The 10 best IT certifications: 2013

What are the hottest, top in-demand IT certifications for this year? Not surprisingly, job candidates with certifications in security and cloud computing are hugely attractive to employers.

But basic knowledge on systems planning, development, and maintenance are attractive to employers, too. Here are the certifications employers are most likely to pay you well for in 2013.


An acronym for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, the ITIL training offers four levels of distinction: Foundation, Intermediate, Expert, and Master. The certification involves learning how to identify, plan, deliver, and support an IT department. It focuses on how IT can be used to grow and develop the business.
Professionals with the ITIL Foundation V3 will be able to improve services of the business, reduce operating costs for their employers, improve the company’s customer satisfaction ratings, and increase the productivity of other departments.


A Certified Information Systems Security Professional, or CISSP, has to have five years experience in at least two of ten domains to qualify. The exam covers all ten of the domains:
Security consultant
Security manager
IT director or manager
Security auditor
Security architect
Security analyst
Security systems engineer
Chief information security officer
Director of security
Network architect
The certification process ensures competence in managing risks inherent in doing business online, cloud computing security, mobile device security, and application development security.

3. A+

A+ is a more basic certification, and opens up job opportunities for IT professionals such as:
Service technicians for major computer manufacturers
Technical support
Field service technicians
IT support technicians
IT support administrators
IT support specialists
The certification process covers basic PC maintenance, how to network to mobile devices, laptop computers, operating systems, printers, and general networking. In order to get A+ certified, candidates must take two exams. The certification is good for three years and continuing education classes and exams are necessary to retain the certification after that point.


A Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, or MCSE, is in demand worldwide. Jobs for working on the premises as well as jobs in cloud computing are open to bearers of this designation. There are several available MCSE certifications offered:
Server infrastructure
Desktop infrastructure
Private cloud computing
Data platform
Business intelligence
Share Point
Of course, you can take as many of these as you like. Every MCSE certification is valuable to employers and a candidate with multiple certifications is always going to stand ahead of those with only one or two designations.


The Microsoft Certified Information Technology Professional, or MCITP, certification doesn’t require continuing education. These certifications are good as long as businesses continue to use the products. These certifications open up job opportunities for database administration, enterprise messaging administration, and many others. There are six possible MCITP certifications to choose from:
Windows Client
Windows Server
Microsoft Share Point
Microsoft SQL Server
Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft Lync
As with MCSE certifications, it’s recommended for job candidates to get as many of these certifications as possible to improve their desirability with employers.

6. Security+

Internationally recognized, the Security + certification is completely vendor neutral, which means it opens up job opportunities in any industry or company. The certification process requires two years experience in tech networking with an emphasis on security. It involves a 90 minute exam with no more than 100 questions. Questions are a mix of multiple choice and performance based questions. There are several areas of expertise tested in the certification exam, including:
Network security
Compliance and operations
Threats and vulnerabilities
Application, data and host security
Access control and identification management

7. PMP

Qualified project managers are a tremendous need for employers, making the PMP (Project Management Professional) certification very attractive. Having this certification allows job candidates to command a higher salary and opens job opportunities that wouldn’t be available without it.
In order to apply for PMP certification, you must have five years experience in project management with a diploma or associates degree, plus 7,500 hours directing a project and 35 hours of project management education. Applicants with a 4-year college degree, Bachelor’s degree, or international equivalent need to have 4,500 hours leading projects plus 35 hours of project management education to qualify.

The CCNA certification, or Cisco Certified Network Associate, is an entry-level certification for network engineers. Certified associates have a demonstrated ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot all medium-sized networks operating on routers or switches. This certification opens up job opportunities such as:
Network specialist
Network administration
Network support engineer
In order to apply for CCNA certification, you must have one to three years of experience in the field of network engineering.


Developed to establish an ultra elite group of Cisco networking professionals, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, or CCIE certification, is held by only three percent of all Cisco professionals and only one percent of networking professionals. This makes bearers of this certification a truly elite group. The certification process involves a rigorous written exam and an intensive performance based lab test. The CCIE certification is recognized worldwide, making it a very flexible career tool.

10. RHCE

The RHCE certification (Red Hat Certified Engineer) involves demonstrating the mastery of the skills it takes to be a senior systems administrator. These professionals are capable of deploying and migrating Red Hat Enterprise Linus systems for their companies. Upon completion, those certified will be able to demonstrate these abilities:
Configuring static routes, packet filtering, and network address translation
Setting runtime parameters for kernels
Building simple RPMs
Configuring iSCSI initiators
Producing reports on system utilization
Automate system maintenance tasks using shell scripting
Configuring system logins for users, including remote logins
Configuring the system to provide network services (such as HTTP/HTTPS, SMTP, FTP, NFS, NTP, SMB, and SSH)
Even if employers don’t list one of these certifications on the job requirements, each one has a proven track record of benefiting both the employee and the employer. It’s never too early to begin accumulating certifications for your career and it’s never too late, either. As technologies become more complex, certifications will be used more and more by employers to separate the serious professional from the rest of the resumes in the pile.

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