The Price of Entry

To Certify Or Not To Certify?

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“How can I break into the information technology field?”


This has to be one of the most frequently asked question of IT professionals from college students and folks making a career change. There is no formula to solve this problem because there are so many unknown variables such as timing, chance, who you know, etc. However, what we do know from numerous job postings and interviews with hiring managers is that the Human Resources (HR) department often uses certifications as a way to weed out job applicants.

If HR is using certifications as the price of admission then you must take it seriously and pay the price. But, that doesn’t mean you should run out and start taking every certification offered by vendors. You need to be strategic and determine which certifications are required by employers offering jobs in your discipline. The certification will get you through the HR filter but it won’t land you the job.  You should couple it with an internship, lab projects, or volunteer experience. Employers want you to understand basic concepts and be able to start and provide some value immediately.

So if you are looking to get into the IT field, get certified.  Here is my guidance on certifications.

  1. Certifications should be applicable to the positions for which you are applying.
  2. Google open job descriptions and determine which certifications employers are requiring and select from them.
  3. Be well versed on the concepts and lexicon taught in the certification for the interview.
  4. Do not invest a lot of time and money in trying to attain a lot of certifications. Be strategic.

And always, network, network, network! A lot of jobs opportunities are passed on via the friend of a friend.

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