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Top 5 IT Certifications in 2012

April 18, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 96

We all know that obtaining and maintaining certification is an important part of working in IT. Whether you are an IT Manager wanting to backup you project management skills with a PRINCE2 Certification, or whether you are a hands on Engineer aiming to prove your worth with multiple Microsoft Certifications, having your skills on paper is a key element of career progression and keeping your knowledge current.

Here we will round up what we consider to be the most valuable IT Certifications in 2012.

1. MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional) Enterprise Administrator.

A few years ago, with the release of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft released a new certification track aimed specifically at job roles. This in my opinion works way better than the MCSE for Windows Server 2003 - it makes sense to go this route.

The MCITP Enterprise Administrator consists of 4 compulsory exams:

70-640 - Windows Server 2008 Active Directory, Configuring

70-642 - Windows Server 2008, Network Infrastructure, Configuring

70-643 - Windows Server 2008 Applications Infrastructure, Configuring

70-647 - Windows Server 2008, Enterprise Administrator one elective exam out of the following options:

70-620 - Configuring Microsoft Windows Vista Client

70-624 - Deploying and Maintaining Windows Vista Client and 2007 Microsoft Office System Desktops (Now Retired, but still counts)

70-680 - Windows 7, Configuring

70-681 - Windows 7 and Office 2010, Deploying.

Of course, each one of the above exams is a MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) Certification in their own right, so you will earn multiple certifications on your way to an MCITP Enterprise Admin. Whichever track you choose, you can be sure both you and your employer will find this certification highly desirable and useful in your role.

2. CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Administrator)

The CCNA has been around for some years now, but is still a highly regarded certification and continues to be one of the top certifications in IT. Having held this certification myself for a number of years, I can honestly say that the topics covered gave me the foundation for understanding and troubleshooting networks. I class this as the essential networking certification, a lot more detailed than the CompTIA Network+ but manageable for most networking newbies.

Once you have obtained this certification, you can branch of into more specific areas, CCNA Wireless, CCNA Security and CCNA Voice or you can jump onto the next tier CCNP or CCSP. Each of these can be completed by passing a single exam and your chosen exam will renew your existing CCNA Certification.

For a complete networking novice, I would advise taking an instructor led course. I initially completed my CCNA after attending a local Cisco Networking Academy course, and I must say, it made the course content far easier to digest being able to ask questions and play around on real equipment.

May I also add that learning the Cisco IOS comes in handy with other vendors such as HP. Their equipment uses very similar syntax to Cisco.

3. VCP (VMware Certified Professional).

Virtualization has been one of the major developments in the IT world over the past few years. There are not many organisations out there now that have not embraced this technology in some form or another and therefore it makes sense to have the skills to be able to install, configure and manage a virtual environment. Even though I have used the Microsoft Virtualization platform (and also hold certifications on it), personally I still favour VMware. VMware have always seemed to lead the way with this technology, developing something ahead of the pack and making it work.

One of the requirements to obtain a VCP is an instructor led course. The disadvantage to this is that it doesn't come cheap! If you don't currently hold any previous VCP's then you are required to take a 5 day instructor led class. You will be walked through the whole course blueprint and will have hands on exercises to complete using the technology. The good news is that once you hold a VCP, upgrading it to the latest version is easer and only requires you to take the 'What's New' course (2 days) or if you are quick off the mark, you can usually just sit the exam before a given date without having to sit any kind of upgrade course.

Virtualization is one of those technologies that I still find amazing! The ease at which you can deploy and manage, and the failover options it offers are something that you could never dream of in a physical environment. An interesting certification that will prove useful in any administration role.

4. ITIL (Foundation)

ITIL (Information Technology Information Library) is a set of practices aimed at delivering high quality service management. ITIL covers the IT lifecycle of services for the whole IT Department. It provides organisations with a foundation to build upon and customise to their own specific requirements.

The ITIL course (currently v3) will ensure the candidate has a solid understanding of 5 core elements, which are:

ITIL Service Strategy

ITIL Service Design

ITIL Service Transition

ITIL Service Operation

ITIL Continual Service Improvement

Personally, I think this certification is more suited to those who wish to pursue a career in Network Management or a Team Leader role, however I do think it is important for all Network Admins to have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of delivering and improving an IT Service.

I have noticed that a lot more employers are asking for some ITIL knowledge on their job descriptions, so maybe a wise choice for those wishing to progress to a senior level in an IT department.


Looking back at our #1 certification for 2012, the MCITP Enterprise Administrator, I mentioned that along the way you would obtain multiple MCTS certifications too. The MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) programme allows candidates to select a particular technology and master an area of it, for example, Active Directory, Configuring.

The beauty of these certifications are that you can fine tune your knowledge and only learn what you need or want to know. There are numerous study options available for the MCTS certifications as you can expect including self-study, instructor led training, video training and of course the training manuals.

Like any hands on certification, you need to get experience of using the technology. This is best obtained in a lab environment where it doesn't matter if you break things. I have heard of people trying their newly acquired certification skills out on production machines and, well, lets just say they weren't too popular amongst their colleagues!

From the newbie admin through to the senior architect, there are certifications for you!

Obviously, no one can give you a definite top 5 certifications to go out and get. It depends on your role, what you want to achieve and where your employer wants to you become skilled. However, these are what I would consider a good start for the IT support generalist. They cover a number of areas of the job that will put you ahead of the crowd and will make you a better admin.

About the Author

Hi there! I'm Karl Bellingham, a IT Technical Consultant with over 10 years experience in the IT industry. I'm a bit of an IT generalist who loves all aspects of technology, but concentrate my efforts on Network Administration and IT Management. I've always been a hands-on type of person with a major interest in technologies from Microsoft, Cisco, VMware and Avaya.

If you like what you read in this post, please feel free to leave a comment below. You can also Follow us on Twitter @totalnetworkad or join in the conversations on our website

Source: EzineArticles
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