You NEED Technical Certifications!
CompTIA (pronounced "comp-tee-uh") is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to creating certification exams that are hugely meaningful to IT organizations and their employees.
We say that CompTIA is "vendor neutral" or "agnostic" to technology companies. What we mean is that CompTIA does not write certification exams that are Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, Apple or other technology-company-specific. Instead, all of CompTIA's certification exams are technology-specific: computer support, servers, security, project management, and so forth.
Almost all CompTIA certifications end with a plus sign (+). Thus there are A+, Network+, Linux+, Server+, Security+, Project+, Cloud+ and other certification exams, each of which is specific to a given technology area. Some CompTIA certifications, such as IT Fundamentals, do not have a plus sign after their name. Go figure.
CompTIA's certifications are recognized by employers all over the world as representing diligent effort on the part of the certification holder to have studied hard and passed a very comprehensive and difficult exam or exams. Given two job candidates who have equally impressive education and work skills, one without any CompTIA certs, the other with, the person with the certs is likely to get the nod (unless, of course, they somehow blow the interview).
When you get ready to take a CompTIA certification exam, you have to take them through an authorized testing center such as Pearson VUE. The tests are expensive, averaging over $250 per exam. Fortunately for you, Warren Tech is a CompTIA Education Partner, and so you get drastically reduced exam prices. (You purchase what are called "vouchers" that allow you to take the exam.) The tests are pass/fail: you either pass them or fail them: there's no in-between grade. If you pass one you're good to go, if you fail it, you have to back and re-take it again (and pay the fee again).
There are other technical certifications you will need to think about obtaining if you want to work in IT. But CompTIA is, by far, the most important area of focus for you when you are first starting out.
Here's a tiny bit of detail about each of the exams you can study for here at Warren Tech:
IT Fundamentals - This is the entry-level course that you will need to go through. We will start this course semester one of the day you start attending Warren Tech. It represents a good, comprehensive overview of IT and how the whole thing fits together. Plus, it does a good job of getting you into CompTIA by allowing a little easier exam to be your first foray into the world of technical certifications. Ideally, unless you are going to go into a CS degree program and you do not anticipate working in an IT shop, you really want to make it your top effort to earn as many certs as possible.
Cloud+ - The Cloud+ exam is an beginner-level exam for neophyte technologists. We think it is so important that you will begin studying for the Cloud+ exam right after you finish your IT Fundamentals coursework. Cloud+ is one of two CompTIA exams that deal with the cloud, the other being Cloud Essentials.
A+ - Someone who wants to work in IT as a computer maintenance and repair technician should start out by obtaining their A+ certification. This is the flagship exam most entry-level IT folks earn. In reality, it's actually two exams: Essentials, and Practical Applications. When you study for the A+ exam you'll learn everything you ever wanted to know about computers and more: power supplies, motherboards, RAM, peripherals, OS's, Linux, security, etc.
Network+ - This exam covers all of the elements of networking: TCP/IP, the OSI model, LAN/WAN, wireless, and so on. Generally speaking, most people who want to work in the industry get their Network+ exam after they obtain their A+ certification. You really want to have both A+ and Network+ on your resume.
Linux+ - Linux is an operating system (OS) that runs the computer. (Linux is actually available in a bunch of different flavors such as Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Suse and others.) The advantage of Linux is that it's open-source, meaning that it's (usually) free, that people in the IT community are free to make changes to it and that it's updated more regularly than say Windows. While Linux isn't very prevalent in the desktop market, it's definitely big in the server arena, as well as in smartphones and tablets. This exam covers all of the essentials of Linux - stuff that will make you smarter than nearly everyone around you when it comes to this OS.
Security+ - Are you interested in cybersecurity as a career? If so, that's a good thing because the field is wide open and there are tons of great-paying jobs. However, the topic is technically very wide and very deep. CompTIA's Security+ certification is a great entry point for individuals that think they would like to get into the field of cybersecurity, or for those folks who would just generally like to be more intelligent about the field.
CompTIA Comprehensive Technical Certification Roadmap - Page 1
CompTIA Comprehensive Technical Certification Roadmap - Page 2
Other Certifications to Think About
There are some other certifications (lovingly called "certs") that you will be thinking about later on. In fact, there are a bazillion of them. But here are a few of the more important ones:
- Cisco Certifications
- Microsoft Technical Certifications
- Oracle Certifications
- Linux Certifications
- Apple Service Certification Exams
And so on.
What? No Programming Certifications?
All of the above-listed certifications are primarily dealing with hardware and operating systems (OSs). However, what if you want to be a programmer? Are there certifications you should be thinking about?
Well, yes, actually. Not many, but some:
- This PluralSight article points to some of the developer (e.g. programmer) certs you might want to think about.
Fortunately for you (again), Warren Tech Computer Science has a PluralSight subscription! You can go through as much training as your brain can hold. You can go through the courseware at home, at school, anywhere that you might be, as long as you have connectivity. (Poet, and don't know it.)
PluralSight may well be the best technical training distance-learning system on the planet.