You’ve earned your Master’s Degree in Information Technology (MSIT) – a smart move that can help advance your career possibilities in the IT industry and business world at large. With the broad base of knowledge and relevant IT skills you now possess, you could be well prepared to compete for a number of in-demand jobs. MSIT graduates often pursue such challenging positions as director of information technology, data processing manager and systems software manager.

However, in today’s inundated job market, standing out from the crowd may often require additional credentials. Technology in business is pervasive, and you’ll be competing with a new breed of IT professional, quite possibly with similarly solid business and technology skills. Employers are shifting their expectations, as well, and many of them now see managing IT as part of every manager’s duties.

Job requirements and qualifications may change, but demonstrating your skills through industry certification will continue to be a smart way to differentiate your resume from all the others on the hiring manager’s desk. Because certification alone is no guarantee of landing a position, candidates are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual job placement rates, which vary according to location, education and experience.

Five of the Top IT Certifications

One way you can determine the IT certifications that are in demand is to analyze job listings and take note of which are listed most often as a required qualification. You may begin to recognize acronyms for the certifications employers seek most, such as:

  1. MCTS – The Microsoft Certificated Technology Specialist certificate is intended to validate skills in installing, maintaining and troubleshooting Microsoft technology. Earning this credential requires passing difficult and targeted exams that focus on specific responsibilities on specific platforms.
  2. CISSIP – Security is one of the most talked-about areas of information systems management. To work in IS security, you typically need a certification, such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP®) credential, offered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc. (ISC)2®. This internationally recognized certification requires five years of experience as well as passing a challenging exam. IT professionals currently working on building up to five years of experience may sit for the exam and earn the Associate of (ISC)2 designation.
  3. Security+TM – Another widely recognized IS security credential, Security+TM is offered by the Computing Technology Industry Association, or CompTIA. Required by the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as other national and global organizations, Security+TM certification is currently in demand. Candidates for certification should have two years of IT experience, with an emphasis on network security.
  4. CompTIA A+ – For individuals beginning their IT careers, obtaining certification can be a challenge. If you are still building your experience, the CompTIA A+ credential is a good choice. A+ certification will demonstrate to potential employers your understanding of computer technology, networking and security. Recommended qualifications include 500 hours of hands-on experience in the field or in the lab.
  5. PMP – The Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification can augment IT certifications and help you boost your value to current or potential employers. Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the PMP targets project management expertise and validate your skills and knowledge in planning, executing, budgeting and leading a technology project. To be eligible, candidates must have five years of project management experience, or three years of experience plus 35 hours of related education.

Boost Your Chance of IT Success with Certifications

Once you’ve earned your MSIT degree, you could be on your way to excelling in the challenging and dynamic IT field. The next step is earning the industry-recognized certifications that show employers you possess the core skills they are seeking. IT certification won’t guarantee you a job, but it may help you qualify for the job you desire. If you’ve set your sights on an IT career, you owe it to yourself to obtain any advantage you can – and earning one or more of these five top IT certifications can quite possibly make a big difference in your success.

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