10 IT Certifications That Still Matter

For much of the past decade, there’s been an ongoing debate in the channel about the value of IT certifications. Here are 10 certs that continue to prove their merit in 2013.

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certifiedFor much of the past decade, there’s been ongoing debate in the channel about the value of IT certifications to the business. Sure, verified technical chops are important, but more and more we see certifications taking a back seat to more immediate and tangible service factors. Particularly in the area of advanced services and applications, solution providers progress more on their actual capabilities and value, and less on their certifications. As one solution provider put it to Channelnomics recently, “When you’re small, you sell on your certifications and vendors. When you’re big, you sell on your value and your brand.”

Still, there are some certifications that continue to prove their merit in the industry at large. Here are 10 IT certifications that still matter in 2013 ranked by the average salaries they command, according to the latest industry figures from Payscale.com.

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>> NEXT: 10. CompTIA A+ Service Technician

10. Comptia A+ Service Technician

Median salary: $49,197

CompTIA-A+Among the most basic of IT certifications, the vendor-neutral CompTIA A+ demonstrates basic competency as a computer technician. Some 800,000 IT professionals worldwide have received the certification after completing a practical, two-exam process in areas such as IRQs, direct memory access, and computer repair, including the installation and repair of hard drives, modems, network cards, CPUs, power supplies, PDAs, and printers.

Most IT pros have better than 500 hours of hands-on IT experience before attempting the online testing process for the CompTIA A+ certification.

For more information: www.comptia.org

>> NEXT: 9. CompTIA Network+

9. CompTIA Network+

Median salary: $55,431

CompTIA NetworkThe CompTIA Network+ certification verifies understanding of network hardware, installation, and troubleshooting. Holders, most of whom start with the CompTIA A+ cert, have been thoroughly quizzed on network hardware, connections, software, the OSI Reference model, and different protocols used in LANs and WANs.

The CompTIA Network+ is a solid precursor to related networking certifications from Microsoft and Cisco.

For more information: www.comptia.org

>> NEXT: 8. CompTIA Security+

8. CompTIA Security+

Median salary: $64,793

CompTIA securityThe CompTIA Security + deals with subjects such as cryptography and access control, disaster recovery and risk management. Holders have been tested and verified competent on network security, compliance and operational security, threats and vulnerabilities, application, data and host security, access control and identity management.

Some 45,000 people worldwide have earned the CompTIA Security + which can be applied as an elective to MCSA and MCSE  Security specializations from Microsoft.

For more information: www.comptia.org

>> NEXT: 7. Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)

7. Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)

Median salary: $66,214

MCPThe MCP is a basic, first-level Microsoft certification that generally takes the least time and money to garner. It’s often the first certification IT hopefuls looking for entry-level employment seek and it serves as a gateway to more specialized certs such as the MCSE.

The MCP requires proof of working knowledge around only one subject area, for example, Windows XP or Windows 7, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get. Microsoft tests for a significant amount of knowledge in the MCP solutions areas and those inexperienced in basic IT are unlikely to pass.

For more information: www.microsoft.com/learning

>> NEXT: 6. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

6. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Median salary: $67,130

CCNAThe CCNA is offered by Cisco Systems Inc. as the first-level of its Cisco Career certification program. A CCNA certifies the holder’s ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size routed and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN.

Be warned: Cisco doesn’t publish CCNA exam passing scores because the test questions and passing grades are subject to change without notice.

For more information: www.cisco.com/web/learning

>> NEXT: 5. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

5. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

Median salary: $77,129

MCSEThis certification had been known for years by the same acronym as the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. The multi-level certification was changed in part to reflect certain legal requirements for the word “engineer” internationally. It also morphed due to changes in information technology over the years, especially Microsoft’s shift in focus to cloud-based computing technologies.

The core MSCE certification remains mostly the same, testing skills in server and desktop infrastructure, private cloud, messaging, Sharepoint, data platforms and business intelligence. The MSCE requires recertification every three years.

For more information: www.microsoft.com/learning

>> NEXT: 4. Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP)

4. Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP)

Median salary: $78,200

Sun SCJPNow more frequently known as the Oracle Certified Professional SE Programmer (OCPJP) certification, the SCJP verifies fundamental understanding of Java and is a prerequisite to a number of the other Java certificates.

The SCJP cert requires passage of a detailed test on the core features and constructs of the Java programming language, and require thorough knowledge of Java's APIs and core features, from basics of looping constructs and variables, to the more complex Java threads, collections and generics.

For more information: education.oracle.com

>> NEXT: 3. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation

3. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Foundation

Median salary: $84,133

ITILITIL certification is managed by the ITIL Certification Management Board, which develops IT service management practices that focus on aligning IT services with the needs of business as well as to demonstrate compliance and measure improvement.

ITIL describes processes, procedures, tasks and checklists that can be used by IT to integrate with their organization's strategy and deliver better value to the business.

For more information: www.itil-officialsite.com

>> NEXT: 2. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

2. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Median salary:  $96,005

CISSPMore than 85,000 IT security professionals have been awarded this certification from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium also known (ISC)². The CISSP requires broad knowledge of IT security and its profile was raised when the NSA adopted it as a baseline for its own security certification efforts.

For more information: www.isc2.org

>> NEXT: 1. Project Management Professional (PMP)

1. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Median salary: $96,450

PMPTopping the list is the PMP, offered by the Project Management Institute as a way to verify skills aimed at improving project success rates by applying standardized project management principles from PMI's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide.

There are some 450,000 PMP certified workers globally with another 5,000 being added every month, according to the PMI.

For more information: www.pmeducate.com

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