5 IT Certifications to Help Boost Your Income

Quick Answer

These five certifications allow you to earn information technology credentials that enhance your resume, help you advance your career and possibly land a higher salary.

A man wearing a gray shirt is smiling while looking away from his computer that has codes on the screen.

An information technology (IT) certification can be a good way to get the training and experience you'll need before starting out in the IT field. Jobs in this field include help desk techs, network engineers and system administrators. If you're already working in IT, getting a certification can help you advance your career and land a higher salary.

What Are Certifications?

Certifications are earnable credentials awarded by industry organizations, companies that produce a product or formal education institutions. You can find certifications offered by:

  • Bootcamps
  • Corporate programs
  • Executive education programs
  • Extension schools
  • Online courses
  • Product-based programs

IT certifications are available from many of these sources, with options to get started in the field or advance as a mid-level professional.

What Is Information Technology and Its Job Outlook?

The IT field encompasses jobs that have to do with computers, networking and troubleshooting technology. Between 2020 and 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the computer and IT field to grow 13%, or by about 667,600 jobs. This faster-than-average job growth means a promising future for those new to the field.

Not only are there growing opportunities in IT, but these jobs often come with good pay. Median salaries in the field were around $91,000 in 2020, according to BLS, making this a good field if you're looking to increase your income.

Information Technology Certifications to Check Out

When shopping around for IT certifications, it's important to find programs that are affordable, accessible and well respected in the field. Some include:

1. CompTIA A+ Certification

Passing the two-part CompTIA A+ exam is a starting point for many in the IT field hoping to land a job as a help desk technician, desktop support specialist or junior systems administrator. Professionals pursuing this exam should already have at least nine months in the lab or other hands-on experience.

To prepare for the CompTIA A+ exam, students can study with their own available resources or official study guides, or online courses and online labs that come directly from CompTIA.

There are nine core skills that students are expected to master by the time they take the exam, including:

  • Hardware
  • Operating systems
  • Software troubleshooting
  • Networking
  • Security
  • Mobile devices
  • Virtualization and cloud computing
  • Operational procedures

Cost: $239 per exam

Time to complete: 90 minutes per exam

2. CompTIA Network+

For those preparing to become network professionals, the CompTIA Network+ certification is a way to learn skills managing, configuring and troubleshooting networks. Prospective students should already have nine to 12 months of experience working with networks and have passed the CompTIA A+ certification exam.

While diving into self-paced or live online trainings, students will cover the skills tested on the CompTIA Network+ exam, including:

  • Networking fundamentals
  • Network implementations
  • Network operations
  • Network security
  • Network troubleshooting

Once certified, students will be better prepared for jobs such as network engineer, junior network administrator or system administrator, among others.

Cost: $348

Time to complete: 90 minutes

3. CompTIA Security+

Get ready for a career in cybersecurity with the CompTIA Security+ certification. Meant to prepare workers for intermediate-level positions, Security+ teaches the skills of assessing, monitoring, awareness, analysis and response to security issues.

Students can get ready for the Security+ exam with self-paced study or formal training options including an e-learning course, virtual labs, exam prep online training companion, study guides and instructor-led training.

The exam assesses familiarity with the following skills:

  • Attacks, threats and vulnerabilities
  • Design and architecture
  • Implementation
  • Operations and incident response
  • Governance, risk and compliance

Cost: $381

Time to complete: 90 minutes

4. Google IT Support Professional Certificate

Google's IT Support Professional Certificate is designed for students who don't have any experience or educational background in IT. This program uses part-time study to teach the necessary skills over six months to help a student land a job in IT.

Some of the skills students should expect to learn include:

  • Network protocols
  • Cloud computing
  • Linux
  • Debugging
  • Encryption algorithms and techniques
  • Customer service
  • Binary code
  • Customer support

After completing this certificate, students may also be eligible to receive credit at two universities that offer degrees on Coursera, meaning that they may be both entering a career and working towards a higher degree.

Cost: Coursera subscription $39 per month (financial aid available)

Time to complete: Approximately six months with 10 hours of study per week

5. Cisco CyberOps Associate Certification

Designed to help start a career in cybersecurity, the Cisco CyperOps Associate Certification covers security monitoring, network intrusion analysis, host-based analysis and general security procedures and policies.

Students become certified by passing the 200-201 CBROPS exam. They can purchase a study course to prepare for the CBROPS exam as an eLearning, classroom, digital subscription or private group training course.

Cost: $300

Time to complete: 120 minutes

Choosing the Right IT Certification for You

When it's time to choose the right IT certification for you, consider the following factors:

  • The type of certification your preferred career requires: Many jobs may explicitly request a CompTIA A+ Certification or a Cisco CyberOps Associate Certification. Do a quick job search to see what your target jobs list as required certifications.
  • Your budget: Budget is an important deciding factor for which program or exam you choose to tackle. Don't forget to factor in the cost of preparation materials.
  • The knowledge you need for a career change: If you're using an IT certification to change careers or start in the IT field, make sure you're opting into one that will teach you the basics and be recognized by a wide range of employers.

No matter which program you choose, having an IT certification on your resume can show employers you're willing to learn and complete projects on your own—both of which are key traits to have in the IT field.