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Industry certifications are the starting for technical skills in iT. Certifications are credentials achieved through a testing process, with the goal of verifying your expertise in a particular job area (e.g., web development) or technology (e.g., the Vista operating system).

Certifications = the industry standard 
Hiring managers view certified professionals as more credible and committed to an iT career. Initial compensation is almost always higher, and promotion is commonly granted when a professional becomes more specialized and able to handle higher-level management functions.

Many iT specializations require basic systems understanding to move to the next level of skills development. A common certification is A+, which provides foundation knowledge in hardware and software technologies as a background to becoming an entry-level technician in networking, systems administration or other specialties. Advanced certifications take you the next level.

Know iT... prove iT... with certification
There are three general categories of iT certification: 

  • Vendor-neutral certification: These certifications validate general computer skills and are usually aimed at new entrants to the industry; they are commonly established by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). For example, CompTIA Network+ validates the knowledge and skills of networking professionals, while CompTIA Linux+ validates the expertise of individuals with a minimum of six to 12 months of practical Linux experience. The new CompTIA Printing and Document Imaging (PDI+) measures the ability to supporting print and document imaging devices such as printers, scanners and copiers.
  • Vendor-specific certification: These certifications are the most common. They confirm a foundational ability to administer, manage and troubleshoot the tools and software provided by a specific vendor, such as Microsoft or Cisco.
  • Internal certification: These certifications are set up by a company to prove a candidate�s ability to perform specific skills needed for a job. Requirements can vary greatly and, since only individual companies require them, these certifications do not hold as much influence as the others outside the company itself.

To help you choose the right certification for your career goals, you can browse over 250 different certifications listed in the online certification database maintained by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

Key Facts

>In a recent Gartner Group study, 83% of respondents found that certification was helpful in finding a new position

>Certified professionals make 5-15% more than non-certified peers

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