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Will IT certs get you jobs and raises? Survey says yes

Posted by Rubel Khan on November 15, 2011

60% of IT professionals surveyed say a certification led to a new job, and half say it gave a salary boost. But some certs are more valuable than others.

By Julie Bort, Network World – November 14, 2011

Debate rages among IT professionals over the value of certifications, but a survey of 700 network professionals jointly conducted by Network World and SolarWinds may help put that argument to rest. Among those who earned certifications, most saw a significant boost in their careers as a result.

Some 60% said a certification led to a new job; 50% said they earned more pay, with 40% saying their pay increased by more than 10% directly because of a certification; and 29% said a cert led to a promotion.

Respondents also offered advice on when to get certifications and which ones to get. Interestingly, they named Cisco certifications as both the most, and the least, valuable.

FULL SURVEY RESULTS: Survey: IT certifications lead to jobs, higher pay 

"I have certifications, and yes they’ve been a big help to me," says Jeff Schoonmaker, a junior network administrator in Portland, Ore., who has a Cisco CCNA, a Microsoft MCITP (Enterprise Desktop Administrator) and the CompTIA A+. Schoonmaker has been an IT professional for a little over a year and says his CCNA helped land him his job and the MCITP has already led to a promotion. He’s working on his CCNP, and when he achieves that, he’ll get another promotion.

"As far as my career is concerned, certifications are huge. I will continue to chase certs from Microsoft and Cisco throughout my career," he says.

Half of respondents said they pursued certifications to get a promotion or to be eligible for a new job. "My company wanted a Microsoft-certified IT manager, so the MCSA helped me get the job I am currently in," said one respondent. "I was able to stay working for a defense contractor when one contract expired by moving to a different contract due to the certifications I held," another said.

Since three-quarters of respondents had certifications, that means one-quarter (26%) saw no value in them. "I have no certs to my name at all. I do have an MBA. I have been in IT hardware and network admin/engineer roles for over a decade now without a single piece of paper related to the field. You learn as you go, better than you learn in some stupid classroom," commented James7360 on a Spiceworks forum.

But James7360 is in the minority. Even network professionals earning the highest wages — more than $110,000 — had as many, or more, certs as those in lower salary brackets.

That’s not to say that the certs themselves are solely responsible for these high salaries. Those earning the most money also had more years of experience (75% had more than 10 years) and more traditional education (25% had a master’s degree, compared to 11% in the lower salary brackets).

But even so, among the highest-paid IT professionals who had certs, 58% said a cert led to a salary boost or bonus, 63% said it led to a promotion, and 30% to a new job. These numbers are similar to those in the lower salary brackets, who also overwhelmingly said that certs lead to a salary boost or bonus (55%), new job (62%), or promotion (27%).

Those earning the highest wages, $110,000 or more a year, were also more likely to have particularly difficult (and expensive) certifications, like the CCIE, RHCE or CISSP.

"I have had a certification lead to a new job or promotion, the CISSP, which isn’t even a technical certification. It really teaches how to control and translate security into business objectives. But it is required for a lot of security jobs and has requirements like ongoing education in order to maintain it," says Lee Eddy II, a senior security analyst in Redwood City, Calif., with more than 10 years of experience as an IT professional. The CISSP helped Eddy land a job with a big salary increase, and is mandated for most of the higher-paid jobs in his field, he says.

The value of a certification clearly depends on a lot of factors. Some hiring managers want them more than others, and timing is an issue, too.

"I’d have to say certs tend to be more valuable when they are coupled with the building of experience," says Craig Norborg, a network engineer for Trowbridge & Trowbridge, Albuquerque, N.M., with more than 15 years of experience and a variety of certs, including the CCNP, CCDA, MCSE, SCP (Solarwinds Certified Professional) and others.

"If you get them too early, people think they’re book certs. If you get them too late, you’re just proving what you already know, which may not be required," Norborg points out. "Employers are pretty suspicious of many high-end certs from a young person, or someone just entering the field."

The difficulty of the certs and the type of technology they cover can also add value – or not. "My MCSE hasn’t really done anything for me. My last two employers actually would rather I not touch servers, but instead specialize in networking," Norborg says. Note that for Windows Server 8 and beyond, Microsoft has discontinued its umbrella MCSE certification in favor of a range of technology-specific, MCITP certs.

