6 IT Certifications That Can Help Launch Your Tech Career

Woman smiling with headset at computer

We all know that feeling of dread on Sunday nights—another work week to get through. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Your career should be exciting, challenging and engaging. If you’re feeling the squeeze of a dead-end job, why not change your course?

The information technology (IT) field offers plenty of opportunities regardless of where your true passion lies. But how can you change careers—and fast?

The good news is that not every career needs years of training to launch. In the tech industry, a college degree will almost certainly help—but it isn’t always an absolute requirement to get started. A handful of entry-level positions in this burgeoning field may simply require a certification or smaller amounts of formal training.

Why earn an information technology certification?

Many IT positions deal with specific technical procedures or software, so becoming certified in a specialized area proves to employers that you have the precise skills needed to succeed in that role.

Earning an IT certification is a great way to build up and showcase your tech skills on a resume as you work to break into the field. They help provide an at-a-glance validation of your technical proficiency to hiring managers and recruiters and can prove useful as you aim to advance within your career.

So which certifications and credentials should you consider pursuing if you’re looking to kick-start your IT career? To help you get a better idea of where to begin, we used real-time job analysis software to identify several excellent IT certifications and credentials that are commonly sought after in positions requiring limited (0-2 years) experience.1

6 Quality IT certifications for beginners to consider

When it comes to IT certifications, there’s a lot to choose from depending on your desired career path. Here are six quality options for early-career IT pros.

1. CompTIA A+ Technician®

CompTIA A+ is an entry-level certification and is a common starting point for many IT professionals. Certified A+ technicians handle the maintenance of PCs, printers, operating systems, mobile devices and laptops. This is a great option for anyone seeking help desk support positions.

  • Certification process:The CompTIA A+ requires candidates to pass two exams. Each exam is a maximum of 90 questions. One covers mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, virtualization, cloud computing and network troubleshooting. The other focuses on the installation and configuration of operating systems, expanded security, software troubleshooting and operational procedures.
  • Entry-level job postings seeking this credential1: 16,403
  • Job titles commonly seeking this credential1:
    • Field service technician
    • Desktop support technician
    • Help desk technician

2. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)®

The CCNA is a well-known lower-level IT certification that assures employers you are able to install, operate and configure enterprise level networking hardware. CCNA credential holders have a demonstrated understanding of a broad range of IT networking fundamentals like network access, IP connectivity, IP services security and automation.

  • Certification process: You can become CCNA certified by passing a single 120-minute exam consisting of about 50-60 questions.
  • Entry-level job postings seeking this credential111,337
  • Job titles commonly seeking this credential1:
    • Network engineer
    • Network administrator
    • Systems administrator

3. CompTIA Network+®

Network+ is a globally-recognized certification that’s an excellent option for IT professionals seeking validation in networking proficiency. This certification demonstrates your ability to design networks, configure network devices, implement network security standards, troubleshoot issues and support the creation of virtualized networks.

  • Certification process:You must pass a single 90-question exam on the configuration of wired and wireless network devices and other emerging technologies.
  • Entry-level job postings seeking this credential1: 9,306
  • Job titles commonly seeking this credential1:
    • Systems administrator
    • Network engineer
    • Help desk technician

4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)®

CISSP is a globally-recognized credential verifying information security competency in order to protect organizations from attack. The credential proves extensive technical and managerial abilities to engineer and manage information security programs. This certification is a good option for established IT professionals seeking to branch out into information security-focused roles.

  • Certification process:The CISSP exam covers eight subjects over the course of 100 to 150 questions. Topics include security and risk management, asset security, security engineering, communications and network security, identity and access management, security assessment and testing, security operations and software development security.
  • Entry-level job postings seeking this credential1: 6,991
  • Job titles commonly seeking this credential1:
    • Information technology auditor
    • Security analyst
    • Information security analyst

5. Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE)®

The MCSE is a mid-level certification that validates an individual’s ability to build innovative solutions across multiple technologies. MCSE certification is offered in the following specializations: server infrastructure, desktop infrastructure, private cloud, enterprise devices and apps, data platform, business intelligence, messaging, communication and SharePoint.

  • Certification process: The steps to become certified will vary depending on your preferred concentration, but the exam is a five-step process that incorporates various question formats such as multiple choice, drag-and-drop and simulation problems.
  • Entry-level job postings seeking this credential1: 2,725
  • Job titles commonly seeking this credential1:
    • Systems administrator
    • Field systems technician
    • Systems engineer

6. Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate®

The heir apparent to Microsoft’s recently phased-out Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate® credential, the Modern Desktop Administrator Associate certification is an excellent entry-level certification option for IT professionals. This certification validates desktop administrator skills like deploying and maintaining Windows as well device and data management.

  • Certification process: There are two exams tied to earning this credential. The Windows MD-100 exam focuses on the installation, configuration, protection and maintenance of Windows 10. The MD-101 Managing Modern Desktops exam focuses on enterprise-level knowledge like the management and updating of operating systems, policy and profile management, device management and app data management.
  • Entry-level job postings seeking this credential1: 4,311
  • Job titles commonly seeking this credential1:
    • Systems administrator
    • Systems engineer
    • Help desk technician

Unlock your new career with an IT certification

Earning an IT certification may be all that’s standing in the way of your future tech career, so what are you waiting for? If you’re ready to leave behind your dead-end job in order to launch a fulfilling career, there’s no better time than now to join the IT industry.

Looking for an academic option that can help put you on track for earning many of these certifications? You’ll want to check out the Rasmussen University IT Support Certificate and Network Support Certificate pages to learn how they can help set you up for success—and provide college credit along the way!

1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 503,045 information technology job postings, April 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020)

CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+ are registered trademarks of CompTIA Properties, LLC.
Cisco Certified Network Associate is a registered trademark of Cisco Systems, Inc..
Microsoft, Windows 10, Microsoft 365 Certified: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate, and Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation..
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) is a registered trademark of (ISC)², Inc..

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2014. It has since been updated to reflect information related to 2020.

About the author

Will Erstad

Will is a Sr. Content Specialist at Collegis Education. He researches and writes student-focused articles on a variety of topics for Rasmussen University. He is passionate about learning and enjoys writing engaging content to help current and future students on their path to a rewarding education.


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