“The rung of a ladder was never meant to rest upon, but only to hold a man’s foot long enough to enable him to put the other somewhat higher.” Thomas Huxley

Picking the right IT certification can be a game changer.The above quote holds true for every individual aspiring to a successful IT career. For every goal you wish to achieve, there are only two directions you can go, down or up. Excuses or Actions. Choose the excuses route, and chances are high that you will end up going around in circles. Go the action way, and there is an almost certain guarantee that you will find success along the way.

Oftentimes the most difficult move in a new venture is the first step. Too often we look at all the challenges and feel intimidated because we don’t have the answer to each one. In situations like this, it’s best to remember what Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” Cross this first barrier of resistance and you’ll be amazed at how the course becomes easier along the way. The choice is all yours.

Now that you have decided to take the Action route, chances are high that you are still confused and undecided on which way to go. This state of mind is perfectly natural for most of us — be aware of this mind trap and watch out for it. If you give in to indecisiveness, then you will again set sail on the enormous, dirty, deep and infinite sea of excuses. Start navigating your way out of indecisiveness by making logical and firm decisions. Got it? Congratulations! You are again back on the track of success.

So how does this advice fit into a career in IT? Consider the advice navigation instructions a precise set of guidelines that can help you steer toward the best-fit career path for you. Answer for yourself the following questions based on your interests and aspirations. There is no-one-size-fits-all approach to the exercise. A combination of self-introspection, market analysis and expert recommendations can help you find your IT “sweet spot.”

Area of Interest

Ask yourself: What do I want to do in IT? Answering this question thoughtfully and truthfully will go a long way toward helping you set your focus and direction. For example, maybe you’re interested in technology and/or management. If you’re a technology lover, then drill down into your interests further by looking into some of the Industry’s popular choices: Networking, Application Development (Web, Niche, and Mobile), Database Solutions, Gaming, Videos and Animation, and Instruction Design. The internet makes it even easier to research these different tech topics.

If you’re inclined towards management, then something along the lines of project management may be best. Incidentally, the Project Management Institute (PMI) offers the industry’s gold-standard certification. The Project Management Professional (PMP) cert is widely accepted as the one that best gives an added edge for managing large scale project deliveries on time and within budget.

PMI also offers an excellent entry-level certification, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM). This cert is an important asset for those entering the management stream from various different backgrounds. Another excellent option for those having an inclination toward handling large scale software and infrastructure maintenance projects is an ITIL certification from AXELOS. These popular certifications are ranked amongst the top-paying certs in India in the current market scenario. Some of the more renowned institutes offering the ITIL training are: Invensys Global Learning Systems, Aabiance Technologies and SkillLogic.

Once your area of interest has been finalized, the decision making process becomes much easier. There are, however, other important factors to consider. These include:

Cost of the certification and return on your investment. Is the cert going to get you a higher salary? Is that salary commensurate with the cost of earning the cert?

Length of time to earn the cert is crucial. Will pursuit of the cert take so long that you may lose interest? Is there a cert that is quicker to earn and that accomplishes the same thing?

What is your mode of learning? Some can learn online watching videos and need little interaction with an instructor. Others need and even prefer regular and close interaction with an instructor in a classroom setting. Make certain that the certification’s learning track enables you to use whichever manner you prefer.

Will the cert help your career prospects? Some credentials have a higher demand in the current IT corporate landscape and, sadly, some are a bit outdated. For those who are flexible on factors like area of interest and cost, select the certs that have a higher growth potential based on the industry trends.

Is this cert all I need or will I need additional training? The cert you pursue may just be a beginning. If you are interested in working on a help-desk you can get by with just an A+ cert. However, if you want to deal with computer infrastructures you will need more advanced certs along the lines of CCNA, MCSE and Linux+.

To help you investigate and decide on specific certifications, consider some of the top trending technology certification providers:

Microsoft

Certifications from Microsoft have a reputation for providing enormous value to tons of aspiring technologists over the years. The current value of these certs is high because with the dominance of cloud technologies, Microsoft has recently retired some of its earlier certifications and introduced more relevant courses dealing with emerging tools and technologies.

If you decide on the Microsoft way, then take a look at the Certification Guru Portal. Also, Microsoft has a “second shot” offer running which provides you a free exam retake if you are not successful on your first attempt. The offer expires in January of next year, however, to you’ll want to start soon. Some of the certifications covered under this offer are:

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)

Microsoft Specialist Certification Exams

Microsoft Dynamics Exams

The Open Group

Picking the right IT certification can be a game changer.The TOGAF® 9 Certification, by Open Group, is by far the best enterprise architecture framework to help large organizations manoeuvre the path of business efficiency. To earn this in-demand certification, you’ll need to prepare for a two-part exam, either through self-study or classroom sessions at an Accredited Training Course. This exceptional certification is a must for anyone serious in pursuing the solution architecture path takes two forms:

TOGAF 9 Foundation: This proves that the candidate has a basic knowledge of the core principles and terminology of Enterprise Architecture.

TOGAF 9 Certified: This is an advanced level certification that proves that the candidate can apply the TOGAF knowledge to practical industry situations.

CompTIA

CompTIA certifications are always a topper on any list of certs that are sure to boost your salary. There are multiple forms of training and certifications to choose from such as the CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+ and the CompTIA Server+. One of the most renowned centers in India for achieving this certification is the Pearson Vue Institute. This global organization has been successfully delivering tests in India for more than 10 years now.

While experience is always a plus, formal certification is increasingly becoming essential to a successful IT career. The time to take your first step is NOW. Go ahead and take that big leap toward success, and enjoy the certification process! You will surely learn a lot along the way.