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Posted at: Mar 14, 2018, 12:47 AM; last updated: Mar 14, 2018, 1:43 AM (IST)TALKING CAREERS: TECH TURF

Correct course to IT certification

Pradipto Chakrabarty

Information technology is a rapidly-expanding and fast-evolving field. It promises opportunities for those willing to work with passion and dedication. It is equally  diverse a stream as several career paths branch out of it. Technology changes and in the process, it outdoes the methods of skill development. To keep an individual’s skill relevant and mapped to industry requirements, organisations — both vendors and associations — regularly develop certification programmes. 

Choosing the right certification thus becomes crucial. Before you choose one, it is important to understand the value of a course. Very simply, it adds value to your CV. It gives you a professional edge. It tells those who matter that you possess the skills needed to succeed and you were willing to put in time and effort to get certified. It thus increases your chances of getting hired or winning a promotion or a hike. At the same time, it enhances your skill set, boosts your confidence and promotes professional growth. 

Before you decide on the certification, you should be clear about two factors: First, your interest and inclination and career goal within I; second, market trends and present and future job prospects. Narrowing down your options to a specific technology or job profile would help. Chalk out your long-term plans and then begin mapping out a certification path that will help you achieve it. 

Once you have done this — weighed your options and chalked out a potential career path — it’s important to obtain the foundational certifications that most employers and organisations look for. It is sensible to start with a fundamental certification course before going for specialisation in a particular domain. Coupled with an entry-level networking certification, specialisation can help you climb the IT ladder. 

It’s important to determine which particular certifications and accreditation will help you move ahead in your field. IT is an incredibly competitive and merit-based sector where the right certification makes a huge difference to your employability and career progression. 

Here are a few important points to keep in mind while opting for certifications:

Technology relevance With rapid changes in IT technology development, certification programmes should include the latest updates. Candidates should carefully check the certification objectives and syllabus to make sure that it is technologically relevant. For example, if it’s a certification in cyber security, check if it covers fundamentals of block-chain technology.

Skill roadmap One should aim for certifications that validate existing experience or do value addition to the current skillsets. Aiming for certifications much higher than your current competency is no good. It might look oddly placed on your CV. A candidate should opt for a certification which complements her experience. Many entry-level candidates in India get carried away by the brand value of vendor-specific technology certifications and opt for them without going through the concepts covered under the certification. It is important for candidates to understand the difference between vendor-specific and vendor-neutral certifications. They should carefully research the industry’s standard career maps prior to attempting certification. Before attempting a certification exam, the candidates should be able to answer the question: “Is this certification right for me?”

Value in the job market Often, job roles do not specify exact certification names. However, it is recommended that candidates evaluate the skill requirement along with the content of the certification. It’s best to ask a company’s HR department what certificate courses the company expects for a particular job and what certifications are considered essential.

You probably wouldn’t book a room in a hotel without reading a few reviews. The same goes for certifications. Make sure you do enough research. Find out which ones are most valuable and sought-after. When considering your certification options, ask yourself: What are the requirements? Will it further my career path?

Continuing education Candidates should check the re-certification policies and validity period of the certification. Many certifications promise a ‘permanent value’, which means that if a candidate is certified today, the certificate will be valid even after many years. However, the accreditation can become irrelevant as technology changes very fast and therefore the coverage of the certification should also change. A three-year validity is considered to be a good industry benchmark for re-certification.

Proper accreditation There are bodies which accredit certification programmes for their quality, technology relevance and mode of exam delivery.  These organisations evaluate the certifications on the above parameters. Candidates should check if the certification has the proper accreditation  from a reputed agency.

Word of advice

Authorised training & approved content 

Candidates should check and enroll themselves with institutions which are authorised to train by the certification body. The training should be conducted by certified trainers. If you don’t adhere to this, you could find yourself short-changed by some fly-by-night operator. 

Speak to an expert

Candidates should communicate with certification bodies to clear their doubts. They can also research and participate on online forums to evaluate the relevance of a programme. 

—The writer is Regional Director, CompTIA


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