The Best IT Certification to Start Your PRO Career

by Mirek Burnejko

CertificationEveryday I receive an email from somebody with a question how to start a career and which IT certification is the best for start.

I was struggling with this also. Where to start my network career. Is this certification good for my networking, virtualization or project management career?

So many questions and no single place with an answer.

I figured that many people would benefit from a thorough overview on the best IT certifications to start a career with a technology. Below you can find the answer from 10 experts from 10 different fields.

10 Experts and The Best IT Certification to Start Your Career

1. Virtualization – VCP from VMware

Andrea MauroIf you want to start in the system virtualization field then the best choice will probably be the VCP certification because is based of the the standard de facto solution, is not only related to VMware vSphere (in the course you will see also networking, storage and some basis of security and high availability). The credibility level of this IT certification is still high (probably also for the mandatory course). For other virtualization technologies (like VDI or application virtualization) there are other specific certifications (and really vendor oriented), but a previous system virtualization certification could be required or is recommended (at least for VDI solutions)

Andrea Mauro, vExpert, VCDX #35, MCITP, CCA.

2. Networking – CCNA from Cisco

Rick MurI think the CCNA certification is the best way to start in the networking world as they really teach you the very very basics of the technologies. Certainly the first bit is very vendor independent and it really teaches you where to start and how you should think about this stuff.
After you get acquainted with the basic principles like subnetting and the OSI model, you get into the protocol stuff. I have to say it was one of the toughest exams I took and it’s the only one I failed the first time, just because of the amount of theory you have to get in your head.
It’s tough, it’s good and it’s the best kickstart you can possibly think off.
Most other vendor associate level certs assume you are already at CCNA level in terms of basic networking knowledge. The CCNA starts at 0 and takes you to the top!

Rick Mur, CCIE #21946 (RS, SP, Storage), JNCIE-SP #851

3. Computers – A+ from CompTIA

Emilio Da SilvaIf somebody wants to be the master of all things hardware, get you A+ first. That is the vendor neutral, globally recognized hardware certification to get. After you do this, you can get the vendor ones. Every company has a hardware certification. You can literally travel the world getting trained. If you get and keep your vendor training up to date, then you can repair any companies equipment they have under the sun. That is where you will find your niche, and will make your money.

Emilio Da Silva, A+, CISSP, PMP, CEH, HCIE, HP MASE.

4. Programming – ZCE PHP from Zend

Michelangelo van DamIf you want to start with development in PHP, the best choice is going for the ZCE for PHP 5.3 certification (as PHP 4 and PHP 5 are already outdated and no longer relevant), if you develop a lot with Zend Framework, then the ZF-ZCE program should be your first pick, followed by the PHP 5.3 certification. Additional a MySQL, LPI or a MS SQL certificate are valuable additional IT certification programs that sure will boost your career.

Michelangelo van Dam, ZCE PHP, ZFCE PHP.

5. Wireless – CWNA from CWNP

Gregor VucajnkFor practical knowledge (the how) having access to enterprise gear is a must. Only so vendor specific certifications (from Cisco, Aruba, Aerohive, Ruckus Wireless, HP, Juniper, etc.) can be successfully perused. For answering why (theoretical knowledge) a CWNP certification path is available, with CWNA being a minimum.

For engineers that want to pursue the career in WLAN security, there is also a great certification by SecurityTube. It focuses on penetration testing on the BackTrack suit of tools. Very practical and fun certification. To boot, all of the training material is free, with more than 40 hours of training video available for download.

Gregor Vucajnk, CWNA, ACWA, WiSE

6. IPv6 – IPv6 Forum Silver Certified Engineer

Fred BovyBest Certification to start with IPv6 I my own certification! I am really doing the best IPv6 curriculum training on the World! No kidding!

Now I don’t have yet a certification and the only one I know are IPv6 Forum and IPv6 Sage from Hurricane Electric. I would say IPv6 Forum Certified Engineer, but it is not an exam. You must prove that you have achieved some serious IPv6 works!

Fred Bovy, CCIE #3013, IPv6 Forum Gold Certified Engineer, IPv6 Forum Gold Certified Trainer, IPv6 Forum Gold Certified Security Engineer.

