Knowing which certification will help elevate your career or land a job is not only difficult, it's different among different facets of it.
Also, the best-known certifications aren't necessarily the ones that will help you succeed. In fact, analysts warn that some certification vendors can throw enough money into promotion of their certifications to move the engagement needle, making the choice of which certification to choose even more difficult.
"The good ones are almost always performance-oriented and have a laboratory component involved that proves candidates can use their knowledge in the real world, "says Subhash Tantry, president of certification, testing and assessment platform provider Mettl.
Many certification programs are investing significant resources to add labs, hands-on problem solving and real-world fixes to their testing scenarios, according to Mettl. "It doesn't do anyone much good to hire a candidate who can ace a multiple-choice test but can't understand a solution in real life," says Tantry.
However, if you find the right certification, it will add value to career, says Todd Thibodeaux, President and CEO of Comptia. With every facet of a business reliant on technology in some form or fashion, it only makes sense that industry certified it pros remain in high demand.
"Doesn't it make sense to place responsibility for critical it investments in the hands of someone who is certified by their industry? Any organization that thinks it can't afford to train and certify its it staff should be asking, 'Can i afford not to?',"says Thibodeaux.
IT theory vs. IT practice
It's one thing to hold a degree or point to acquired knowledge of it concepts and theories, but it's quite another to be able to prove, in practice, your command of technology and leverage it to make business more efficient. That's exactly why IT certifications are so valuable to businesses, according to Thibodeaux.
"The value of technical certifications for business is greater than ever. academic credentials validate that you have the classroom knowledge associated with the job you are applying for, but that book learning will only take you so far," Thibodeaux says.
Industry certifications - whether from a technology vendor like Cisco, Microsoft, Juniper, Red Hat and others or through an independent organization such as Thibodeaux's comptia - demonstrate that it pros can apply that classroom knowledge in a real-world, on-the-job scenario, he says.
Talk the talk and walk the walk
Businesses want certifications because it shows definitively that the talent they hire can perform at a certain level. Keeping them current is another demonstration of their discipline and dedication to their craft. "IT pros who go through the training and get certified, who maintain their certifications are much more marketable. They can prove their mettle and build successful careers based on what they can do and what they can build - not on what they can recite and repeat. these are the people businesses will continue to search for because they'll always be able to make an impact," Tantry says.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.