The 5 Certifications You Need to Boost Your IT Career

IT certifications
Certifications for cyber security help IT professionals gain skills in a critically needed area of IT.

Top employers are always looking for knowledgeable IT professionals. IT certifications demonstrate valuable skills in a particular area. Becoming certified can help to boost salary offers, and increase the likelihood that you’ll be a good fit for a particular position. Here are some of the most valuable IT certifications for today’s in-demand careers.

1. CompTIA A+

This hardware/software certification enables IT professionals to install, configure and maintain networks for businesses and organizations. Companies including Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco, and Novell have made CompTIA A+ part of their specific certification track because knowledge in this area is so valuable. Other companies require CompTIA A+ certification for their technician and help desk positions.

2. CASP

The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner certification demonstrates advanced cyber security skills. Before you can become CASP certified, you need at least five years of experience as an IT professional. CASP certification tests not only IT security skills, but also critical thinking and judgment to enable professionals to come up with solutions to complex problems and environments. Companies like Motorola, Synaptek, and Apex ask for the CASP certification for positions like cyber security professional and network engineer.

3. CEH

The Certified Ethical Hacker credential is a vendor-neutral certification that demonstrates hacking skills that are used to help take down malicious hackers and prevent cyber attacks on organizations. Professionals must have two years of cyber security experience to pursue a CEH credential. Companies like Procter & Gamble, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Allstate are looking for certified ethical hackers as penetration testers and cyber security engineers.

IT certifications
Most companies have networks to store information and communicate within the company.

4. CISSP

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional credential prepares IT professionals to be responsible for managing an organization’s comprehensive information security program. This certification is particularly focused on larger organizations with complex IT environments, and it helps professionals work with management or C-suite members to keep information secure. Companies like Dell, Anthem, and government organizations like the City of Seattle use CISSP-certified individuals as IT security specialists and security analysts.

5. MCSA

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate is an entry-level certification that forms a foundation for other Microsoft certifications as well as demonstrating skills working with various Windows environments. Although Microsoft provides self-study opportunities through their website, taking a preparation course will ensure that you get enough practice and will help to identify areas of weakness where you may need additional skills development.

Companies like Intellisoft Technologies, IBM, and Valley Behavioral Health require MCSA certification for their systems administrator and IT systems/storage architect positions.

PC AGE offers preparation courses for these and many other popular IT certifications that will lead to a variety of IT careers. Preparation courses help IT professionals pass certification exams faster and with better scores, and provide more real-life preparation than self-study methods. Request information on what certification courses we offer.

Note: The company information provided for each certification above was obtained via the job site Indeed.com.

An IT Student’s Guide to Mind Mapping

IT training courses
Mind maps can help students perform and learn better.

Mind mapping is a technique for organizing your thoughts, brainstorming, and other creative thinking activities. This technique has many uses for IT students and can be used inside the classroom or out of it.

How to BUILD a Mind Map

Mind maps are easy to make. Simply write your topic in the middle of the page, then draw lines radiating out from the middle to write down the ideas related to that topic. You can also draw lines from those subtopics to subtopics of those subtopics. Your mind maps will be different based on the use or purpose of the map.

Mind maps can be hand drawn on paper, or you can use a number of online tools for a more high-tech rendition. Coggle is a Chrome extension that lets you color code your maps; FreeMind is open source and allows you to work offline; and MindMapple lets you integrate clip art into your maps and share them with GoogleDrive, as well as being Mac compatible. Sketchboard lets you draw your mind map (or anything else) freehand for the best of both worlds.

IT training courses
Online tools can assist students with mind mapping.

How IT Students Can Use Mind Maps

When studying, IT students can use mind maps to organize information so they can remember it better, they can use them to take notes during class, or to review information to prepare for a test. They can also use mind maps to ensure that they understood what they read—mind maps have been shown to improve reading comprehension.

Another good use for mind maps is for solving IT problems, like practice problems designed to teach students how to troubleshoot real life situations and also in their IT careers when they do need to solve problems with servers, networks or other computer problems. Mind maps can help IT students brainstorm and work through these situations to come up with possible solutions.

Mind maps are also useful for writing essays, functioning as basically another way of making an outline that will help organize and flesh out the writing. Last but not least, mind maps can be used to organize and track group projects—preferably via an online tool that can be shared with all the group members to keep everyone up to speed.

The Biggest Benefit of Mind Mapping

The best thing about mind mapping is the way it lets students customize their learning to organize material in the way students can best relate to it. Being able to personalize content in the way that makes the most sense to each individual results in 12 percent higher test scores on average for students who use this method. Applying mind mapping to your IT course studies at PC AGE could help you excel, pass rigorous certification exams, and launch an IT career. Contact us to request information about our programs.

The Future Looks Bright for IT Hiring, According to Recent Survey

IT jobs
IT jobs continue to be readily available, particularly in certain specialties like cyber security.

The IT job market continues to be strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted 12 percent growth in IT employment between 2014 and 2024, which is higher than the average for all occupations. Close to half a million jobs are expected to be added in IT over that period.

Several 2017 studies showed a slight slowing in growth over last year but continued strong growth overall, particularly in certain types of IT jobs that are in the highest demand. A recent Spiceworks study showed that cyber security was considered a top skill for 2017, followed by virtualization and cloud architecture skills. Jobs in these areas may be even more plentiful than other IT jobs this year.

Database management, big data, and data science had the most unfilled jobs, according to a Brilliant study, and are other areas of great need within IT. Jobs that use skills in machine learning or artificial intelligence and involve scalability were seen as most valuable in a Medium.com study.

Many Employers Are Expanding IT

The small-scale survey of tech employers and workers published on Medium.com found that 52 percent of hiring managers expected to hire more IT staff than last year. Another larger study in Information Week suggested that 21 percent of employers would add more IT workers in the second half of last year, but another 63 percent of employers were still trying to fill existing open positions in the IT field at that time.

IT jobs

IT Workers Changing Jobs in Large Numbers

The Spiceworks study showed that in 2016, 51 percent of the candidates surveyed changed jobs and another 26 percent thought seriously about making a move but didn’t do it. So far in 2017, 23 percent have changed jobs and 48 percent were considering a switch.

The IT field is constantly changing, and IT professionals who improve their skills on a regular basis may want to take a job where they can put those new skills to use. Employers who recognize and reward their top-performing IT professionals may be more likely to retain them over time.

Employers Are Struggling to Find Qualified Workers

The Medium.com study found that 69 percent of hiring managers were finding it difficult to hire the IT workers they needed. Both employers and workers in that study agreed that talented IT candidates did not have too much trouble finding a good job in the field, particularly in high-demand areas like cyber security, which is currently experiencing a shortage of qualified workers.

The workers studied by Medium were overwhelmingly optimistic about their job prospects in the IT field, with only 16 percent saying they were less optimistic about their job prospects in 2017 than 2016.

PC AGE offers courses to develop some of the most in-demand IT skills and earn certifications that will demonstrate these skills to employers. Contact us for more information on how we can help you start an IT career.