IT Managers are often faced with the task of deciding who to interview when trying to fill their open positions. Interview skills will get you far but you still have to get face-to-face first to use these skills. Your resume needs to shine… you need to shine.
Assuming a candidate has the right amount of experience for the position, education is assessed. Education, and particularly certifications, show a desire and capacity to learn and is one of the best ways to shine and give yourself an additional edge.
Certifications can generally be completed in a fairly short period of time and require minimal financial investment when using a self-study approach. Many entry-level certifications can be studied for in just a few weeks and require passing a single test. Higher end certifications, may take months to prepare for a single large test or consist of multiple tests taken over a period of time.
Now to answer the question “What certifications are IT managers looking for?” Much of the answer depends on the position, but there are many industry certifications that a candidate can use to set themselves apart.
- Comptia A+ – The Computing Technology Industry Association’s A+ Certification is an entry-level credential for those who are interested in an IT support position. It tests the skills and knowledge used for the job of installing, maintaining, securing and troubleshooting IT systems. To get the A+ certification you need to pass two exams.
- ITIL v3 Foundations – The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3) is a process that focuses on IT Service Management. The ITIL Foundations is first level certification which tests a candidate on the use of documented and proven processes that cover the entire ITIL defined Service Lifecycle. To get the ITILv3 Foundations certification you need to pass one exam.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Microsoft’s MCSA certification tests expertise and knowledge in a specific platform. A certification can be earned on a Windows Server, desktop, or SQL Server platforms. To get a MCSA Certification you will need to pass 3 exams.
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Microsoft’s MCSE certification is a revamp of their previously retired Systems Engineer certification. This certification tests an advanced knowledge of Microsoft Technologies. A MSCE can be earned on Server Infrastructure, Desktop Infrastructure, Private Cloud, Messaging, Communication, and SharePoint. To get a MCSE certification you will need to pass five tests, a candidate can often earn the MCSA certification after the first three tests.
- Project Management Professional (PMP) – The Project Management Institute’s PMP credential is recognized as the gold standard certification for project managers worldwide. A Project Management Professional certification shows that you have not only the experience but also the education to successfully lead and direct projects. With a formal education and experience requirement, the PMP does have the most rigorous qualifications in this list. Once the experience and education requirements are met, it can be earned by passing a single test. This certification does have continuing education requirements to maintain the credential.
Depending on the equipment used, other vendor specific certifications may have value for a potential employer. These can include Cisco, VMware, EMC, or any other vendor that has a certification program. These certifications come into view as you gain experience and you establish a certification path for your career.
Jeff Story is the Document Services IT Manager for a banking services company and holds multiple industry certifications including the CISSP and PMP. He is also a proponent for technology, leadership, and company culture.