As harsh as it seems, experience isn't always enough. Author David Fells covers some of the more prominent vendor-neutral certifications available and shows which you might need to keep your career on track.
It is common knowledge that most IT professionals rely on three things to succeed in their respective career paths: communication skills, experience, and certifications. Measuring communication skills and experience is a task that requires hiring managers be excellent judges of character and have exceptional critical thinking and observational skills. The third piece of this puzzle, certifications, is another animal entirely. Certifications try to demonstrate an objective and comprehensive knowledge on a particular subject or set of subjects for the person who obtains it. Ideally, a certificate holder meets the recommendations outlined by the organization that provides the certification program and obtained the certification by use of knowledge obtained in training and practice of those skills.
The point is this: certifications are meant to validate skills and experience. So, what certifications do you need? This article is meant to provide a cursory examination of various vendor-neutral certifications available to IT professionals and discuss the importance of those certifications to hiring managers and solution providers.
While vendor-specific certifications are important today and will continue to play a key role in the future, a new certification model appears to be evolving, one in which solution providers look for vendor-neutral certifications first and add on technology-focused, vendor-specific certifications as needed. This means IT professionals should consider pursuing vendor-neutral certifications to get a foot in the door, then pursue vendor-specific certifications as required or recommended by the employer.
Of all the vendor-neutral certifications available, those gaining the most momentum are security related. Security is now more than ever the number one concern for businesses and solution providers alike, and broad security knowledge is considered a fundamental more than a specialty in our modern high risk computing world. Behind security based certifications are those that establish broad knowledge on a set of fundamental computing skills such as networking, hardware, and operating system basics. These certifications prove that an IT professional understands to some degree the inner workings of the technology he is working with, something that sets your everyday "tech" from a qualified problem solver.