Weekly Word on the Street: CompTIA A+ 'Delivers Career Advancement'

by Jim Staats | Aug 31, 2012

Takeaway of the week is how helpful it often is to step back and take stock of career decisions from a "big picture" perspective, whether that means an analytical career assessment tool or choosing the right resources to achieve that career goal in the first place. Then again, sometimes it all comes down to the money.

CompTIA A+ Among 'Certifications That Deliver Career Advancement'
CompTIA A+ is one of 12 certifications that delivers career advancement, according to CIO magazine.

CompTIA A+, which validates that IT pros have the skills and knowledge to install, secure and troubleshoot networks, "is an industry standard for IT and tech support folks," according to the magazine.

CIO culled data on more than 1,700 certification offerings from Robert Half Technology to come up with the list of most relevant IT certifications. Also included were: Project Management Professional (PMP), Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSP), various Cisco certifications and a bevy of Microsoft certifications.

"Certifications are a great way to break into a new technology, cover gaps in your resume or advance your current position," the article advises. "The best people in the IT business are the ones who are passionate about learning and that is a key to being successful."

The article notes the results of a recent poll that asked respondents in the industry why they chose certification: More than half responded they wanted to position themselves for a promotion or potential job.

It's All in the Matrix
Sometimes it's hard to sort out all the pros and cons when making a career decision, especially when multiple attractive options are available.

Such is life these days for many skilled IT professionals.

A recent post in the Harvard Business Review revisited a helpful resource - the career objective matrix - to help focus the decision-making process.

A well-established career assessment tool, the matrix is a fundamental process that can provide help in all life-altering decisions through a few easy steps:

  1. Categorize objectives for the work such as personal growth, impact, money and the company and then rank them.
  2. Evaluate alternatives against these objectives because these objectives now become the criteria by which you judge, rate and record the reasons.
  3. Subjectively quantify performance by weighing criteria in some fashion may take more time, but allows for a more well-rounded assessment.
  4. Interpret the results, as the matrix won't provide an answer, but will help organize your thinking if done right.

As the article suggests, the career matrix can help someone presented with multiple career options imagine what various jobs will be like and how alternatives measure up against the objectives that matter most to each person.

Tech Among Lucrative Jobs for College Grads
One of the factors guiding college students is the potential earnings of a future career.

With that in mind, a recent AOL Jobs item used some national salary statistics to break down the average starting salaries for current college graduates with a rosy picture painted for leaving college with their computer science and engineering degrees in hand.

According to the most recent salary survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for a class of 2012 graduate is $44,442.

Within the most common academic disciplines, the eight highest paying bachelor's degrees, based on survey findings, are business, communications, computer sciences, education, engineering, health sciences, sciences and humanities and social sciences.

To break it down further, for computer sciences, the median starting salary is $58,300, a 4.3 percent change from 2011. For engineering, the median starting salary is $67,800, a 0.6 percent change in salary from 2011.

One caveat from the salary survey is that only certain starting salaries were available at the time the survey was conducted, so not all majors were factored into starting salary comparisons.

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