In a survey of network professionals, it’s not surprising that certifications on network technology were the most popular and deemed the most valuable. Some 67% of respondents had earned one, with Cisco certifications far and away the most popular. Forty-four percent of those making more than $110,000 had the ultra-hard (and expensive) CCIE. Among those with lower salaries, only 4% had earned it. Microsoft certs were held by 39% overall, and the CompTIA Network+ by almost one quarter.

Cisco certifications were named the most valuable – leading to more promotions, new jobs or pay raises than any other. But, oddly, Cisco certifications were also named among the least valuable.

"I do think networking certifications are the most valuable when coupled with some real-world experience. I wouldn’t have gotten my last two positions without them," Norborg says. "It also depends on the cert itself. CCNA is OK. CCNP, CCDA and CCDP are better. I’m sure CCIE is even better, but once again, they’d be suspicious of a very young person with one."

Eddy adds: "The reason Cisco certs are seen as most valuable and least valuable is that it depends on the certification. The CCNA is entry-level and easy to get, but the CCIE is still hard and a lot of employers want it."

Security certifications also came in strong. Over one-third of respondents had one, with the CompTIA Security+ the most common. Among respondents making more than $110,000 annually, security certifications were held by 38%, particularly the CCSP, earned by 36% of this group. In comparison, only 9% of those making less than $110,000 had the CCSP but 32% had the CompTIA Security+.

The least popular certifications were for network management technology – only 17% of our 700 respondents had one. While network management is often categorized as a mid-level job, surprisingly, those that earned the biggest salaries, over $110,000, were far more likely to have one (40%) than those under $110,000 (22%).

Linux certifications and sysadmin/virtualization certifications came in as middle of the pack in both popularity and value.

Least popular of all were certs involving virtualization technology from Citrix or Red Hat.

Beyond jobs and promotions, some certification holders felt that certs had other value. One said, "As I’m the only member of IT staff here, people have become aware of the more complicated jobs I perform here, having seen the certifications I’ve passed."

Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents said they chose to get a certification simply to learn about the technology, not to pocket more dough. While no one argues that a cert is more valuable than hands-on experience, "they can be helpful when implementing a new technology," Eddy says. "One of the things I like to negotiate with a new purchase order is that the vendor throws in the certification on their product."

He also says he gets the most value out of live classroom training. In a group setting, people will experience and troubleshoot a wider variety of problems as they learn. It will also help you build a network of other users to call on when you need it.

For more details on which certifications impact jobs and pay, see the full survey results.

Posted in Adobe, Autodesk, Certification, CISCO, Citrix, CompTIA, EC-Council, Exam, HP Learning, MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft, Microsoft Certifications, MOS, MTA, NetApp, Novell, Oracle, Sun, Tech Companies, Virtualization, VMWare | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Suggestions for Taking a High-Stakes IT Exam #Certification #Exam #Preparation

Posted by Rubel Khan on November 11, 2011

Part I: Exam Prep By Janet Pinkerton

1) Know your exam. Carefully read the exam description details to build your exam prep strategy. What are exam objectives or subjects covered? What question formats will be used: multiple-choice, simulated scenarios, essays or fill in the blank? How many questions will be in each exam section? How much time is given to complete the exam? How will the exam be graded?

2) Ask yourself: What kind of learner am I? How much do I know? Answering these questions can help you decide what tools to use to prepare for the exam. Test prep options include assessment software, instructor-led training, eLearning, books for classroom use and self-study, and computer-based materials.

3) Dedicate Time to Prepare. Give yourself a matter of weeks, not days, for preparation. Create and commit to a realistic schedule of study time blocks that are less likely to be disrupted by work or life events. Aim for balance with time management. If you neglect your personal or work life, you may add unwanted stress that will make it more difficult to study effectively.

4) Study in short blocks of time. Experts say the maximum human attention span is about 45 minutes and the average is about 20 to 30 minutes. Be good to yourself and take long breaks between study times.

5) Use multiple study/preparation resources, especially if you are a beginner. No single exam preparation resource is the best at covering every exam subject. Each has its strengths and weaknesses—both in approach and subject coverage. Using multiple preparation resources will help ensure that you cover all the subjects contained in a high-stakes exam.

6) Use high-quality preparation resources. For CompTIA certification exams, study with books and study guides reviewed by industry experts and approved by CompTIA through the CompTIA Approved Quality Content (CAQC) program. These materials are considered the best resource for self-study for an exam. Use the Search form here to find CAQC Study Materials. Be careful when purchasing study guides from second-hand sellers (on eBay or Craigslist, for example); make sure the materials directly apply to the exam you plan to take.

