What IT Certifications Should I Get?

by Brett Hanley | May 10, 2019

A circle of coffee cups with different amounts of milk illustrating the choice of which IT certification to getWhether you want to get into IT from another sector or advance your career and increase your earning potential as an experienced IT professional, IT certifications can help you achieve your career goals. But you may be asking, which IT certification should I get?

  • If you’re just starting out , you’ll want to pursue IT certifications that acquaint you with how to maximize the use of computers and mobile technology in a business environment.
  • If you’re already working in a tech support or help desk role, certifications can take your expertise to the next level and qualify you for specialties like computer networking and cybersecurity jobs.
  • And if you want to move up the ladder to a senior-level cybersecurity position, certifications can give you an advantage on the job market.

Below are some IT certification options for the different stages of your IT career.

IT Certifications to Start Your Career

CompTIA IT Fundamentals (ITF+)

Ideal for students and professionals who don’t have prior IT experience. This certification is designed to get students and career changers up to speed on how computers, operating systems and networks function, providing the building blocks of IT.

Download the CompTIA ITF+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

CompTIA A+

Your ticket to help desk and technical support jobs. CompTIA A+ shows you know how to troubleshoot common tech problems in corporate environments.

Jobs related to CompTIA A+: Help Desk Technician, Technical Support Specialist

Learn how to get an IT job with CompTIA A+.

IT Certifications to Explore Specialties

CompTIA Network+

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Proves your knowledge about managing enterprise networks, solving networking issues, troubleshooting network devices and keeping tabs on network security.

Jobs related to CompTIA Network+: Network Support Specialist, Network Administrator, Systems Administrator, Systems Analyst, Network Engineer

Download the CompTIA Network+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

CompTIA Security+

Great for tech support and computer networking professionals who want to get into cybersecurity. This certification proves you know how to secure networks, keep digital data confidential and ward off hackers. 

Jobs related to CompTIA Security+: Cybersecurity Specialist, Security Administrator

Download the CompTIA Security+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

IT Certifications for Experienced IT Pros

CompTIA Server+

Emphasizes the skills needed for advanced work and troubleshooting of server platforms. Virtualization, server security and storage are all focuses of CompTIA Server+.

Jobs related to CompTIA Server+: Systems Engineer

Download the CompTIA Server+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

CompTIA Linux+

CompTIA Linux+ validates the skills of IT pros supporting Linux systems. Cloud computing, cybersecurity, emerging tech and DevOps all use Linux, and getting CompTIA Linux+ shows that you have the skills hiring managers need for these roles.

Jobs related to CompTIA Linux+: Database AdministratorData ScientistWeb Administrator

Download the CompTIA Linux+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

CompTIA Cloud+

With more than 90% of all companies having moved at least some work to the cloud, organizations need IT pros who can maintain and optimize cloud infrastructure services. CompTIA Cloud+ proves you have these important skills to help businesses efficiently and securely leverage cloud computing.

Jobs related to CompTIA Cloud+: Cloud Engineer, Business Analyst (Cloud Computing)

Download the CompTIA Cloud+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

Proves you are a cybersecurity expert. This certification, shows you can use analytics to help prevent advanced cyber threats. The defensive cybersecurity skills covered by CompTIA CySA+ complement the offensive skills covered by CompTIA PenTest+.

Jobs related to CompTIA CySA+: Cybersecurity Analyst, Security Operations Center (SOC) Analyst

Download the CompTIA CySA+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

CompTIA PenTest+

CompTIA PenTest+ proves that you understand the nuances of penetration testing to prevent cyber threats. The offensive cybersecurity skills covered by CompTIA PenTest+ complement the defensive skills covered by CompTIA CySA+.

Jobs related to CompTIA PenTest+: Penetration Tester, Vulnerability Analyst

Download the CompTIA PenTest+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+)

The most advanced cybersecurity credential from CompTIA, earning CompTIA CASP+ demonstrates that you’re a cybersecurity expert, with specialized knowledge about encryption, mobile security and blockchain technology.

Jobs related to CASP+: Cybersecurity Engineer, Security Architect

Download the CASP+ exam objectives to see what’s covered.

