online program work on projects similar to those they would encounter in the real world.
9. Product School
The Product School is renowned as the world’s first technology business school. A few of its online programs include coding, data analytics, project management, and product leadership, among others. All of the instructors at Product School are professional project managers employed by major tech companies like Snapchat, Google, PayPal, LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook, and Airbnb.
Ironhack’s recently-launched online program offers the unique feature of breakout rooms that give students one-on-one instruction with teachers. This mirrors the on-campus experience of office hours and is an attractive feature for students who prefer individualized support from professors.
Ironhack provides the option of nine-week, full-time classes or 24-week, part-time classes in web development, data analytics, and UX/UI design. Ironhack’s programs are designed with a balance of theory and practice for optimal learning.
11. UC Berkeley Extension
In addition to a college degree, students can attend UC Berkeley IT certificate programs. From coding to cyber security to data analysis, UC Berkeley offers some of the best online IT certificate programs that prepare students for in-demand jobs. After graduating from one of the IT certificate programs, you could work as a project management professional, cyber security expert, and more, depending on your course.
Students can choose from self-paced or live instruction options. These tech courses help students master advanced topics so they are well prepared for the career opportunities that will come their way after graduation.
12. The University of West Florida
The University of West Florida offers bootcamps, tech certification programs, and other tech courses. Students can learn about Microsoft Office, full stack web development, SQL, Python, and more. Separate from the university’s degree programs, these courses allow students to gain valuable IT skills in a short amount of time.
Students who want to work in software development can benefit from the best online IT certificate programs offered by the school, which is their full stack web development bootcamp. Alternatively, students can join the 18-month full stack developer program to develop job-ready skills and master advanced topics. Students looking for certifications in tech can join the Microsoft and SPSS programs.
13. New Jersey Institute of Technology
Some of the best online IT certificate programs offered by New Jersey Institute of Technology include offerings in big data, network security, and data mining. In addition, students can also pursue graduate certificates in digital marketing, UX design, software engineering, and many more topics centered around high-growth fields in tech.
14. Dakota State University
Dakota State University offers several of the best online information technology certificate programs at both the bachelor’s and master’s degree level. Through online school opportunities, students can study coding, IT management, software development, database management, and more.
The variety of technology courses offered by Dakota State University cover hot topics within the tech industry such as AI and cloud technologies. Students can also learn about popular programming languages and cyber security standards. Certificate holders can also later apply their credits towards a degree, as the programs consist of official college courses.
15. Bismarck State College
Computer networking, security and hacking, and web page development are just a few of the best online IT certificate programs that students can choose from at Bismarck State College. The school offers 12-credit and 16-credit certificate programs as well as one and two-year programs for students that want to gain more expert-level skills. Many of these programs are also offered in person.
Again, the college courses that students take in these certificate programs can be later applied toward an associate or bachelor’s degree. Students can seek financial assistance in the form of government aid and scholarships to attend these programs. Like many community colleges, Bismarck State College offers affordable tuition rates.
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Certificate in Technology Program?
Both bootcamps and university certificate programs often have specific admission requirements. Such requirements help ensure that admitted students can successfully complete the IT certificate programs. Learn more about some of the common admission requirements for IT certificate programs below.
- High school diploma. Having a high school diploma or GED is a requirement for many IT online certificate programs. However, universities may require this more often than independent bootcamp providers.
- Prerequisite courses and skills. Nearly all university programs, and some advanced bootcamps, require students to have prior knowledge and skills. In addition to basic communication skills, students may need to have taken certain math and English courses. For bootcamps, students are sometimes required to have foundational coding skills.
- Open schedule. As many bootcamps are intensive programs, they only admit students that can fully dedicate themselves. As such, to earn an IT certificate through a bootcamp, you will need an open schedule that allows you to focus on developing expert-level skills within a short amount of time.
Choosing the Best Online IT Certification
Information technology is a lucrative field that is only expected to grow, ensuring a future of job security and ample career opportunities. Gaining foundational IT skills through online IT certificate programs is becoming increasingly more popular. Furthermore, many people prefer this online learning format over getting an education on-campus.
Earning an IT certificate is especially well-suited for working professionals who are either seeking to change career paths or advance their career from home while continuing to work. IT certificate programs allow them to gain more professional experience while also developing expert-level skills in a new area.
IT Certificate Programs FAQ
You can get IT certifications online for free through several sources. Some IT certifications which are free can be found through Google Analytics Academy courses, AWS certifications, and the IBM Data Science Professional Certificate. You can also get IT certifications for free through providers such as Udemy.
What are the most in-demand IT certifications?
Some of the top IT certifications in demand today are CompTIA, Project Management Professional, and Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer. By obtaining the most in-demand IT certifications, you put yourself ahead of other job seekers and impress prospective employers.
How much do IT certifications cost?
IT certifications can cost anywhere from nothing to $20,000. While some programs are free, IT certificate programs from universities and bootcamps can be just as expensive as an associate degree. However, many IT certificate programs also offer financial assistance to students in need.
What are the easiest IT certifications to get?
The easiest IT certifications to get are CompTIA IT Fundamentals, Cisco Certified Technician, and Systems Security Certified Practitioner. On the other hand, the easiest IT certificates to get are often those that are free, introductory courses that help you learn the fundamentals of a topic.
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