7) Drill, Baby, Drill! Drill with sample questions and exams to identify problem areas where more study is needed and reinforce the information you already understand. Sample questions for CompTIA exams can be obtained here. You can also purchase and practice questions online with authorized providers of certification practice tests. Beware of websites offering “exact copies” of real exam questions; experts say these typically provide no educational value and are often incorrect.

8) Time yourself. Timed exam practice help you get used to taking exams under time pressure.

9) Get Hands-on! Give yourself plenty of hands-on IT experience to reinforce study prep and also to prepare for long-term career success. Hands-on experience can range from working on projects in a home or school lab to shadowing experienced computer or network IT “gurus.”

10) Be Proactive and Think Positive. Exam anxiety is common, but careful preparation through study, drills and hands-on experience can dissolve the fears involved with high-stakes testing. If you are anxious about the exam environment itself, get information from your testing center about what to expect, what’s allowed, what’s prohibited in the testing room. Some testing centers even offer a “test drive” —a chance to experience the test center and go through all the testing procedures before the actual exam.

Source: CompTIA Blog

Posted in Certification, CISCO, CompTIA, Exam, MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft, Microsoft Certifications, MOS, MTA | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

New Delivery Model for #Microsoft #SharePoint2010 #MCM Certification

Posted by Rubel Khan on August 22, 2011

Starting in January 2012, Microsoft will expand the delivery methods for the SharePoint Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) program to include a "hybrid" delivery model that includes both onsite and remote training. Read more about this new training delivery model. Visit the registration site for more details and training schedule.

Posted in Certification, Exam, MCM, Microsoft, SharePoint 2010 | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Microsoft is Introducing Enhanced Transcripts and Certificates!

Posted by Rubel Khan on March 29, 2011

Over the next couple of weeks, Microsoft will be updating their certification transcripts and certificates, and you’ll probably notice some small but in some cases significant changes.  For the full scoop and a sneak peek at the new look, keep reading!

Changes to Transcripts

Based on customer feedback, Microsoft is consolidating the certifications on your transcripts, uniquely identifying each of them, and adding an inactive date where appropriate. They will explain in detail, but first let’s do a before-and-after comparison:

Old Transcript

New Transcript

Notice how clean the new transcript looks on the right with certifications consolidated by track (MCITP, MCTS, MCSA: Security).  This should make your transcript much easier for you, your clients and employers to read and understand.

Next, notice how they’ve organized all the various versions of, for example, MCTS underneath the “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist” heading. Again, that’s to make the transcript easier to follow. Microsoft will call the top-level boldface certifications your “certification tracks,” and the different flavors underneath are your individual “certifications.” In the example above, “Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist” is a certification track with two certifications (“SQL Server 2005” and “Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, Configuration” underneath it.

Now some new pieces of information Microsoft is adding for each certification include:

1. Technology – This is the version of the product you’re certified on, for example Windows Server 2008.

2. Certification Number – This is like a serial number, uniquely identifying each certification you earn. It’s not your MCP ID—that’s your personal identifier—and it’s not the same thing as an exam number either. Someone else who earns the exact same certification will still have their own unique certification number—no two certification numbers are alike. (In case you’re wondering, certification numbers will be randomly generated—there’s no rhyme or reason to the numbers assigned). Microsoft is adding this field because it’s required for their ISO 17024 certification (yes, even certification programs can be certified themselves!), but the cool thing about it is that it gives them the potential to modify their transcript sharing tool down the line so that you can enable people to verify an individual certification without sharing your entire transcript (but that’s in the future).

3. Inactive Date – This is a big change: many of thier certifications now feature an “inactive date” which signifies either that your certification is no longer in mainstream demand, that Microsoft no longer supports the product on which the certification is based, or that you have not met recertification requirements (if any). You won’t always see this field on your transcript—only if and when they have determined an inactive date for that certification. For affected certifications, you’ll start seeing inactive dates show up in June. (You can find more information on inactive dates here.)