Whether you’re just starting your IT career or you’re looking to prove you have the skills needed for advanced roles, CompTIA certifications show employers that you have what it takes. To learn more about CompTIA certifications, start by downloading the exam objectives to see what’s covered. And once you select the certification that’s right for you, check out the official CompTIA study guide, in eBook or printed form, as well as the CompTIA CertMaster line of products to keep your studies focused and give you confidence as you head into your exam.


  • don

    Friday, May 10, 2019

    Whatever you do, make sure that you check your job market before plunking down change on any certification. Here the cert isn't worth the paper it's printed on. Salary for top IT people in this area is $12/hr.. I end up taking temp gigs because they typically pay 2 and often 3 times as much

  • Febie Kaye P Atkins

    Friday, May 10, 2019

    I want to know more about the certifications?

  • MartinS

    Sunday, May 12, 2019

    Always good to look at the market location your in; supply and demand, more specifically the skills that are in hot demand. Certifications are great to demonstrate several things: that you most likey took a course, know the fundamentals and can complete a certification from start to finish. Demonstrating diligence, completions, grit and examples that you are trainable (not a loose cannon) are fundamental elements that I look for when hiring people.

  • Kyle W.

    Monday, May 13, 2019

    Having A+, Net+, and Secutiry+ is the "very beginning" like I just came out of high school after having spent $1,000 on certs was pretty disheartening. Highly recommend just jumping into sec+ and server+ if you can. No need to waste all that money

  • WS

    Friday, May 17, 2019

    After seeing some comments, had to add one. Different certifications have different value, and vary for your market/field/location - as people are alluding to. But if you think getting a couple of certifications opens the door to big $, you are incorrect. You still need training and experience to get the pay. That being said, you may not get an interview if you don't have the cert that an HR dept. has been told to require. Basically, a lot of certifications open the door, but you better have more than that for the interview and to get the job. Someone posted better to skip straight to Sec+ and Net+ (skip A+). I agree, but it is for a specific reason: the network and security field don't have much to do with A+. Typically, help desk positions are looking for A+, and then you can go add whatever desktop OS you want to that. If you want to be in the network field, then A+ does absolutely nothing to open that door. Also, Security+ is the bare minimum security cert required to work in the federal government in IT, and some private orgs follow that example. But I don't see "skipping" to Server+ as somehow more valuable. All of those certs are basically entry level for their field. Server+ might be better replaced by a Microsoft MCP level certification in Server 2016/2019, or you might be better served by Linux+ depending on what OS the organization is using. Everything costs money and time. Figure out the best bang for what you want to accomplish. With four tests, you could get Security+, MCP level in Microsoft Server, Cisco CCNA (if you take the harder combined test), and then throw in something else of your choice for the 4th one: Network+ being redundant with CCNA but vendor neutral, maybe a project management cert like PMI's CAPM or Project+ here, or something like Cloud+ since cloud is the biggest buzzword to put on your resume now. CompTIA certs are great for their purpose: one test = one cert, in a vendor neutral topic. But most employers are going to want to see vendor-specific also, if not up front then within 6 months of hiring. But if the Net+ and Sec+ get you in the door, then they will likely help you with those others they require, and that's what it's all about.... Even a job I interviewed for, and was qualified for, reposted the job to require Cisco CCNP and Checkpoint firewall CCSA within 6 months of hire - since I have 20+ years experience but certs in this area have expired. If you are bothered by the cost and effort to get two certifications, IT isn't for you. Our field and its certification requirements are constantly changing. The only other field I see similar issues at work is the medical field (since my wife is a RN and has to constantly retrain and qualify including in specialty areas like cardiac care - technical fields change and require this effort). By the way, I don't recommend this field to anyone else. You have to have a passion and aptitude for it. If you don't, then you are better off getting a business degree or project management. Then you can just make decisions, delegate the work to the IT folks, and take the credit but shed the blame :-) It's basically a thankless job that you have to enjoy to make it worth the effort. And that's the end of my essay.

  • Kevin Robinson

    Saturday, May 18, 2019

    I am a huge proponent of doing the Job searches first and see the certs that are in demand in the job descriptions but don't be disheartened if you don't have them. I find that most companies writing job req. don't really understand what the actual job requires, so they put all of these certs in the req. It makes sense that we all have a rational discussion. I am a Cloud expert and it is not rational to expect a lot of certs for things that are just emerging. BTW, most of the skilled people don't yet have the cert because they have been busy working.

