1. Technology

In-Demand Technical Certifications for 2012

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Certifications continue to be both one of the primary methods used by employers to identify qualified candidates for IT jobs, and one of the best tools for the candidate to use in getting those jobs. And while it's true that unemployment rates in IT continue to be significantly lower than the general unemployment index both in the U.S. and globally, it still makes a lot of sense for IT professionals to find ways to stand out from, and above, the competition.

So the question is – what certifications will enjoy the most demand in 2012? More to the point, what certifications make the most sense for you? The answer to that question, of course, depends in large part on your particular career goals and objectives. But even with that in mind, the fact remains that some certifications are in greater demand than others, and understanding which certifications enjoy the greatest demand will help you to determine your personal certification path.

To help you in crafting your personal certification strategy, here are some of the certifications that are expected to be most in demand in 2012:

1. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Computer technicians working in server room
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Demand for project management skills continues to increase, especially as IT projects continue to increase in complexity. The PMP has emerged as one of the most in-demand certifications today, precisely because it demonstrates proficiency in managing those complex projects. The PMP test itself is rigorous, and maintaining the certification requires ongoing testing and effort, which makes the PMP certification all the more valuable to potential employers.

2. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP certification demonstrates knowledge of IT security across a number of domains, covering everything from network security to application security to formation and management of security policies for the enterprise. The CISSP also requires more than simply passing a test to maintain the certification - those who hold the certification are required to demonstrate on-going experience and education in the field of IT security over time.

3. Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)

According to a recent survey by jobs site Dice.com, 8 out of 10 respondents indicated that hiring Linux talent was a priority for 2012, and Red Hat Linux continues to make serious headway in the enterprise. The RHCE is a challenging certification to obtain, and requires advanced knowledge of a range of Red Hat systems administration tasks. The RHCE becomes even more valuable with the completion of any of a number of optional Certificates of Expertise, which cover a range of topics such as system clustering and virtualization.

4. VMware Certified Professional (VCP)

Virtualization has been a very hot area in IT for years now, and demand for IT professionals with virtualization skills will only continue to increase throughout 2012 and beyond. While there are a number of options for virtual platforms in today's marketplace, most private clouds (and many public clouds) in the enterprise utilize VMware as their preferred virtualization platform. The VCP demonstrates a level of proficiency in provisioning, maintaining and supporting VMware-based virtualization platforms, and indicates a level of general proficiency in virtualization as an IT skill.

5. Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional (MCITP)

Microsoft certifications continue to be in high demand, because Microsoft continues to enjoy a strong presence in the corporate computing landscape. Like its predecessor the MCSE, the MCITP candidate can choose to specialize in a number of different domains, from desktop support to server administration to a number of specific applications, like Exchange and Lync. Some of the most valuable MCITP specializations include virtualization on the Microsoft Hyper-V platform, and SharePoint Server administration, to name a couple.

6. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) v3 Foundation

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation certification demonstrates knowledge of the ITIL framework, which has evolved into the de facto standard for IT management in many enterprises. Companies are on the lookout for those who can demonstrate knowledge of ITIL and IT service management, especially as corporate IT organizations begin to treat IT more like a business by introducing service management standards and practices.

7. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)

The CCIE continues to be the gold standard of networking certifications, and its value is demonstrated in the continuing demand for CCIE professionals. The CCIE certification process is tough – the test consists of both a written exam and a practical lab-based exam, and only a very small percentage of applicants pass both tests the first time, with the average candidate requiring 2.5 attempts before they pass. Because of that, employers value those who do successfully complete the certification, and are willing to pay a premium for their services.

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