Let’s take a moment to discuss the Inactive Date, because I’m sure that some of you are reading that phrase and thinking “that’s Microsoft-speak for decertification date.” It isn’t—in fact, even if all of your certifications go inactive, you’ll still have access to your MCP benefits, and your inactive certifications will still appear on your transcript. All that’s changing is that Microsoft is signaling to you, your clients, and employers that these particular certifications have outlived their market relevance.  Just to clarify what they mean by market relevance is that in most cases Microsoft isn’t even supporting the technology through mainstream support.  In other cases, it may be that the way that the technology was used (many years ago or with cloud it could even be a few months ago) when it was first released has changed, because we all know that technology is ever evolving and changing at such a rapid pace.  This means the certification may have validated how to use the technology in a different way and since then we have not re-validated the skills necessary to use the technology in the market.

Changes to Certificates

Microsoft is making three small changes to their certificates, two of which mirror the changes they are making to the transcripts, specifically the certification number and inactive date. However, Microsoft is also adding a new piece of information that’s on your transcript today but not on your certificate: your certification achievement date. In other words, your certificate will now display the date on which you earned your certification. See below for an example of what this will look like:

If you’ve already printed or ordered your certificates, that’s fine—there’s no need for you to print or order replacements. (You can if you want to, of course, but the standard shipping fees apply if you choose to order one.) Just like with the transcripts, you’ll see these new changes in April (with the exception of the Inactive Dates, which will begin populating in June).

So that’s the complete rundown of what’s changing… so what do you think?


Posted in Certification, MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft Certifications, MOS, MTA | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

A New Path to Microsoft Certified Master in SQL Server 2008

Posted by Rubel Khan on November 15, 2010

SQL Server experts worldwide who have the skills, knowledge, and experience now have a better opportunity to prove it. With the new Microsoft Master program for SQL Server 2008, training is now optional and the required exams are available at selected high-security Prometric testing centers around the world. Microsoft is offering a variety of ways to prepare for the exams at your convenience, and they ensured that the quality and integrity of the certification remain at the same high level. If you have what it takes to become an MCM in SQL Server 2008, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.

Posted in Certification, MCM, Microsoft Certifications, SQL Server | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Just Getting Started? Tools for Aspiring IT Pros

Posted by Rubel Khan on September 6, 2010

If you’re an aspiring IT Pro, there are a number of ways you can enter the IT job market. The most common entry-level position is known as the Consumer Support Technician (CST).

The CST job role (also referred to as Help Desk, Desktop or End User Support) is typically found in a small to medium-sized organization, or in a larger enterprise as tier-1-level support. In the CST role, you will provide assistance to users of a wide range of desktop operating systems, applications, and mobile devices. In doing so, you’ll gain expertise in network, virus, malicious software and hardware support issues. This experience serves as valuable preparation for your next step as an administrator or enterprise-level support technician.

So where do you start? If you are completely new to the IT field, start by obtaining the key skills needed for the CST position. Microsoft offers comprehensive learning plans to help you acquire CST skills on Windows operating systems (Windows 7, Vista and XP).

Once you’ve received training, you can prove your expertise by taking a Microsoft Certification exam, and you’ll have Microsoft’s endorsement to show potential employers. Earning a Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Customer Support Technician credential proves that you have demonstrated proficiency in the on-the-job skills required to succeed in a Windows-based CST position, and differentiates you from the rest of the non-certified pack. In fact, certification is typically a requirement or key hiring criterion for many IT job roles.

But don’t stop there: continue to look for opportunities to obtain real-world experience in configuring and troubleshooting desktop operating systems, applications, hardware and networks. As IT continues to grow into increasingly larger areas of business and everyday life, staying current on security issues will be key – and demand for consumer support will likely grow as a result.

So what are you waiting for?…

Other Key Resources and Links:

· Desktop Support Technician Salary info

· Consumer Support Technician Job Role

· MSL Windows Client Training Portal

· Special Offers page

Posted in Certification, MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft Certifications, MOS, MTA | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Do You Work for a Microsoft Partner? We Have a Special Certification Offer Just for You

Posted by Rubel Khan on September 6, 2010

If you work for a partner you’re probably aware of the new program requirements that we touched on a few weeks ago here. You and your co-workers may also be sweating having to get caught up on the latest technologies prior to your re-enrollment date in order for your company to maintain your competencies. To help make this process a little easier for you, we created a special Competency Exam Pack offer – you can save up to 30% plus get free retakes on each exam:

· 3-Pack – Save 20% plus a free retake on each exam

· 5-Pack – Save 25% plus a free retake on each exam

· 8-Pack – Save 30% plus a free retake on each exam

Perhaps the best part of these Competency Exam Packs is that you can split them up amongst different people within your organization. For example, do you want to help your company become one of the first to earn a Gold competency under the new program? You will likely need 4 people MCITP certified – so an 8-pack is a great offer for you (2 exams per person, plus free retakes). If you’re just looking to re-enroll in your existing competencies, the 3-pack is great for 1 competency, 5-pack for 2 and 8-pack for 3.

