I am currently doing my engineering degree in telecommunications. What are the best entry-level cert programs for me to pursue to get a good IT job?
Hi, Ishaan. You mentioned that your degree program is in telecommunications, but many people enter into a field different from the one they studied. First, you need to identify which area of IT you want to end up in.
That said, no qualification will guarantee you any job, let alone a good job. However, entry-level certs can increase your chances of getting your foot in the door.
Foundational cert programs can be divided into support-based, database-related, programming and nontechnical. Some support-based cert programs for you to consider are CompTIA’s A+ and Network+; Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST); Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT); and CWNP’s Wireless#.
Some database-related certs to consider are MySQL’s CMA; Microsoft Certified Application Specialist (MCAS: Using Microsoft Office Access 2007); and any of Oracle’s database administrator credentials.
With regard to entry-level programming certs, the only one that springs to mind is the Sun Certified Java Associate (SCJA).
Entry-level nontechnical certs are becoming more and more important, as IT staff need to have a broader skill set. Some you should consider are ITIL v3 Foundation; Prince2 Foundation; CompTIA Project+; and the ISEB Foundation Certificate in Software Testing.
Also, when looking for your first IT job, don’t discount the importance of networking - the nontechnical kind. And make sure to tailor your resume and cover letter for each company you apply to. Don’t fall into the trap of having a generic set of documents that you send out. Customizing your CV shows you’ve looked into the company and demonstrates your interest.
Telecommunications has focused lately on the integration of the traditional relay switched telephony networks with Voice Over IP (VoIP) and combined telephony messaging offerings. These kinds of offerings are known as “unified communications.” Information technology heavyweights such as Cisco, Microsoft, Alcatel, Nortel and Avaya have been investing heavily in the space with large tiers of new software and hardware offerings.
Note that these offerings are all vendor-centric. Selecting a credential program will be based as much on your customers -or employers- preferred vendors as on your particular area of specialization. Let’s examine the factors that can help you determine which certs are right for you:
- Area of specialty: There are a number of possible sectors in modern telephony, including the “pure” audio private branch exchange (PBX) space, which is a telephone exchange run by a private individual or company, and also the”pure” network-based VoIP offerings.
- Product types: Would you like to specialize in the communications hardware or in the software that makes it possible? Telephony roles often are specialized to a certain portion of the infrastructure delivery. Selecting a hardware-centric role will allow you to narrow your certification search to only those vendors and product lines with hardware offerings. Conversely, a software-centric role may lead you to look at more expansive design and feature certifications from companies such as Microsoft and Cisco.
- Vendor(s): The final step in your certification search is to identify the particular vendors within the space and specialty you would like to concentrate in. For example, if you decide you’d like to focus on hybrid communications and select Microsoft as the vendor, you might pursue a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) in Office Communications Server 2007. Your combination of choices should help guide you to the right credential for you.