New to Information Technology and wondering what certification is best to get an entry-level job? There are so many options but which one is best or which one should I go with? That is how I felt when I was working in retail for many years and felt stuck in the cell phone industry selling phones, cases, and phone plans. I liked that industry but I knew I wanted a career in IT.
Currently, I am a computer support technician and have been for about five years. I also did one year of help desk support and did a year as a contractor migrating Windows XP computers to Windows 7. After a few years in this field, I wanted to work on growing my knowledge and get a certification.
I love my job but after six years in this role, I wanted to learn more about other technologies in IT. If you are new to computers and not sure where is the best place to start I would just go with the CompTIA A+ certification. CompTIA is a company that provides IT certifications on specifics technologies that are vendor-neutral. If you have no computer support experience or college degree that is okay I would highly recommend the CompTIA A+ first then the Network+. If you are not interested in networking maybe the Security+ or the Linux+. These certifications provide a good foundation for other roles and we all have to start somewhere.
The A+ certification is the best place to start if you haven't worked on or repaired computers. The A+ cert provides also the troubleshooting steps and how to go about repairing a computer operating system. Although it is not necessary there are some other certifications that you can go to if you are not wanting to get into the standard repair business. Other certification paths that I would recommend are vendor-specific certifications.
Vendor-specific certifications provide you with a concentrated knowledge and skill to help gain a position or job that is related to that specific certification. For example, if you get your Cisco Networking certifications you would most likely get a job as a Network Administrator or Network Engineer. If you are interested in some of my recommended certifications the list is below and why. Note these are in no particular order
Super beginner in computers. Jobs that can attain from this certification are Help Desk, Computer Support Technician, PC Repair Technician, and maybe Apple Genius Bar Technician.
This is good to gain next-level knowledge after the A+ certification. This will be good to have if you want to work more with networking and support a small business. Also, this certification can help provide you with possible jobs like Junior Network Administrator or similar. Although this certification provides a large overview of networking I would recommend taking on a Cisco or Juniper Certification.
If you are interested in networking this is a way to go. I would also look into Juniper and Aruba Wireless certifications. These will get you better opportunities and skills to directly support their hardware. Even if a business you work for does not have their equipment installed I think it will provide you with similar knowledge in regards to installations and support. Plus Cisco is the king of networking. Two specific certifications that I am studying for are the Cisco CCNA and Juniper JNCIA. These are both associate-level certifications and would highly recommend looking into them.
I have gained some interest in this because if you are looking to work in a data center and see yourself supporting servers and virtual machines this could provide you with that knowledge. I think I might get this after I get my CCNA and/or JNCIA. Check out VMware for any free options of virtual machines. I currently set up a VMware ESXI computer and it's been fun to see how different systems work and are supported. Now I am not sure if I would recommend this for a true beginner but there is nothing that says one cannot go for it.
AWS and/or Azure
Cloud certifications are going to be the future and it's happening now. Many companies utilize these services to build servers or applications that help with their services. I haven’t done much on it but I know this would be a great place to learn more about it. My coworker just passed his AWS certification and is working towards Azure.
Many companies are going to Linux to create their servers and systems. (even Microsoft) Many data centers work only with Linux-based systems and having this is a must-have after you have completed other certifications. Why not. The more the better it is for you to build your resume. The certifications to look into are the Linux+ from CompTIA and RedHat. RedHat may be more popular in large data centers and the Linux+ may focus more on the Ubuntu operating system. Either way is fine but depends on what you want to do. I do not see myself now working in a data center and if I were to choose one I would probably do the Linux+.
Now let us not forget Google has a path to certifications. I would recommend the IT Support certification for a true beginner. All of their paths are online at growing.google. Having that name will stand out on your resume and would recommend you look into their program.
These certifications are just some suggestions to work with. I hope they provide you with some ideas to see what piques your interest. Work on a goal and list out several of your favorite certifications and systems. Do not complete just one path and stay there. Keep on learning. Technology is always changing and so will the tech companies. Currently, I am learning Linux and Python on the side but mainly studying for my Cisco CCNA certification. I feel as though both will provide me with some future opportunities and growth. In the end, think about your goals and what you want to achieve with the certification. This is about what value you can bring to yourself, your customers, and your company.
Keep on learning and keep on pushing. Don’t stop and continue...
Check out my YouTube channel on the video I posted after I passed the CompTIA Network+ certification. There I provide some studying tools and tips. If you have any questions please leave a comment down below.
Also, these are just recommendations and there is no right path. I learned by just opening a book digging into the content. Soon I found out that I was interested in networking and through that, I gain a high interest in Linux and Python. Do not worry about the person next to you. Do not worry if you are not up to the same level. Every technician started somewhere.