  • Bekithemba dube

    Saturday, May 18, 2019

    I was repairing all kinds of laptops for the past 15 years (printers,Tv,s electrical appliances and auto repairs and stuff but I didn't have papers so l have decided to take advantages of the comptia certification exams last year (2018) l took A+and passed very easy,l am taking the N+ in June (2019) I am studying from home,which comptia study materials can I use.?

  • Robert Writewell

    Saturday, May 18, 2019

    The key is to first identify the job you are wanting to get, and then look at the certifications that would beneficial to obtaining that job. No one should start with the certifications first and then seek a job that asks for them - that is kind of like spending four years getting a history degree and then being surprised that the market isn't falling over backward with offers for you. P.S. In response to the CAPTCHA - I am not a robot, but wouldn't mind being one.

  • Monday, May 20, 2019

    Hi, WS! Thanks so much for your insight. You make some great points. I'll add that A+, Network+ and Security+ build upon each other, and training for and getting those certifications can help build a foundation of IT knowledge that will benefit you in any number of IT careers. So, for someone who has less experience, it might be beneficial to start at the beginning of the pathway and work their way up. But as you said, and as we've said in other articles, it's important to have all three corners of the triangle - education, experience and certifications.

  • Monday, May 20, 2019

    Hi, Bekithemba! Thanks for your question, and congratulations on earning CompTIA A+! We have several options for self-study that may help you prepare for CompTIA Network+. First, download the exam objectives so you know what topics are covered by the exam and you can identify what you already know and what you need to work on. Next, consider some of our self-study tools, including the Official Study Guide for CompTIA Network+ (available in print or as an eBook) or the CertMaster line of products. CertMaster Learn is a great first step to learn new material, CertMaster Labs gives you hands-on practice in a virtual server environment and CertMaster Practice helps you get into exam mode by taking you through questions and helping you to gain confidence in your knowledge and test-taking abilities. You can also check out our official video training partner ITProTV. Learn more in the training section of our website: https://certification.comptia.org/training/self-study Good luck!

  • Amy

    Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    Hi, I'm currently enrolled in a Masters program for Cyber Security. The degree should prepare me for the following certifications: CEH, Security+, CISSP, and Encase Certified Examiner, should I also be looking at any other certifications to get started. Several websites listed Network+, should I also look into this? My background is not in IT. Thank you.

  • Tuesday, June 11, 2019

    Hi, Amy! Thanks for your question. Those cybersecurity certs are definitely good ones to have on your radar, but as you said, you may want to pursue some more general IT certs first to give yourself the background of how IT works and what you'll be protecting as a cybersecurity pro. CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ can all provide a great foundation of IT knowledge if you don't have the years of experience your peers might have. This article offers some good insight on that topic: https://certification.comptia.org/it-career-news/post/view/2017/07/21/networking-as-the-foundation-of-it-why-you-shouldn-t-skip-algebra-to-start-with-calculus Good luck!

  • Tiffany

    Thursday, August 15, 2019

    Hi, I have been in the IT industry for just under 10 years I have more experience in the support area of IT than management and I want to advance in my career. I went so long without having a certification and that's because I had an associate degree since 2008 and work experience. I never saw the need for certs until now since I've been in the military for 2 years and finishing my Bachelors I will need more than a recent degree in Technical Management to be competitive in my field. I wanted to know what best certs to get with my experience as I want to get a security+ but not sure if I should also pursue A+ to solidify my previous experience in support.

  • Thursday, August 15, 2019

    Hi, Tiffany! Thanks for your question. In terms of which certification to get, it really depends on what jobs you are looking at and what they might require. The good thing about CompTIA certifications is that there are no prerequisites, just recommended experience, so you can get the certification that makes the most sense to you at this point in your career. Someone with 10 years of hands-on IT experience would likely be beyond an A+, but if you want the credential on your resume, you likely would have an easy time passing, as you've probably encountered most if not everything covered. CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ all show a solid understanding of IT fundamentals and are broadly applicable to any number of IT jobs. Once you get beyond that, CompTIA certifications tend to specialize along the infrastructure or cybersecurity career pathway. The webpages for each certification list jobs related to the certification as well as recommended experience in the Exam Details tab, and the exam objectives will show you exactly what topics are covered. Click on "Certifications" in the navigation menu to check things out, or view all the certifications at once on this page: https://certification.comptia.org/certifications/which-certification Good luck!

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