There is a broad range of IT certifications available for those interested in information technology, which involves using computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data or information. This article will go over what IT means, the very best entry-level certificates, and the training courses that bring in the highest average pay.
The possible IT roles are broad and varied, from cloud or network architects to video game designers, security managers, system support specialists, and much more. Read on to find out everything you need to know about IT and what a certificate can do for your career.
What Does IT Really Mean?
Information technology is a very broad term that covers a range of jobs involving computers and technology in business or other enterprises. Historically, IT workers were the technicians who would install software and fix computer-related issues within a company.
As technology has progressed, so have the potential career paths for those who are interested in IT. Although there are still IT technicians, the field is now more focused on development and operations, with jobs in infrastructure, security, coding, and data.
In a nutshell, IT refers to anything related to computing technology, including networking, hardware, software, and the Internet.
Best Entry-Level Certifications
There are a few key IT certifications you should pursue for a successful career.
CompTIA A+ is a great beginner’s qualifying credential for technical support and IT roles. You’ll learn basic security skills, how to configure device operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux etc.), how to troubleshoot problems, and will explore data backup and recovery methods.
Careers you can attain with CompTIA A+ certification:
- IT support specialist
- Help desk technician
- Service desk analyst
- Technical support specialist
- Field service technician
- Associate network engineer
- Data support technician
- Desktop support administrator
- End-user computing technician
- Help desk technician
- System support specialist
A Microsoft Technology Professional (MTA) certification is a great entry-level certificate that addresses a wide spectrum of fundamental technical concepts, assesses and validates core technical knowledge, and enhances technical credibility.
Careers you can attain with MTA certification:
- IT security specialist
- Database administrator
- Network administrator
- Mobile application developer
- Network architect
- Video game designer
- Website developer
- Software engineer
- Help desk technician
- Systems analyst
Other Entry-Level Certifications Worth Mentioning
- Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT)
- Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching
- CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ (ITF+)
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA Security+
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- PMI Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
Highest-Paid IT Careers by Certificate
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employees working in computer and information technology occupations earned an average of $88,240 as of May 2019. For the following IT certifications, the salary is sky-high, with the top-earning certificate reaching an average of $175,761 per year.
Average Salary: $175,761
Although the Google Certified Professional (GCP) Cloud Architect certificate is fairly new, it ranks as one of the top-paid IT certificates. By gaining a thorough understanding of Google cloud computing and architecture, you can design, develop, and manage robust, secure, and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.
The GCP Cloud Architect has three possible certification levels: associate, professional, and user. Not to mention, you can get additional certifications like data engineer, machine learning engineer, and G Suite.
What you can do with a GCP Cloud Architect certificate:
- Design and plan cloud solution architecture
- Manage cloud solution infrastructure
- Design for security and compliance
- Analyze and optimize technical and business processes
- Manage the implementation of cloud architecture
- Ensure solution and operations reliability
Average Salary: $149,446
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification exam is intended for solutions architects that have one or more years of hands-on experience designing cost-efficient and scalable distributed systems on AWS.
What you can do with an AWS Solutions Architect certificate:
- Deploy secure and robust applications on AWS technologies
- Define a solution using architectural design principles
- Provide implementation guidance
Average Salary: $148,622
ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification indicates expertise in information security governance, program development and management, incident management, and risk management. CISM is an essential certification if you are looking to move from a security technology specialist job to one as a security manager.
What you can do with a CISM certificate:
- Information security governance
- Information risk management
- Information security program development and management
- Information security incident management
Average salary: $146,480
ISACA’s Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) credential demonstrates expertise in identifying and managing enterprise IT risks and implementing and maintaining information systems controls.
What you can do with a CRISC certificate:
- IT risk identification
- IT risk assessment
- Risk response and mitigation
- Risk and control monitoring and reporting
Average salary: $143,493
Whatever stage you are at in your career, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is globally recognized and tells employers you are committed to project management. Research indicates that employers will need to fill nearly 2.2 million new project-oriented roles each year through 2027. This means skilled project managers will be in high demand.
What you can do with a PMP certificate:
- Planning, executing, and closing projects
- Defining projects and building comprehensive work plans
- Managing budgets
- Facilitating team productivity and motivating team members
Average salary: $141,452
The ISC Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential demonstrates cybersecurity expertise. Obtaining a CISSP certification has been compared to earning a master’s degree in IT security. It proves you have what it takes to effectively design, implement, and manage a best-in-class cybersecurity program.
It requires at least five cumulative years of paid, relevant work experience in two or more of the CISSP domains. Those who lack the necessary experience can still take the CISSP exam, and gain the necessary experience over the following six-year period.
What you can do with a CISSP certificate:
- Security and risk management
- Asset security
- Security architecture and engineering
- Communication and network security
- Identity and access management
- Security assessment and testing
- Security operations
- Software development security