4 Certifications IT Professionals Should Not Ignore

Certifications can lead to more responsibility and higher pay for IT professionals

By Jaime Weinstein
Posted 2012

Best Information Technology Certifications to Earn
Best Information Technology Certifications to Earn

Whether you work in the IT Security or IT Project Management segment of your industry, staying current on technology, techniques and best practices are obvious musts. But there is another focus that IT professionals should consider if they want to help increase their earning potential and avoid losing their job to someone more qualified – certification.

[Get Matched With A PMP or Six Sigma Certification Program]

Four types of information technology certificates can help give IT professionals an edge on their competition are the CISSP® certification, CAP® certification, PMP® certification and Six Sigma certification.

CISSP Certification
In the mid-1980s, several professional IT organizations determined there was a need for a program that would vet an IT security professional’s skills. By 1989, a newly formed non-profit organization which would come to be known as the International Information Security Certification Consortium, also known as (ISC)2 , was formed. At the time the (ISC)2 had a singular purpose – to create a structured certification for IT professionals.

The new credential was named the Certified Information System Security Professional and is commonly referred to as CISSP.

The philosophy behind the CISSP credential is based around a concept known as the “common body of knowledge,” which includes topics with which all IT security professionals should be familiar.

In order to become a IT security certification candidate, enrollee must first meet a set of stringent requirements, which include: at least five years experience in the IT field; having a CISSP-certified person endorse them; a score of 700 points out of 1000 on the CISSP exam.

CAP Certification
Another credential IT security professionals should look into is the (ISC)2‘s Certified Authorization Professional (CAP). The CAP credential is a bit more tailored in comparison to the CISSP. According to the (ISC)2, this credential was created for professionals who are “responsible for formalizing processes used to assess risk and establish security requirements and documentation.” And this cyber security certification is ideal for professionals in either civilian or government roles.

Also, like the CISSP, the CAP requires candidates to possess experience in the subjects that make up the CAP’s own common body of knowledge, as well as certain points of knowledge and/or skills in areas like information assurance, systems administrations, information security policy and information risk management.

PMP® Certification
One of the most in-demand positions in today’s global workforce is that of Project Manager. More and more organizations are realizing that in order to increase their bottom line, they need trained professionals who can ensure a project is completed on time, if not sooner, as well someone who can help streamline processes to help increase the bottom line. PMPs are individuals who are able to multitask while managing everything from cost and time to individual processes, while still being able to communicate effectively with employees.

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) offers a credential known as PMP; which is short for Project Management Professional. A certified PMP is someone who is proficient in the A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Many colleges and universities, along with some private education companies, offer training programs to help prepare PMP candidates for the certification exam.

In order to qualify to even sit for the PMP certification exam, a candidate will have to have an associate’s degree with 5 years of project management experience or a bachelor’s degree with 3 years project management experience. They will also require 35 hours of verified project management education.

Applicants can apply for the PMP certification exam and verify their current credentials via PMI’s website. Once you’ve completed the exam and received your certification, you will have to maintain it through continuous learning referred to as professional development units. PMPs will have to earn 60 PDUs every three years through various activities, from writing trade articles to speaking about project management at industry events. A professional development unit can also be earned by working as a full-time project manager.

Six Sigma Certification
Although the concepts behind Six Sigma have been around since the late 1700s, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that Six Sigma began to really take shape. According to iSixSigma.com, a man by the name of Walter Shewhart devised and proved the formula that is the foundation for Six Sigma today. The formula goes as follows, “Three sigma from the mean is the point where a process requires correction.” During the mid-1980s, a group of Motorola engineers and upper-management members were working together on a project that would help streamline their processes (to eliminate waste) and help to further eliminate defects and issues (to save time) that could obviously be avoided. They were using Shewhart’s formula and one of the engineers dubbed the new practices being created “Six Sigma”.

As the team at Motorola began to create and implement these practices, they noticed a profound increase in the company’s bottom line; it was in the billions! Over the past few decades, Six Sigma has moved away from being regarded as a set of best practices, and has become a way of life that many businesses now rely and thrive on.

What does this mean for you? Many lines of business ranging from financial to IT to healthcare are looking for Six Sigma-trained and certified professionals. And the organizations that house them are eager to hire qualified professionals proficient in this methodology and will pay them for their expertise. However, in order to earn a Six Sigma certification, it is recommended that an IT professional study the philosophy through a professional education program such as the ones offered by a college or university. Some organizations will bring in trainers from the outside to conduct in-house training, or they will have their own upper-level Six Sigma-certified managers teach and mentor incoming practitioners.

[Search Online Project Management Degree and Certification Programs]

Requirements for the different Six Sigma certifications (Green Belt, Lean Sensei, Lean Black Belt, Black BeIt, and Lean Six Sigma) may vary depending on the organization you receive your Six Sigma training and certification from. It is important to note that once you complete your training and certification, you will be required to maintain the certification by earning continuing education units.

As technology evolves, the skill sets belonging to IT professionals will continue to grow, and certification is the perfect way to help meet that demand and enhance your career. Earning a certification will also show your employer that you are serious about advancement and maintaining your IT knowledgebase. If you are interested in pursuing any of the certifications mentioned above, it is strongly encouraged to research their specific requirements with their certifying body.

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