Whether you recently graduated, are looking to move up the career ladder or want to change careers, IT has numerous opportunities you can pursue. Earning a certification can help you learn a new skill or validate the skills you already have. But how do you decide which certification makes the most sense for you and your career path? Here are a few ways you can narrow down your options and decide which certification is right for you.
Plan Your Career Path
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years or at the end of your career? Do you see yourself working on hardware and systems or do you want to be a developer? Do you like to get in the weeds and solve problems or are you more of a big-picture innovator? Maybe you even see yourself in a technical role outside of IT! Our IT Certification Roadmap can show you the way to different career paths and understand the steps you need to take to achieve your goals.
Assess Your Skill Level
Now that you have an idea of what career path to pursue, it’s time to assess your skill level. Do you need the very basics of CompTIA IT Fundamentals, or can you skip ahead to CompTIA A+, Network+ or Linux+? Think about your experience and how it relates to what you want to do. This chart outlines the general content, job roles and experience levels related to each certification. If you’re still having trouble, take our IT Personality Quiz to help you decide.
Analyze the Job Market
Before investing your time and money into a certification, you want to make sure that your career goals are achievable. Are there jobs available in your area that match your desired path, or will you need to consider moving? Is the field you want to work in growing, stagnating or declining? What else do you need beyond your certification to make sure that you’re the best qualified candidate for the position you want? In addition to CompTIA research, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and CyberSeek are great places to find information about the job market in your area and your desired field.
Network with IT Pros
If you know someone who works in IT, talk to them about their experience and how they got where they are. Seek out mentors who can help you navigate the waters and connect you with people who can help make your dreams a reality. If you don’t know anyone yet, get involved in local professional groups or online communities, like Spiceworks. It may feel a bit awkward at first, but the more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities will come your way.
With the right information and a little guidance, you can determine which certification you need to set you on the right foot to a successful IT career.