IT certificates: They are valuable to your tech career

It’s possible that you’re a recent college grad lacking technical skills or maybe you’re seeking to switch your current job into a tech related field.  If so, getting an online IT certification is proving to be a worthwhile investment for many people like you. The commercial sector has stepped forward to fill this need with a variety of IT certificates in GIS, Data Science, Cloud Architecture, AI, and Software Development.

There are a lot of benefits to certifications: 

  • Enrich your resume 
  • Validation of knowledge
  • Enhanced your credibility 
  • Cost-effective and time saving
  • Focus specialized skills 
  • Better career opportunities

The rising IT certificate trend

While your degree could prove your level of education, specialized experiences and skills are relatively important when applying for a tech job. IT certification not only ensures you have the basic foundational knowledge that you need, but also enables you to build a better resume that gains all the credentials you need to get a job that you like. Think about this trend that shows where people are learning. In 2021, there were about 20M students enrolled in US colleges.  In this same year, there were about 82M enrollments on Coursera which is a learning platform full of specific technical skills and certificates. COVID has pushed students to look at alternative learning sources and modalities and try to find ways to stand out in a crowded job market. HR Managers have a very keen perception when being told ‘I took this class the school listed in their degree requirements’ versus ‘I spent my weekends earning a technical certificate to self improve’. This certainly transcends beyond software developers as tech becomes ubiquitous in all vertical industries.

High ROI and faster learning speeds

Like the rest of consumer life, we reject anything that costs us time or money.  And it’s easy to see that large academic institutions are full of friction to our learning (travel, registration, applications, transcripts, waitlisting, parking)  Comparatively speaking, IT micro credentials provide a high return on investment.  Taking technical classes online is significantly cheaper and faster. Generally, you are able to receive your certification in a short period of time: approximately 6-9 months. Online learning is definitely a more affordable option, as you’ll get a high-quality project-based education and can fit learning into your schedule.

High School student exploring tech careers   

Pursuing industry certifications could benefit high school students from many faces. It exposes students to workplace situations that allows them to acquire and practice some critical college and pre-career skills. Including problem solving, prioritizing, and critical thinking. Take a look at an example from a high school graduate candidate, Jordan Giustizia. Instead of traditional education, he chose to take an online web development bootcamp. After his nine week course, he was adept at HTML, JavaScript, and Firebase. Jordan graduated with a nice portfolio of projects and within 3 months of graduation he earned a position on the development team at Union Creative. Now, he works as a freelancer helping brands control their digital presence. More students like Jordan are finding that certification provides an option to the standard 4 year college path.

Employed Certificate Holder

James recently got his first full-time GIS job after graduating with his bachelor’s in Geology. From his personal experiences, he suggests the other IT job seekers to gain technician-level GIS related internship and project experiences before applying for jobs. After completion of Bachelor’s he enrolled in several short term GIS certificate courses for getting a job. He got familiar with different GIS application software such as model builder, ArcGIS, and Microstation. Currently he is working in a telecom company as a GIS network executive. GIS certification is a great step in proving technical qualifications for a variety of jobs in GIS

Human Resources Manager

Ron Bell has 20+ years in the staffing industry and is currently the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition for a high-growth technology company.  He has a practical criteria to hire software developers and engineers for a tech company operating domestically and internationally.  He feels that a degree is not the only hurdle in the career race.  Additional hurdles to him include direct experience, bootcamp type classes, a passion for self-improvement, and communication skills.  He looks for applied project work relative to company needs, and whether the candidate can confidently describe their work achievements from end to end.  Bell shared that “While we do sometimes give candidates technical coding tests or related challenges to validate their skills, it’s equally valuable to listen to the way they respond to the challenge and to how they think through the problem.”  This is where practical Bootcamp courses can be a portfolio differentiator because you understand the context of a holistic project and you gain relationships from instructors working in industry

Sources of IT Certificates

Most colleges now offer IT certificates.  But the majority of these are content that has been developed by the commercial sector.  This is much better for the student as the commercial sector is driven more on practical needs rather than traditional academic lessons.  Today, there are several platforms that provide excellent IT courses.

AWS – cloud architecture management

Bootcamp GIS – mapping and geographic information system (GIS Certificate)

Data Camp – data science scripting, modeling, and intelligence

General Assembly – coding and digital marketing bootcamps

2U – coding, data analytics, cybersecurity, fintech bootcamps

 

The most competitive technical talent doesn’t see the certificate as a one time event to a career.  They see certificates as an ongoing means to keep them relevant in the dynamically changing technosphere.  Take this latter path and you will find yourself with opportunities with the better companies and the better projects.

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