The entire IT industry is full to bursting with qualifications and training courses. We can’t possibly need them all, but depending on your job role, future aspirations and skill set, there could be some very valuable courses to study and learn from. This article hopes to give some advice about what to study, and why.
This article is written from experience earned previously in my career when I studied my MCSA and MCSE. It was a training course I wanted to do and had heard a lot about, but did not realise the full value of it until getting sunk into the course. Through eight months of self-study, I looked back and wondered how I ever did my job properly, working in IT support. Still today I reap the benefits of this course, regardless of the fact it has very little to do with my day-to-day job role.
Speaking with others in the IT industry and researching from credible sources, we have brought together an in-depth report into five prestigious and useful training courses. Before you read on, don’t get put off or confused with training courses with the word ‘administrator’, ‘engineer’ or ‘business’ in them – they are all very much in the scope of IT and could prove vital to your career success.
1. MCSA: The Microsoft Certified System Administrator is a very well-known course in our industry. It is for those who are or would like to be involved with lightweight server and client machine support and system administration. It covers areas such as desktop support for the latest Windows operating systems, server tasks such as managing users, back ups, file services and windows security. The course is highly recognized by employers and would benefit those with job titles such as System Administrator or Support Technican. It would certainly justify you a £25-27000 salary. Other variations of this track depending on budget, time and need would be the Comp TIA, TIA+ or TIA Project+.
2. MCSE or MCITP: The Microsoft Certified System Engineer (or Microsoft Certified IT Professional) is the ‘biggie’ of the Microsoft Certifications and has changed its name a few times over the years between MCSE or MCITP – both of which are recognized by employers. It covers the syllabus of the MCSA, depending on your elective modules and benefits those who want to specialize in Microsoft Servers, networking and detailed desktop support as well as touching on IT strategy. The course content isn’t just Microsoft-centric, with one module covering in-depth networking. It’s a very broad track and will take several months to complete but covers an enormous amount of information and comes highly recommended on the employment ladder. Expect to find a salary between £30-40000 with this. If the entire course is overwhelming, overkill or just not what you need for now, then take a look at Microsoft’s Technical Specialist options – it covers more specific topics and could well count to an MCSE in the future.
3. ITIL Foundation: The IT Infrastructure Library is a worldwide IT framework for the entire life-cycle of IT services such as email solutions, application servers, support teams or even entire IT departments. It takes you through a detailed overview of strategy, design, transition (implementation), operation and continual improvement stages. There are intermediate and advanced courses available if you are to specialize in any of the life-cycle areas but project managers, programme managers and IT managers would find the Foundation level incredibly useful. It reiterates the importance of creating value and positive ROI of everything we implement, when we can often get lost in great ideas. ITIL Foundation is typically a 3-day classroom course and could help your salary reach £40-45000.
4. ISEB Business Analysis: BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT Professionals run the ISEB Business Analysis (BA) courses and examinations. There is a long track from BA essentials to the diploma. The essentials course would prove highly beneficial to those involved with requirements gathering or problem solving. The track extends for those with further skills requirements up to the diploma for those involved with strategic planning and business management. Each lower course is a subset of the final diploma that also includes an oral exam and would stand you in very good stead for a career at the top of IT operations and management. IT Managers and CIOs of SMEs right through to large corporations should certainly have this added to their skill set. Salaries dependant on scope of job role but expect at least £50-55000 with the diploma.
5. Cisco CCNA: The Cisco Certified Network Associateis the qualification to have if you are on track for a successful career in networking. It’s by no means an easy or fast course to complete, but on finishing it you will be granted with a prestigious and invaluable qualification to add to your CV. It’s worldwide recognised and will be beneficial for those interested in contracting – lets face it, networking projects can often be short-term. It covers networking setup, structure and troubleshooting including the in-depth knowledge about IPv4 and IPv6, subnetting and tunnelling. It also covers security, which is a hot topic, network performance and a range of protocols including IP, TCP, Routing Information Protocol and EIGRP. For the full syllabus click here and remember, that there are always lower and higher qualifications if this isn’t quite what you’re after. THe CCENT (Entry Networking Technician) is the more basic course whilst the CCNP (Network Professional) covers an even deeper range of principles.
These courses will really help pave the way for a successful career in the right direction. Of course there are tons of other useful qualifications, including a lot from Apple and Prince2 for the project managers among you. Write to us and tell us of your training experiences, good or bad and why.
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