How to choose IT certifications that are right for you?

How to choose IT certifications that are right for you?

Many a time we are at a crossroads trying to make various choices in life. Where to eat, what to wear or where to go are just a few. These are some of the small choices which we encounter everyday with various choices hovering in our heads. What makes it more complicated is when others share their opinions as well. The same dilemma applies to career choices with so many careers to choose from.

Questions you should be asking yourself are:

  1. Where do you want to go?
  2. What’s the best way to get there?

Let’s start with the very basics of human nature. You know yourself the best. You know your strengths and weaknesses, your personality, your temperament and what you like the best. Now apply that information to the question at hand.

Let’s look at two different IT technicians Bob and James. James is quiet and reserved whereas Bob is a peoples person, very outgoing and chatty. They both have excellent technical skills and abilities. Using the information above, who do you think will do justice to the role of a Desktop Support Consultant, where you are taking calls and speaking to different people about their IT issues, some of whom are technically challenged? Most certainly you have answered Bob due to his interpersonal skills that come with being chatty and a peoples person.


On the other hand, Bob will not be satisfied or motivated if he is put in a room surrounded by a wall of hardware with his nose to the motherboard, whereas for James it might be a paradise as it may be his ideal work setting. Neither one of them is better than the other, but don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. Know yourself, then choose your path. Once you have decided which path you want to take, you should then look into what certifications are available. For example if you choose Networking as a pathway, one of the most sought after certification and skills are covered in by CCNA. So is CCNA relevant to what you want? Go one step further by looking at what are the learning outcomes of CCNA.

Let’s take a look at a couple of learning objectives listed by Cisco:

At the end of the course, you should know how to:

  1. Know how networks function, identifying major components, functions of network components, and the OSI reference model
  2. Know network fundamentals and build simple LANs

So do the above objectives meet the skills required off a Network Technician? You bet they do.

So now comes the last step, how to choose the right training provider? Choosing the right training provider can be quite a challenging aspect of your career, especially since there are so many providers in the market.

Hands-on training

Without the intention of bad mouthing online training, when it comes to IT which is extremely “hands-on” instructor led classroom training is the best option. How can you repair servers when you never even see one during the course of your training? If the training provides you with “hands-on” experience with real equipment, it is the real deal.

Are the trainers trained?

The trainer should have the knowledge and the information required to answer your questions. Furthermore, they should have the practical experience in the field in turn to better assist you and guide you in the best manner. Questions you should be asking are:

  1. How long has the trainer been training for?
  2. How long has the trainer been in the field for?
  3. What has the training experience been of the previous clients?

What does the offer include?

As a customer, when buying something, we want the guarantee that it will work. In the certification business, a guarantee such as a “pass-guarantee” should be something that should drive you away. A company that guarantees a pass is probably not confident that the training experience they provide will make you competent to apply the knowledge during the exam. Instead they are training you on how to beat the system and get a piece of paper rather than a skill that will enable to succeed in the industry.

Finding the right certification and the right training provider are key decisions for you career as an IT professional. I hope that the above guides you in the right direction.

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Mansoor Walli