How IT certifications can pay off for IT pros

Picking and choosing the right IT certification courses could earn high-tech workers more cash.

Technology adoption trends around virtualization, wireless and more could drive demand for IT professionals with up-to-date IT certification credentials.

IT certifications help high-tech workers prove their expertise in network, security and system fundamentals as well as vendor-specific technologies from the likes of Cisco, Microsoft and VMware. Understanding how to choose the IT certification that employers want now could enable employed IT professionals to earn more and kick-start a high-tech job search.

5 hot IT certification picks for 2010

“All of the work that we and others in the certification industry is about jobs. We have got to get people employed. IT certification is part of the unemployment solution,” says Terry Erdle, senior vice president of skills certification at CompTIA (Computer Technology Industry Association). “IT is a central component in fixing the unemployment problem when you have a knowledge and information economy. IT certification programs build the U.S. economy.”

And certain IT certifications help high-tech workers earn more in salaries and other compensation. A recent survey conducted by Dice Learning used responses from 17,000 IT professionals to determine what certifications it pays to have. According to the survey, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (MCSE), Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCP) and Microsoft Certified Administrators (MCSA) were listed among the IT certifications that pay more in a tough economy.

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IT professionals trained as Cisco Certified Network Associates (CCNA) are also seeing bigger paychecks, according to this research. Having the “ability to install, configure, run and troubleshoot medium-sized routed and switched networks” is paying off for CCNAs, who by getting this IT certification also prove they can handle security and wireless technologies as well as a number of network protocols.

“For the past couple of years, the economy has been a challenging space, but from a purely technical education standpoint it has been a positive market,” says Fred Weiller, director of marketing for Learning@Cisco.

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Foote Partners founder, CEO and chief research officer David Foote, shared a list of unranked IT certifications that could be considered “hot” in the coming months. Foote says: “Here is a list of some certs, we believe should be considered hot, in that they are in-demand and more useful for job/career opportunities going forward.”

• VMware Certified Professional (VCP)

• Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

• GIAC Security Audit Essentials (GSAE)

• Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

• Check Point Certified Security Expert (CCSE)

• Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA)

• Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer - Security (MCSE-Security)

• Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP)

• GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA)

• Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

• Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP)

• Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)

• Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA)

• Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (not all specializations)

• Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)

• Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT)

• ITIL V3 Foundations

• Sun Certified Programmer for Java

• Avaya Certified Expert

• Avaya Certified Specialist

Wanted: IT case studies with a twist. Have an interesting high-tech experience that doesn’t seem to fit the standard case study mold? How has technology helped you or your client accomplish some unexpected goals? Network World has chronicled stories ranging from a deliberately spammed housewife to an 11-year-old network manager and we’re in search of more. Please share with me your tips on offbeat end-user experiences with high-tech tools at ddubie@nww.com.

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