To get IT certifications, decide on one, prepare for the exam, take the exam, update your resume, and stay up to date on updates.
IT certifications can show employers that you have the basic skills required of an IT professional. It can also make you more competitive for jobs and promotions. Employers may not require a certificate, but it can be prominent in your application. Additionally, the certification process provides new skills that can be applied to the job.
How to get IT certifications
1. Decide on a certificate
Choosing the certificate that fits your needs depends on the skill you want to build and what you need to accomplish with that skill. If you’re curious about the types, you can check out our IT certification roadmap. You can view some job descriptions for positions you’re interested in to see what kind of skills you need. If you want to stay in your current position, you can ask your manager which qualifications make sense for the company.
Just starting out? Entry-level certificates in information technology might help. These can include:
- CompTIA A+
- Google IT Support Professional Certificate
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- CompTIA Network+
Note: The Google IT Support Professional Certificates is not itself a certificate, but upon completion, you will earn a Google Professional Certificates. This course will prepare you if you choose to take the CompTIA A+ exam (at the time of this writing, there is a 20% discount on the exam fee). This course is designed to prepare you for a career in IT.
2. Prepare for the exam
Certificates typically have exams that must be passed in order to qualify. Exam preparation usually means:
Complete all requirements. In general, there are no prerequisites for entry-level certificates, but more advanced certificates may have more stringent requirements. Make sure you can take the exam for your chosen certificate.
Examination grind. Each certificate usually has a corresponding exam, which is listed on the certificate provider’s website. You can also list topics covered in the exam and ask practice questions. A more popular certificate should have multiple preparation courses, books, or other resources available for study.
Schedule your exam. Visit the certificate provider’s website to register for the exam. Usually, you also pay the exam fee here. Depending on your experience and learning level, the time it takes to prepare for an exam may vary. If you’ve just started college, wait a few months or wait until you’re ready to enroll.
How much do certifications cost?
IT certifications typically cost up to a few hundred dollars. For example, the CompTIA A+ certification costs $464 (on both required exams), CCNA costs $300, and his AWS Solutions Architect at Associate level costs $150.
3. Take the exam
Exams can be administered online or in person. It can contain different types of questions, such as multiple choice, short answer, or navigating exercises.
Please review the rules and requirements prior to your exam date. You may be asked to show valid identification, or you may want to know how long the exam will take.
4. Update your resume and LinkedIn
You’ve got your certificate- congratulations! Now you can put it where people will find it. Here you can add new credentials to your resume and LinkedIn profile.
Resume: The resume is where you can list your new qualifications in the education section. You can also list new skills you may have learned. If you have completed a coursework project, add it to the section listing related projects.
LinkedIn: New certificates can be added to the Licenses and Certificates section of your LinkedIn page.
5. After the certification: Renewals, and more credentials
Certificate Renewals: Like many certificates, IT certifications have an expiration date. For example, many CompTIA and entry-level Cisco certificates are valid for three years. We recommend that you track the validity period of your certificate and plan accordingly. A prerequisite for recertification is passing a recertification exam or completing continuing education activities.
Next Certificate: If you need more specialized knowledge, want to move into a different IT field, or want to build on your current career, another certificate may help you. If you have an entry-level certificate, you can look for certificates in specific areas of interest, such as networking, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and more. You can also contact your employer to see what skills they might find useful.
When you’re ready to consider certificates, browse through some entry-level certificates. Or check out the Google Professional Certification today. The first week is free.