The Best Certifications to Start an IT Career

So you want to change careers and move in to IT? It’s easier said than done. I’ve been working with PCs for 20 years but not professionally. Then one day, at 37 years old, I suddenly came to the realization that I wanted to make my living doing it. I know I am not alone.

I’ll be the first to admit that the hardest part is getting in the door. But don’t even think about walking up to the door until you have your presentation ready. In today’s highly competitive job market, learning enough to talk the language isn’t going to be enough to fool many folks. Most employers won’t even look at you unless you show them some sort of standardized credentials.

Meet CompTIA. It doesn’t take too much time at to figure out that the entry level IT positions like to see the CompTIA’s A+ certification under your name. These are the folks that bridge the gap for all of us currently outside the IT world to come in, explore, and hopefully stick around a while in the industry. In addition to the A+ certification, they offer the Network, and the Security+ certifications which, when all obtained, give you a great foundation from which to launch.

The Cisco CCNA still is the gold standard for associate level networking certifications.

You also want some background with Microsoft to be well-rounded. Certifications like the MCTS or even the MCITP in Windows Server 2008 (or 2012) probably take the cake in my opinion.

Considering that the books for the CompTIA certs are about 300-500 pages a piece, and the Cisco and Microsoft books are about 1000-1500 pages a piece, you’d better have some time if you’re going to do it by yourself (the hard way).

If you want to get it done in a reasonable amount of time, the boot camp is the way to go. These are 5-7 full days of intense learning that will flat out wear you out, but, walking away, after passing the exam after only a week of study, is a feeling of accomplishment like few others.

But, even after having gotten in the door of a small IT management services company, I was still overwhelmed with all that was still to be learned. My peers, who have been in the industry for years, have reassured me, that the learning continues to be part of the job, in fact the major part of the job.

So, if I haven’t talked you out of it, and you still want in, quit reading the blogs and get busy!

Brett Nichols is a recently employed CCNA in the DFW area.