IT Certification Agencies: CompTIA, Microsoft, & Cisco

When looking for an exciting new career path that offers top compensation, computing and IT probably top the list for quick career entry. These highly technical fields require professional certifications offered by only a few providers.

How to Get Certified?

CompTIA, Microsoft and Cisco are the industry leaders in offering IT certification exams. Each certification agency offers a different battery of testing options, with a specific focus.

Why Choose CompTIA Certifications?

This vendor-neutral agency offers certifications in networking, security, project management, cloud computing and more. Unlike Microsoft and Cisco, CompTIA covers a variety of different software providers, hardware and how to work with any system. The vendor-neutral focus ensures your certifications qualify you for a wide variety of IT related positions.

The Benefits of Going with Microsoft

As a world-leader in business-related software products, Microsoft certifications always have value in today's business environment. Focused on ensuring certificate recipients demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the required software, Microsoft certifications are only offered for their proprietary family of software products.

Networking with Cisco

Cisco's professional certifications deal with a variety of topics directly related to networking and its hardware. Their five-tiered certification process starts with basic networking and goes all the way up to their expert-level exams designed for network architects.  

Which Certifications Are Right for You?

You know you want to make the switch to a computer related field, but what specialties are you considering? Different specialties require different professional certifications. If you want to break into the demanding field of network administration, Cisco is the choice for you. If you want to explore the growing field of cloud computing or database management, both Microsoft and CompTIA have exam options. Consider some of the most popular exam choices to guide you to the best certification options.  

Top 3 Exams for Each of the Top 3 Certification Agencies

All three certification agencies offer tiered testing levels designed for anyone from entry-level to expert. Cisco focuses on network hardware, while Microsoft is a software provider and CompTIA offers a bit of both. New Cisco students typically start with the basics: CCENT and CCT. These two courses cover basic installation, maintenance and repair of simple networks. If you are already knowledgeable about Cisco's network frameworks, you can jump right into CCIE expert-level certifications. According to Cisco, "The [CCIE] certification is accepted worldwide as the most prestigious networking certification in the industry." Microsoft's top certifications may not have the same prestige, but they are often in-demand in today's Windows driven computer environment. The MCSA certification is the single most popular, even though it is the most basic of their server-related certification options. It offers a solid grounding in the core concepts of IT technology. MCSE certification also includes cloud-based operations, allowing you to extend your knowledge into the world of virtual computing. The Microsoft Desktop Support Tech exam is also a popular choice if you want to get started on a new career immediately as you continue your education. CompTIA offers some highly specialized options like the PDI+ exam. This certification covers printing and imaging technologies and how to keep them in good working order. Their Security+ exam covers both how to protect systems and how to audit security protocols to discover weaknesses. Of course, if you are new to computer related professional certifications, you may want to work toward the A+ exam, learning about preventative maintenance, troubleshooting and other basic skills.

Preparing Properly for Certification Exams

No matter how much you know about the topic, or how confident you feel, test prep is an important part of exam success. While certification exams are tiered to offer you different levels of difficulty, they are pass/fail, and often expensive. In most cases, financial aid is not an option, making it important for you to pass on the first try. The right test prep, complete with practice exam questions, can help you reach your career goals quickly and with minimal stress.   Nadine M. is a freelance writer with more than five years of experience producing technology-related content for sites such as Roamable, CrowdTrust and HealthcareSource, among others.   References:          

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