In The buzz in the IT industry is usually about hot certifications and hot jobs. Where does an IT Career come in? Having a career in IT involves providing IT service for a living. IT is quite wide with many different fields such as Engineering, Networking, Programming, Database Administration, Web Development, Research and of course Entrepreneurship. .
Each of these fields has unique requirements. Choosing a career in
any of these fields requires knowledge and information about the nature
of the job and its requirements.
Many ask, why certification? The reasons vary, but many people find
that it is an industry recognized and valued credential. It has been
known to create opportunities for professionals with either a prospective
employer or client. It is no wonder that employers use certification
as a condition for employment, as well as rewarding certifications earned
with job advancement or promotions.
It follows that there must also be standards to confirm
the skill level and experience of such individuals. Certification gives
an IT professional, a valued credential that is recognized in the IT
The question of which certification will boost your career will come after you are sure that certification will enable you to meet your career objectives. There is nothing like certification for certification’s sake. Certification should be considered within the context of your unique, individual career development plan. The issue of certification comes only after you have a realistic career development plan in place. So what does having a career development plan entail?
A career development plan requires what I term as career self assessment and career situation assessment. What do I mean by career self-assessment? Career self-assessment requires to you ask and answer questions that relate to your career expectations. You must ask yourself the questions: What sort of working life do you want? What are your career goals? What are your ambitions, personal or lifestyle preferences? In terms of career satisfaction what is important to you? Generally, the areas you should consider are: Nature of work, Work interests, Recognition, Security, Income (Salary and benefits), Personal / Family life, Opportunities for growth and Responsibility. Simply put what would give you career satisfaction in each of these areas? Which areas are of top priority, which are unimportant, which are you indifferent to?
A valuable career self-assessment is one that
is honest. Lying to yourself will not help.
Which areas require improvement? It must be pointed out at this juncture
that certification is not the solution to all your career limitations.
Some career shortcomings will not be solved through certification. Your
career development plan therefore involves action you will take to address
any career gaps or shortcomings.
If certification is for you, you need to address issues relating to
the quality and amount of resources, you are able and willing to commit
to certification. The resources to consider are: time, money and effort.
How much time do you have for study, for taking the exams and for training?
Some programs will demand more of your time than others. What is your
work schedule like? Will you be able to take time off for training?
To succeed, time and money must be spent with a well-defined and directed focus. Availability of time and money will not guarantee success without the necessary commitment and effort. Be honest with yourself. How much effort can you make towards achieving certified status. Effort required varies from program to program. It is advisable that you gauge your level of commitment.
If certification is a solution, the question is which certification? You should now begin to identify certification programs that fit into your career plan. MCSE, A+ (sponsored by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)), Java2 (sponsored by Sun Microsystems), Oracle (sponsored by Oracle Corporation), CCNA (sponsored by Cisco Systems) are some of the most popular certification at the moment.
Although some certification programs are more popular than some, it
doesn’t mean that the others aren’t valuable to you. Always
avoid the bandwagon effect or “money only” attitude. One
has to match his or her interests, work goals, time availability and
financial resources to a certification program. It is better to choose
a certification that is in line with your goals rather than choosing
any popular certification program.
But before you conclude on a certification program, there are still some practical issues you must consider. For each certification you are considering what are the actual strengths, weaknesses or potentials of the program in industry? Get information about the programs. We live in the information age. Use information to succeed. How is the program valued by industry? A certification’s credibility is ultimately affected by the reputation, real or perceived of the organization backing and administering it. What is the level of recognition in industry? What do employers think of it? Get information from training schools. Do your research.
Don’t restrict your research to your immediate environment. Because certification is a global trend, it is advisable to visit sponsor’s sites as well as various independent certification support / information sites on the web. You can only take the right decision with a balanced opinion of the real potentials of certification programs that have been identified.
Furthermore, you have to realize that IT certification is not a cure-all. An IT career is more than the acquisition of technical skills and knowledge. An IT professional is incomplete without the right professional attitude. Certification to a large extent focuses on skills and knowledge. Professional Ethics must guide an IT professional when working and interacting with Clients/Customers, his or her organization and society. We must all widen our view that limits professionalism to simply the application of skills, knowledge and experience.
Additionally, for a certification program to be valued and accepted,
there must be a proven connection between accepted work experience and
certification. Is a certification a valid test of an individual’s
ability to demonstrate command over a body of knowledge and apply that
knowledge productively? Or is it “paper certification” which
only demonstrates a person’s ability to cram and pass a test?
Certification must also be seen as a continuous process. You should
continually set new goals and update yourself. To stay ahead, you have
to keep on learning.
All the best in your IT Career,
Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com
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