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These days, there are certifications for everything from the Cloud to Ham Sandwich Making. Unfortunately, there are many legitimate-sounding certifications out there that will not advance your career in technology. How can you tell what is worth it and what is not?

Who Gets Certified?

First of all, let’s identify who typically finds themselves interested in getting technical certifications. These include:

  • Career students — These individuals love learning and taking classes. They typically choose to get certifications because they are interested in the subject, not because they necessarily offer value to their career.
  • Individuals without experience — These individuals want to break into a career field but have no real world experience to back their desire. They get introductory-level certifications to prove they have learned the skills they need for the position they desire.
  • Subject matter experts — These individuals are considered the SME for a particular area within their company. They either know or want to know their subject inside and out and seek certifications as proof of their knowledge.
  • Career entrepreneurs — These individuals are very selective about the certifications they choose because they only want certifications that further their career. They typically get certifications in emerging technologies because those add the most immediate value in the job market.

Must Have Certifications

In the tech industry, there is only one “must have” certification: Project Management Professional (PMP) certification—and that certification is only necessary for individuals in project management, technology management, and technology leads. The PMP certification shows you are able to skillfully manage a project’s scope, timeline, resources, and so forth.

To qualify for PMP certification, you must have a minimum of 3 or 5 years of project management experience. (The amount of time depends on whether you have a college degree or a secondary degree.) You will also have had to manage a minimum of 4,500 hours of projects, and have taken 35 hours of project management education. Georgia Tech offers a PMP certification curriculum, which spans 5 classes and must be completed within 6 years. (With one class a semester, most students finish the course in 2.5 years.)  The PMP certification exam costs $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-members.

Nice to Have Certifications

Some certifications are nice to have to improve your resume, show off skills, or otherwise prove your knowledge. Our recruiters have found that the following certifications tend to be viewed very favorably by hiring managers:

  • Certificates in emerging technologies — In the current market, certifications in Analytics, Cloud Computing, Business Intelligence, Virtualization, and Security are highly valued.
  • Niche skills — These certifications are typically limited to a specific product and are offered by the company which sells that product. Examples could include Oracle BPM, SAP Supply Chain Management, and Salesforce Solution Designer.

If a company wants its employees to have a specific certification set, they will often include it as a part of training, or they will mention it as a “desirable trait” in their job postings.

Less Worthy Certifications

Let’s be real: not every certification is worth the time and money it takes to earn. That Certificate in Poetry Appreciation may be calling your name, but it will not advance your career in the tech industry.

If we did not mention it as a category above, you probably do not need it unless you are a tech industry newbie. The most common examples of “not worth it” certifications we see are Microsoft certifications and Network Systems certifications.

There are always special circumstances that make even “not worth it” certifications valuable. (People would not pay for them if that were not the case!) However, it is up to you to determine whether your circumstances actually require these less desired certifications.

Are you having trouble figuring out which certification will improve your career? Our recruiters can offer you guidance about what hiring managers are looking for within your career path. Contact us at [email protected] to get started.


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