What are the five most challenging certs for Indian IT pros?In the world of IT, prominent and high-paying positions will always exist. As the world grows more connected with virtualization and the Cloud, there is always going to be a need for technology specialists. Couple that with the explosion in the number of wireless devices and mobile apps being used in India, and the future of the Cloud looks secure.

As demand for Indian IT pros continues to climb, so too will the number of Computer Science and Information Technology candidates vying for coveted positions. More often than not, the process of landing a job can be a grueling and extremely competitive process. It takes a combination of great communications skills, an astounding looking resume, and even a strong dosage of luck.

Interviewers, who are frequently hiring managers, consider many factors when evaluating candidates. They include work experience or internships done during college, and level of education acquired. The reputation of the degree granting institution is also given weight. It’s a good bet that graduates of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology are almost guaranteed of getting a job versus candidates from lesser known schools.

Certifications

One increasingly important aspect of landing a good position is the appropriate IT certification. There is a wide-spread belief in India that by holding a specific certification, one is guaranteed a great job. This is far from the truth. While an IT cert will most certainly help, it’s usually not the make-or-break factor for a hiring manager. An IT cert should be viewed as just one part of your overall IT arsenal.

In reality, many Indian employers view IT certs not as a test of knowledge, but of discipline and persistence in the effort required to earn them. Possession of the right a cert is a good way for the hiring manager to judge your dedication to a particular domain of knowledge and hopefully, by extension, to the organization that employs you.

The number of certs on the market is currently more than 1,700, with new ones being added every week. These certs range from beginning IT certs all the way up to the highest levels of IT. While they all require dedication and hard work to achieve, some are absolutely grueling and will push even the most seasoned IT pros to the wall. In this article, I’ll identify the five IT certifications in India that are viewed as being the most difficult to earn.

Number 5: The Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE)

CWNE is the most challenging wireless networking certification on the market. Only 110 people in the world actually possess the CWNE. Getting to sit for the exam requires mastery and possession of four other certs: CWSP, CWAP, CWDP and CWNA. Additionally, candidates are required to prove three or more years of enterprise Wi-Fi implementation experience, include three professionally related endorsements, and provide certified proof of at least three enterprise Wi-Fi projects that they have created, deployed and implemented.

Earning a CWNE isn’t accomplished in a month or on a whim. It can take years of dedication and intense effort, not to mention the cost of each exam and study materials. The good news is that the CWNE requires clearing only one examination.

On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being the easiest and 5 the most difficult, the CWNE scores a 4 for preparation and a 1 for clearing the exam. (Clearing the exam is rated easy because by the time candidates are qualified to sit for it, they have a vast amount of knowledge and hands-on experience.)

Number 4: Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)

When it comes to the world of Red Hat, everything and anything related to open source software comes to mind, especially the many distributions of the Linux operating system. The RHCA certification is viewed as the toughest cert to acquire in the open source software community.

Candidates must master six different domains:

  • Network Management
  • System Management
  • Storage Management
  • System Monitoring
  • Performance Tuning
  • Virtualization

There are also five exams to clear, each one a physically demanding lab of two to eight hours in duration. Each exam is noted for its comprehensiveness and difficulty. The cost alone is staggering at approximately $5,000 U.S. (Trying to get your supervisor to pay for this cert will be a huge challenge in itself.) Also, if you decide to go for the RHCA, be prepared to go it mostly alone, because there are no official courses or study materials.

RHCA is rated a 2 for Preparation and 4 for Hard to Pass.

Number 3: VMware Certified Design Expert – Datacenter Virtualization (VCDX)

VCDX is another extremely difficult certification to obtain. There are only 115 people in the entire world with this cert, and most of them work for VMware. Prior to sitting for the exam, candidates must have three additional VMware certifications in place: VCP-DV, VCAP5-DCA and VCAP5-DCD (all challenging to earn). To make things even more difficult, unlike Microsoft or Oracle, VMware doesn’t provide any courses or training materials for VCDX.

Getting permission to take the exam is a significant hurdle. Candidates must submit an application for approval by a team of VMware professionals. Upon being cleared to take the exam, you must successfully formulate, present and defend a VMware vSphere-based virtual infrastructure design and implementation. Hope you’re not shy, because you have to do all that in front of an approved board of VMware professionals, each of whom possess the VCDX certification.

VCDX is rated a 3 for preparation and a 3 for Hard to Pass.

Number 2: The Oracle Certified Master (OCM) DBA 11g

Oracle specializes in creating and deploying database technology, and this is what this exam is geared towards: becoming a certified Database Administrator (DBA). It is fortunate that there are a great many benefits to this certification, because those who are certified describe the OCM DBA preparation and exam as a “nightmare” process. Candidates are required to register for and attend three separate training classes (each one costing somewhere around $3,000 U.S.), and pass three corresponding exams.

One particularly challenging aspect of this certification is that it’s not paper or computer based. It is a two-day long practical lab filled with scenarios designed to challenge even the most prepared IT pro.

OCM is rated 4 to Prepare and 3 for Hard to Pass.

What are the five most challenging certs for Indian IT pros?Number 1: Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) Windows Server – Directory

The toughest certification to earn in India. It is so difficult that, as of last year, you could count on one-hand the number of credentialed individuals, and not even have to use your thumb. That’s right, as of 2014 just four people had achieved this cert!

To make things even more confusing, Microsoft currently offers four different types of MCA certification:

  • Microsoft Exchange Server, MCA
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server, MCA
  • Microsoft SQL Server, MCA
  • Windows Server Directory, MCA

It is important to keep in mind that to take any MCA exam, you have to first pass and acquire the Microsoft Certified Master certification. That alone will require you to have at least five solid, consecutive years of related work experience and pass two additional exams, one written and one six-hour lab. Unfortunately there are no official courses or training materials to help you prepare.

You have to apply to take the MCA exam. Once accepted, you’ll need to verify work experience and send in a couple high-level case study designs. The exam itself is described as “resolving the most complex scenarios and designing the biggest Active Directory domains.” All this of course entails a tremendous time commitment, and a serious financial investment as well: sitting for the MCA will cost you approximately $7,500 USD.

MCA is rated a 5 to prepare and a 5 for Hard to Pass.

Conclusion

None of the above certs are quick or easy to accomplish. They cost significant amounts of money and years of your life to prepare. But if you dream of walking into a room full of IT pros and have them speak in hushed tones about you and your accomplishments, then start climbing the ladder to certification’s “elite level.”