If you’re looking for a profession that offers job security, fast growth and an ever-expanding base of knowledge and skills, then IT might be perfect for you…

...As long as you get the right certification(s). In the IT world, certifications can mean the difference between an entry-level and senior-level position. Certifications can affect where you work, what you’ll do and how much you’ll earn. Before you jump into virtually any IT position, a certification is a must.

What are the steps to getting certified in IT?

There are only five steps to get certified in information technology:

  1. Decide what specialty you want to focus on.
  2. Determine your level of expertise.
  3. Find programs that meet your needs.
  4. Narrow your list to the best options.
  5. Complete your course and plan for ongoing education.

Step 1: Decide what specialty you want to focus on.

Before you look at different online courses or IT schools and classes, you need to identify what area of IT you want to focus on in your career. This can include anything from database management to artificial intelligence, cybersecurity to cloud networking.

What about IT is attractive to you? Look into career trajectories and speak with professionals in different branches of IT.

Step 2: Determine your level of expertise.

Once you have a good idea of what you want to do in IT, it’s time to consider your own experience. Some courses will expect you to have some understanding of different programming languages. Others will require a basic understanding of data tables and digital literacy. Some, however, will assume you have absolutely no experience and start from square one.

You don’t want to pay money to re-learn information you already know or learn skills you already learned. Make sure that the IT certification program or programs you find provide instruction that fits with your current level of experience.

Step 3: Find programs that meet your needs.

Now that you know what you want to do, and what skills you already have, it’s time to build a list of programs that meet your budget, schedule and education timeline. There may be other considerations you might include as well, like a bootcamp’s reputation. These priorities are entirely up to you.

For example, Pace helps students become certified in as little as 4 months, without any prior experience. They provide tools and training, and help students gain the confidence they need to advance their careers as a brand-new IT specialist.

Step 4: Narrow your list to the best options, and sign up for your favorite.

Your time is valuable. Don’t spend it all calling every certification provider on your list. Instead, start crossing off candidates from your list until you have a top 3. Most likely, these three will be similar in cost, course content and after-certification support, so the best way to decide which one to select is to follow your gut.

It’s hard to focus on completing your course (and crucially, asking questions when you’re confused or stuck) when you don’t like the provider or the instructors. So pick the one you like and jump in! These courses want you to participate, so signing up and getting started will usually be very straightforward and easy.

Step 5: Complete your course and plan for ongoing education.

If you’re smart enough to consider IT as a career path, then you’re smart enough to know how to complete your course. Many guides will walk you through how to prepare for the course exam, or even remind you to study, but we think you’ve probably got that under control. What some don’t explain, however, is the importance of continuing your education.

IT is a sector that is growing at a blistering speed, and often the certification you receive in January might be outdated by June. You need to have a plan to stay on top of the innovations in your particular specialty, not only to do your job properly but also to keep your career path open to advancement and promotion.

What are the benefits of an IT certification?

Your certification is more than a piece of paper that says you “know how to do IT”. It’s a passport into a wide world of digital opportunity. You will understand the language of IT professionals, you will be able to see new opportunities and paths that you never knew existed before certification. You will know what you need to do when a new IT discipline begins to gain steam, one that you want to grow familiar with.

Once you have your certification, you don’t need to recertify every time a new technology is invented. You only need the imagination and drive to give it a shot. Certification in IT is as much a reminder to yourself that you have the capacity to learn fast and adapt quickly, as it is a reassurance to recruiters that you know what you’re talking about.

If you need a helping hand on how and where to get started, Pace offers top-tier IT education that connects learners like you with the skills you need to pursue the IT career you deserve.

Connect with our Admissions team today to get started.