7. Storage – EMC VNX Implementation Engineer

Brian FeenyIf someone had to go after one certification to break into the storage world, I would say to go for the EMC VNX Implementation Engineer. This is actually two certifications, as in order to get the EMC VNX IE, you have to first pass their associates exam E20-001. The associate exam gives you a very vendor agnostic and well rounded foundational background on storage. The reason I pick the EMC certification is because EMC has tremendous market share, and so as someone looking to start a career, you will have many more options available to you with EMC knowledge. There are still many businesses using EMC Celerra (NAS) as well as their legacy CLARiiON product line, however the VNX certification will give you enough information to be able to find your way around these devices as well, since the VNX is actually an evolution of the EMC CLARiiON and Celerra. You can make use of virtual software or simulators to train on parts of the VNX, but there is no substitute for actually working on an array if you can get your hands on one. In most mid to large sized businesses, the storage is handled by specific storage engineers. Although other manufacturers may exist, it is very likely that some EMC storage exists in a businesses, and that demonstrating knowledge of EMC storage can be acceptable even if the company does not have EMC storage. The EMC Education folks put together very complete training, so the quality you are getting for your money is going to be there.

Brian Feeny, CCIE #8036 (RS, Storage), CISSP, EMCDCA, EMCCA.

8. Project Management – CAPM from PMI

Tony JohnsonI would suggest as a certification to start in the project management area being either the CAPM or PMI-SP. In both cases, it will require you to ensure that you have a solid understanding of the PMBOK Guide, and thus a good amount of exposure to project management skills and tools. If you are more of a scheduling person starting out, then the PMI-SP would be good, but remember, it’s more than how to use a scheduling application. If you are starting out managing smaller projects, then the CAPM would be a good starting point until you get the experience to sit for the PMP.

Tony Johnson, PMP, PgMP, CAPM, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, PMI-ACP.

9. Enterprise Architecture – TOGAF9 Foundation from The Open Group

Willem CilliersFirst look at what your company offers and navigate that career path. If that is not an option, then a public-domain IT certification such as offered by The Open Group (TOGAF9 Foundation) would be a good candidate. Regardless of the avenue chosen, an essential partnership is to find a mentor who has navigated the road and can guide you in the process.

– Willem Cilliers, IBM Certified Senior Architect, Open Group Master Certified Architect.

10. Databases – OCA DBA from Oracle

Florin-Catalin EnacheMy first certification was the Oracle OCA, back in the days where you did not have to do any SQL exam for the OCA Certification during my first IT Job. I actually deeply learned Oracle/RH Linux during the OCA certification, so my answer would be that the best certification to start a database administrator career is a combination between Linux Fundamentals, SQL Fundamentals and OCA , especially OCA as it gives you all the details you need to start taming the Oracle beast. After that , OCP is compulsory as it gives a quite good overview regarding the backup/recovery techniques, some ASM overview etc…
When speaking about the versions, i think that a new DBA should start with 10g or 9i, and then upgrade to 11g. I’ve found this extremely important, as you get used to the database, you learn the new features gradually and do not get caught into them, and if we are realistic, the 9i or 10g are still used.

– Florin-Catalin Enache, Oracle Certified Master 10g & 11g, MCTS SQL Server 2005

Conclusion

These are more than 1700 certifications that you can protect your career and help you with your professionals goals. While there are a few other certifications to keep in mind, these 10 are most important to start. Keep in mind that while people will be talking that you can find a dream job without a certification, almost 99% of experts have certifications and are thankful for them.

It’s only a beginning. You can also decide which IT certification is the most important on the market. Which one give you money, job, respect and knowledge. Just click here.

While you may not achieve any of these certifications right now, simply knowing which one is recommended by an expert can help you and your friends. By following the 10 advices listed above you are ready to start your IT career and someday becoming an IT Rockstar.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony August 10, 2012 at 6:53 PM

This is a good article. Any one looking to get into any I.T. carrier bias would definitely benefit from this. I am personally looking to get into I.T. security but there isn’t any mention of a certification in regard to this bias. Please assist. Many thanks in advance…

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Carlos October 31, 2012 at 1:09 PM

Security+ is the most entry level. Then goes SSCP and then CISSP.

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evilclown January 30, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Certification is important, but nothing beats experience. At a job once training a new employee. He claimed he had prior Linux training, but he was clueless as to how an FTP connection was established. He either lied, or the training never took place.

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Mirek Burnejko January 31, 2013 at 2:18 PM

You’re 100% right. A certification is a tool. Some people decide to use them right and take all the knowledge, some of them decide to pass an exam without training/preparation.

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