August 27, 2012, 2:07 PM — Certifications play an important part of any IT professional's career, although there will always be some debate on how important. Certifications are, like most things in life: The more you put into them, the more you will get out. While the actual knowledge you gain on the journey is the true reward, certifications also indicate to employers that you take your job seriously and that you are knowledgeable on the respective technology.
With more than 1,700 professional IT certifications running the gamut of IT technologies, knowing which certifications are the most important for your specialty can seem an insurmountable task. To help you meet the challenge, we've sifted through data from Robert Half Technology to narrow your search and bring you a manageable list of the most relevant IT certifications for the remainder of 2012.
Dice.com, citing Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, reports that Q2 2012 jobless rate for IT techs is at 3.6%, much lower than our national average. In a competitive market, you've got to do everything you can to distinguish yourself from your peers. Certification is an important part of that process. A recent poll asked users why they chose certification. The number one answer--at 51%--was that certification was a way to position themselves for a promotion or potential job.
Knowing Which IT Certification Is Right
Before you jump into a specific certification, there are some important questions that you need to ask yourself about your career goals and objectives:
What demographic of IT do you fall into? (Security, Web Development, Programmer and so on)
What are your career objectives?
What IT career are you most interested in?
What type of resources are needed (i.e. money and time)?
Will this certification have a significant impact on my career?
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Taking the time to think about and document your response to these questions can help solidify your future goals and narrow your list of potential certifications further.
Tip: Once you've identified a role you'd like to advance to, look through Monster, Dice, CareerBuilder and other sites for those positions and see what IT certifications employers are looking for. You may find that on-the-job experience is what employers are searching for in one area of your expertise, so it would be logical to invest your time and money into certification in a different area to further your career goals.
Bonus Tip: You'll find a must-have utility for your IT certification toolbox at GoCertify. The Certification Advisor allows you to plug in your area of expertise, skill level, career goals and more to generate a list of recommended certifications.