How do you get started? Visit our Prometric offer page for full terms and conditions and an FAQ to help answer those tricky questions. Once you’ve purchased your Exam Pack, you’ll get an email within 2 business days with your voucher codes. We’ll be selling these packs until December 31, 2010 and all exams need to be taken by June 30, 2011. All IT Pro, Developer and Dynamics exam qualify at worldwide prometric testing centers.

Meeting the new requirements doesn’t need to be a chore – get it done and start showcasing your credentials on the latest and greatest technologies!

Posted in Certification, MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft Certifications, MOS, MTA | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Help Shape the Future of Technology: Microsoft User Research Needs Certified Folks

Posted by Rubel Khan on September 6, 2010

Many of you have been involved in beta testing new versions of Microsoft’s software products. But have you ever considered getting involved earlier in the process, before all the features and functionality are locked? Microsoft’s User Research group is specifically interested in finding more CERTIFIED individuals to give feedback on new products and services.* You can get a sneak peek at the earliest versions, while providing guidance and direction for the product development. Participants may also receive a new Microsoft hardware or software gratuity for participating in specific studies.

Don’t live in the Redmond area? Not a problem. Many of the usability studies can now be done remotely.

Sign up today to be eligible for an invitation to participate in a usability study, focus group, survey, or other research study.

*Microsoft is not talking about Microsoft Learning products here, They are talking about SQL Server, Windows client, Windows Server, Exchange, etc.–the big products, small products, and everything in between. For invitations to Microsoft Learning usability studies, make sure you fill out your Microsoft Learning SME Profile.

Posted in MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft, Microsoft Certifications, Microsoft Learning, MOS, MTA | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What to expect when taking an exam (Microsoft)

Posted by Rubel Khan on September 6, 2010

Thinking about taking a Microsoft Certification Exam?

Or perhaps one of your friends / colleagues / students is thinking of taking an exam?

What tools are available when you take an exam, how do you maneuver? 

When you take an exam you should not need to worry about any of that.


Here’s a ‘snack’ that you can use to get an idea of what to expect.

Posted in Certification, Exam, Learning Snacks, MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft Certifications, MOS, MTA, SnackBox | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Career Packs: Second Shot + discount!

Posted by Rubel Khan on August 19, 2010

Heads up if you are planning your next career/certification steps right now: Microsoft Certification Packs with Free Second Shots can help you get your Certification, validate your knowledge, launch your career, or move to your next position. Purchase packs of one to five exams along with free re-takes on every exam purchased and save up to 20%.

That’s right, using a Certification Pack you can take a Second Shot at each exam you take; should you fail the exam you can simply try again without any additional cost. And the certification packs also include a discount. See the table below which can help you choose the exam pack that is right for you:

Certification pack


Second Shot

5-exam pack


Included with each exam

4-exam pack


Included with each exam

3-exam pack


Included with each exam

2-exam pack


Included with each exam


Regular price

Add 15% to single exam price*


*If you prefer to purchase just one exam with a Second Shot offer, note that an additional 15 percent will be added to the price of the exam. For instance, with the cost of an exam at US$125, you can purchase one exam plus a Second Shot at US$143.75.

So how do you get the most out of this offer? Well, here’s my quick and dirty FAQ and please find more details on this exciting offer here. Basically, if you start planning your next steps in certification today you will have 10 months; if you register and buy a certification pack now, you should plan to sit for all exams in the packs by 6/30/2011. The offer is available worldwide through Prometric; certification packs can be bought in one single purchase where you pay for the pack upfront. Exams within packs cannot be split-up amongst multiple customers. All Microsoft Certification exams with a prefix of ‘070’ or ‘MB-X’ are eligible.


Posted in Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Dynamics GP, Dynamics NAV, Exam, MCAD, MCITP, MCM, MCPD, MCSA, MCSE, MCT, MCTS, Microsoft, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Learning, MOS, MTA | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »


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