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Top 10 Certifications to Begin Your IT Career

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Are you just starting out in IT, or looking for a way to begin an IT career? The following certifications will help you verify and learn the skills needed to find a job in IT. Once you have one of these, you can begin to gain the experience and higher certifications that will land you a great IT career.

1. CompTia A+

At the top of the list, the A+ certification is one of the most popular ways for people to break into the computer biz. The A+ certifies you as a computer technician and covers topics such as hardware, OS, and networking. 6 months of technician experience is recommended and two exams are required. Both exams lend themselves nicely to self study. So get a good book and sign up to get your A+ certification.

2. Microsoft Certified Professional

To get any Microsoft certification, this will be the first stepping stone. You will be an MCP once you take your first exam and until you complete the exams needed for any other Microsoft certification (MCSD, MCSE, etc.).

3. Microsoft Certified Desktop Service Technician

If you like to troubleshoot, then this certification is for you. You'll take two exams and then be able to support end user desktop systems.

4. CompTia Security+

Two years of networking experience is recommended for this certification so the true IT newbie might be in over their head with this one. However, security is a big issue and if you have the familiarity to take the one exam required, the Security+ cert works as a prerequisite for the MCSA and CNE.

5. CIW Associate

If you are into internet technologies and would like to define your skills, then go for the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) certification. The Associate level requires only one exam called the Foundation exam, which covers html, dhtml, networking, graphics, and internet history. From there you can advance to the Professional and Master CIW levels.

6. Sun Certified Java Programmer

This is the first step to higher Java certifications and will prove your skills as a Java programmer on the Java 2 Platform, Standard Edition. You must understand the fundamentals of the language so get a good book and maybe a training class before taking the exam.

7. CCNA or CCDA

Both of these certifications will require some dedicated training if you are new to IT. These will be tough for those considering a career change, but well worth the effort. Cisco certifications are popular and respected. Once you have the experience to back up the cert, you will be able to move on to the advanced Cisco certifications.

8. Microsoft Office Specialist

If you have experience with Microsoft Office products, you can achieve a Microsoft Office Specialist certification on any one product such as Word, or Excel by taking a single exam. A Master designation requires several exams and comprehensive knowledge of multiple products.

9. MySQL

One exam and knowledge of basic SQL and MySQL software will get you this certification. An additional exam and more advanced SQL skills will get you a Professional level certification.

10. Graphics & Internet Certifications

Finally, there are several good certifications for graphic designers and web developers. Most of these are vendor-specific and typically require one exam. Check with the product vendor you work with (or want to work with) and see if they have a certification program. Also check with associations such as WebYoda and WOW.
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