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Best IT Certifications in 2024 – Associate Level

Best IT Certifications in 2024 - Associate Level

Welcome to our guide on the Associate-Level best IT certifications for 2024. This guide is created for tech industry beginners seeking career support. We will explore certifications that set the foundation for success, concentrating on networking, Linux, cloud computing, data centers, and cybersecurity.

I have over 60 certifications, including roles as a programmer, Linux administrator, network engineer, and more. Therefore, I bring first-hand experience to this guide. I began my career in Shanghai, China, as a programmer before transitioning to roles such as Linux administrator, network engineer, security specialist, and solutions architect. I have served as a 591Lab instructor and traveled nationwide as a hiring manager. My role involved helping thousands build their IT careers and relocate from their hometowns, including cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.

Whether you are looking for Tier 1.0 base certifications or specialized Tier 1.1 and 1.2 paths, our goal is to guide you toward better IT opportunities. Visit for comprehensive certification resources and insights into technology.

Tier 1.0 Base Certifications

Tier 1.0 Base

If you are unsure about your career path in IT (networking, servers, cloud, or cybersecurity) and have a budget for only four certifications, consider the following recommendations:

  1. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): CCNA should be your first certification, as it remains the most popular and helps build a strong base of networking skills. It also introduces you to technologies like cybersecurity, cloud, and data centers.
  2. CompTIA Linux+: CompTIA Linux certification helps build a solid base in Linux, an essential technology with opportunities in cybersecurity, cloud, and data center roles. The exam covers Linux basics and its application to different technologies, such as automation and cloud.
  3. F5 Certified BIG-IP Administrator (F5-CA): This certification completes your CCNA and CompTIA Linux+ certifications. The F5-CA provides basics in various cloud services like load balancing, web application firewalls, VPNs, caching, and more. The F5 BIG-IP is a high-end product in security and network appliances. It is certified to manage their platform, which can result in higher-than-average salaries.
  4. Arista Cloud Engineer (ACE) Level 2 Cloud Associate: This rare cloud networking certification is a hands-on, practical lab exam. It introduces you to many network technologies in a cloud environment, such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Spine and Leaf Architecture. Lab-based certification exams offer a deeper level of knowledge compared to written exams.

The Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD) is another hands-on certification. However, the Arista Cloud Engineer (ACE) Level 2 Cloud Associate is more appealing due to its better certification renewal policy.

Tier 1.1 Cloud and Data Center Certification

Tier 1.1

For those looking to specialize in cloud and data centers with little to no experience, top associate-level Credentials are available to help you get started in the field. Here are some recommendations:

  1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: AWS is the leading cloud service provider, and its Credentials are highly sought after in the market.
  2. Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate: Azure is the second most popular and in-demand cloud service provider.
  3. Google Cloud Associate Cloud Engineer (ACE): Google Cloud is the third most popular cloud service provider. As a fan of Kubernetes, I find that the best Kubernetes-as-a-service is GKE (Google Kubernetes Engine), which runs on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
  4. Cisco Certified DevNet Associate: This unique Cisco Certified DevNet Associate certification covers application development, cloud basics, containers, automation, networking, Python, and various cloud-related services. It provides a solid overview for anyone specializing in cloud and data center careers.

You might skip basic certifications like CCNA, Linux+, F5, and Arista Certified Cloud Engineer at Tier 1.0. However, having a solid foundation in networking, Linux, and application delivery controllers is highly recommended. If budget restrictions limit you to four certifications, consider selecting two foundational and two cloud certifications. For example, you could choose CCNA and F5 for your base certifications, as well as AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and Cisco Certified DevNet Associate for the cloud.

Linux knowledge can often be self-taught without Credentials. AWS remains the most in-demand and popular cloud service provider, making it an excellent choice for your cloud certification.

Tier 1.2 Cyber Security Certifications

best IT security certifications and Tier 1.2 Cyber Security Certifications

If you want to specialize in cybersecurity with little to no experience and prefer to skip cloud and data center certifications, you can proceed directly to cybersecurity certifications. Here are the top associate-level certificates for cybersecurity paths:

  • CompTIA Security+: This, CompTIA Security+, a well-known associate-level cybersecurity exam should be your first step. It introduces you to networking basics, security solutions, malware, vulnerabilities, various attacks, and more.
  • CompTIA PenTest+: CompTIA PenTest+ improves CompTIA Security+ by teaching you how to duplicate attacks using various penetration testing tools. It’s a better choice than the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) due to its lower cost and better recertification strategy.
  • Cisco Certified CyberOps Associate: Earlier known as CCNA CyberOps, this certification covers network analysis, network attacks, Cisco security appliances, SOC playbooks, and more. It is designed for those looking to work in a Security Operations Center (SOC) environment.
  • Fortinet NSE Level Professional Certification: Although not technically professional, this associate-level exam focuses on FortiGate, Fortinet’s next-generation firewall solution. You can start with the free NSE Level 1, 2, and 3 certifications before moving on to more technical Fortinet cybersecurity certifications and career paths. 591cert has a full suite of dumps and proxies from NSE 5-8.

Final Thoughts on Best IT Certifications

Finding the best IT certifications can be the key to a successful career in technology. Whether you are just starting or looking to specialize, there are options tailored to your needs and interests. By choosing the right and best IT certifications, you can build a solid foundation and open doors to new opportunities in networking, Linux, cloud computing, data centers, and cybersecurity. Remember to consider your goals and budget when selecting certifications. Don’t hesitate to explore further resources and support available at and With the right certifications, you will be ready to succeed in the IT industry.


Can I get an IT job with just certifications?

Yes, IT certifications can greatly improve your chances of securing an IT job. They demonstrate your expertise and commitment to the field. However, practical experience and soft skills are crucial to job success.

Are IT certifications worth IT?

Yes, IT certifications are definitely worth pursuing. They prove your skills, boost your credibility, and open doors to better job opportunities and higher salaries.

What are the easiest IT certifications to get?

Some of the easiest IT certifications to obtain include CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+), CompTIA A+, and Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA). These certifications are beginner-friendly and have relatively low barriers to entry.

Which certification is the most profitable in IT?

The Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect certification is considered the most profitable IT certification. With the increasing demand for cloud solutions, organizations are highly seeking certified professionals with expertise in designing and implementing cloud architectures.

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