IT Certifications That Help You Stand Out Even in an Industry Downturn

Why Pursue a Certification?

Even with the current downturn in IT, companies are still struggling to find the right talent to keep their strategies on track. Increasingly, IT hiring managers are looking to close their skills gap by hiring candidates with the right certifications. What do high-value IT certifications tell a potential employer? They say many things, including that you are job-ready because your skills are up to date, especially if you have an industry-recognized certification for in-demand technologies like cloud computing or cybersecurity.

In fact, an overwhelming percentage of IT decision-makers agree that the value of certification is undeniable. The Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report (opens in a new window) states, “Ninety-three percent of decision-makers around the world agree that IT-certified employees provide added value above and beyond the cost of certification. When asked to estimate the economic benefit of certified employees versus their non-certified peers, 63% said it exceeds $10,000 a year. Twenty-two percent placed the number above $30,000.”

Even if you are an aspiring newcomer to the industry, certifications like CompTIA A+ (opens in a new window) , which is considered the industry standard for establishing a career in IT, can help your resume stand out.

For those who are looking to reenter the job market, or for employed workers seeking to advance their careers, what are today’s more valuable IT certifications? We’ve compiled the following recommended short list based on industry opinions from PC Mag, Glassdoor, and Robert Half Talent Solutions. Many of these certifications – and many others – can be earned through your local community or technical college.

  1. CompTIA Cloud+ (opens in a new window) covers all major elements of cloud computing, including configuration, deployment, security, management and troubleshooting.
  2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect (opens in a new window) – Professional: Amazon Web Services is the largest provider of cloud computing services, and this certification affirms your ability to design and deploy cloud environments using AWS.
  3. Microsoft Certified Solutions (opens in a new window) – These certifications are available in three levels: Fundamentals, Associate and Expert. Fundamentals Level certifications are geared toward those who are getting started with the technologies. Certifications include AZ-900 Azure Fundamentals. Associate Level certifications are for professionals who have two or more years’ experience working with the technologies. Certificates include Azure Administrator Associate. Expert Level certifications are for professionals who have advanced levels of experience — two to five years — working with the technologies and have already attained Associate Level certification. Topics include Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert, Microsoft Certified: Cybersecurity Architect Expert, Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert, and Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals (CRM).
  4. ISACA IT security certifications (opens in a new window) – As a professional membership organization, ISACA is committed to helping IS/IT professionals grow their skills. It offers certifications including Information Systems Auditor, Risk and Information Systems Control, Data Privacy, and Governance of Enterprise IT.
  5. Agile project management is indispensable to IT operations. Furthermore, Agile project management mirrors the software development process, making a certificate like Scrum Master a differentiator for those starting careers in IT and a key stepping stone for those aspiring to managerial positions. Angela Druckman, Tombolo Institute instructor and author, says, “When you go on interviews with IT companies, be prepared because they will ask you, ‘What do you know about Agile? What do you know about Scrum?’ Make sure you have something to show. A Scrum Master certificate would be ideal.” TechRepublic (opens in a new window) recommends the following Agile certifications.Certified ScrumMaster (CSM):“A Scrum master is a professional that leads a team using an Agile project management approach and ensures the team adheres to the Scrum framework. The Certified ScrumMaster certification demonstrates the project management professional’s ability to serve as a coach through the tasks. The certification also helps professionals master the skills to assign and manage tasks in a dynamic environment.”Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO):“The role of the product owner is to decide what their team will create next to deliver more value to the customer. The Certified Scrum Product Owner certification demonstrates the ability of a product owner to ensure their team stays on target. This certification teaches the principles and framework to manage Scrum teams and how to get the maximum return on investment out of a project.”

    Read | Scrum – What It Is and Why It Is Important for the Tech Sector (opens in a new window)

Washington State Community Colleges Collaborate With Industry on AI Certifications and Education

By collaborating with industry, Washington State’s community colleges have the training and certificate programs that prepare students to meet the workplace skills requirements of local and regional employers. Two of our community colleges, Bellevue College and Edmonds College, are participating in Intel’s AI for Workforce program (opens in a new window) , which provides over 225 hours of AI content to community colleges, training for faculty, and implementation guidance to develop AI certificates, augment existing courses, or launch full AI associate degree programs for their students. Intel’s pre-packaged courses cover data analytics, AI ethics, natural language processing, AI model training, computer vision and coding.

“We are partnering with community colleges to expand access to technology skills that, in turn, will lead to top jobs. This includes everything from AI curriculum and teacher training to seeding internships and more. We’re committed as a company to accelerating this important effort to help drive a thriving economy and tech-savvy workforce.” — Gregory Bryant, executive vice president and general manager, Client Computing Group at Intel


For more information on the IT certificates offered by Washington’s community and technical colleges, please contact:

Brianna Rockenstire
Center of Excellence for Information & Computing Technology | 425.564.4229

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