If you are thinking about a career in the information technology (IT) industry, the quickest way to get your foot in the door with an entry-level job is by earning IT certifications. But there are so many different certifications out there, it’s hard to know which ones to start with. You don’t have to wonder anymore. To help you know where to begin, we’ve put together a list of the first five IT certifications newcomers should work to earn.
Top 5 Entry-Level IT Certifications
The following are the best entry-level certifications to pursue when starting a career in IT:
#1 – CompTIA A+
If you are brand-new to information technology, the CompTIA A+ certification is where you should start. This certification covers computer technology fundamentals, the installation and configuration of personal computers, laptops, and other hardware, and basic networking skills.
In CompTIA A+ training you will also learn to install and configure PC operating systems and other common features, like email and network connectivity for mobile device operating systems Apple iOS and Android.
This certification is given by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA), which offers a variety of IT certification exams.
#2 – CompTIA Network+
The next entry-level certification to consider is the CompTIA Network+ certification. Once you’ve obtained the A+ certification you will have a limited amount of networking knowledge. This training and certification dives deeper into the physical networking aspects of IT.
With both the CompTIA A+ and Network+ certifications, you will have the knowledge and skills to be a strong candidate for an entry-level networking position. Most IT newcomers take these first two certifications as a combination, which can save on the cost.
#3 – CompTIA Security+
Next on our list is the CompTIA Security+ certification. It’s an essential certification for anyone who wants to get into cybersecurity. Even without any formal IT education, you likely know that there are many cybersecurity threats and attacks happening all the time. That means that organizations are looking for IT employees who are knowledgeable about cybersecurity and how to protect their data and assets.
CompTIA Security+ training and certification ensures competency in network security; application, data, and host security; threats and vulnerabilities; compliance and operational security; access control and identity management; and cryptography. Security+ is one of the most crucial certifications for any newcomer in the cybersecurity field. Don’t skip this one.
#4 – Cisco CCENT
Cisco Systems offers the Cisco Certified Entry Network Technician (CCENT) certification to IT newcomers who have already obtained their Network+ certification or who have some working experience in networking. The CCENT training and certification is a more in-depth look at networking, concentrating on Cisco’s proprietary software and hardware.
Candidates for the CCENT certification have to pass the Interconnecting Cisco Networking Devices Part 1 (ICND1) exam. The ICND1 exam involves knowledge of network system installation, operation, and troubleshooting; the fundamentals of routing and switching; and some security concepts.
#5 – Cisco CCNA
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is ideal for IT professionals who have already obtained the CCENT credential (though it isn’t required that you have it). CCNA certification ensures employers that you can install, operate, configure enterprise-level switches and routers, and detect and resolve common network issues. Additionally, CCNA certified professionals typically have some management skills like customer service, communication, organizational, analytical, and troubleshooting skills.
Get Your IT Career Started with Certifications
Earning any, or all, of the above certifications, will provide you with a strong foundation in IT operations and prepare you for an entry-level position in the field.
If you are starting with little or no experience in IT, you're best option is to start with CompTIA A+. If you have some experience and are looking to formalize your network and systems smarts, then consider CCNA.
Hiring managers are more willing to hire candidates with little work experience when they see that the candidate has earned IT certifications. Certifications validate that you have the knowledge and the dedication to fulfill specific IT roles and that you are a good candidate to hire.
If you're just starting out in the technology field, read our Getting Started in IT guide