Best Project Management Certifications for IT Pros

Experienced IT project manager, Mary Kyle, breaks down the most valuable PM certifications for tech professionals and software developers.

best project management certs

The field of Project Management is hands-down one of my favorite career paths. Project management is challenging. It pulls in elements of resource management (human and tangible), planning, scheduling, risk mitigation, scope, finances, and so much more. For individuals with an eye to detail and who love the challenge of taking a mere concept from initial planning to the final product, then project management just may be the career for you.

For IT professionals and developers, project management can be an exciting career opportunity. Project managers who possess technical skills are in high demand. A search for technical project managers on SimplyHired yielded over 90,000 job posting. Granted, this was just a snapshot in time but no matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of employers seeking project managers who possess technical skills! It’s a perfect win for employers as well as IT pros and developers.

Whether you’re a seasoned project management pro, looking to make a mid-career transition to project management, or simply exploring what project management is all about, certifications can help you achieve your career goals. There are many different project management certifications available today and selecting the right PM certification may appear daunting. How do you choose? In reviewing certifications, consider where you are in your PM career (entry level, mid-career or experienced). Has your organization adopted a specific project management methodology such as Agile, Six Sigma, or Scrum? Are you located in the US or another geography? These types of questions will help you select the cert program that is right for you.

Below, we’ll take a look at a few of my favorite project management certifications. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of PM certifications. But these are all well-respected, globally recognized, and sought after by employers. You’ll find them a welcome addition to your career portfolio.

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The Best IT Certifications for Beginners

If you want to break into the technology field, proactive training and experience – validated by industry-recognized IT certifications – is a great way to begin. These certifications are the best for beginning IT pros looking to land an entry-level position.

best it certifications for beginners

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of Americans their jobs and made it difficult for 2020 college graduates to find work. Additionally, the advent of a larger remote workforce means the state of jobs today looks pretty different than it did just one year ago. Perhaps you’re looking to change careers. Now may be the perfect time. If information technology is a field that interests you, here’s what you need to get your resume noticed and your foot in the proverbial door.

Train Before You Get the Job

Yes, IT skills are in-demand right now. If you’re researching a career in IT you’ve probably read about the IT skills gap. Essentially this means that there are more technology jobs available than qualified professionals to fill them. The good news is, there are plenty of resources out there to skill up to get one of these in-demand positions. One of the best ways to validate your knowledge in the technology industry is via IT certification.

Certifications aren’t just about adding a gold star to your resume. The skills and knowledge gained through proper certification training and exam prep is exactly what IT departments need. The skills gap is slowly hurting organizations and the best solution is upskilled employees. Preparing for, and earning, an IT certification(s) is one of the best ways to gain the critical skills employers need.

The Best Certs for IT Beginners

Before we get into the best IT certifications for beginners, let us first define “best.” It is, after all, a subjective term. Does best mean it will make you more money? Lead to more interviews? Or does best mean that employers are specifically looking for these credentials?

We have decided the “best” certifications for IT beginners are those that will help you get an entry-level job. To that end, we’ve matched desirable entry-level tech roles with the skills needed to land that job, then paired the most marketable certifications with those skills.

Here are the best IT certifications for beginners, segmented by 3 of the hottest technical domains:

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The Best Free Online Computer Courses

The Internet boasts a wealth of free computer training for those who know where to look. Here are some of the best free online courses available right now.

This article will be updated continually with the latest and greatest schools and courses.

Rankings are unbiased; ITCareerFinder receives no compensation from links to the best free online courses.

best free online computer courses

Nonprofit organizations, technology companies, and educational institutions provide free computer courses across all IT subjects and skill levels. Some do this to expose more people to their software or hardware, while others strive to make top-notch education more accessible. Regardless of the training provider’s mission, self-motivated learners can capitalize on this massive cache of free online computer training to grow their skill set, earn certifications to validate their expertise to prospective employers, and gain exposure to new IT careers.

To compile our list of the best free computer courses, we looked at numerous factors including relevance of curriculum, ease of accessibility, course quality, and provider reputation. We also endeavored to represent the top training options across multiple categories and skill levels.

In no particular order, here are our favorite online training providers and their best free computing courses:

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How Important are IT Certifications for Landing that Dream Microsoft Tech Job?

Value of Microsoft Certifications

"Skills gap" is a phrase that anyone working in the digital skills arena will have heard a lot over the past couple of years. The information technology job market is booming right now, with open positions massively exceeding the number of qualified candidates available to fill them.

Job seekers have more choice, and more leverage, than ever before. But just because it’s a candidates’ market doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be pulling out all the stops to put yourself head and shoulders above your competition.

The growing talent shortage offers a tremendous opportunity to tech workers willing to throw themselves into that skills gap and fill it. Transforming yourself into the ideal candidate will not only put you ahead of others in the market, but it gives you leverage to land a higher salary and better benefits.

One of the best ways to bolster your skills and make your value abundantly clear is by earning certifications. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to give you the edge—a recent survey found that 54% of Microsoft tech professionals hold an official Microsoft certification, making it a smart move for those wishing to compete in the market.

Which certification is best for you depends on your career plans and what you’re looking to specialize in, but there’s no doubt that simply having an accreditation on your resume will boost your marketability. It could substantially improve your earning potential too; research by Microsoft found that 23% of Microsoft Certified technologists received a 20% salary increase after earning their certification.

Why do hiring managers value these certifications when considering candidates?

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DevOps: Hot Skills, Tools, & Certifications

A breakdown of the myriad skills, platforms, and credentials that will help you succeed in the red-hot field of DevOps engineering.

DevOps Skills and Tools

What is DevOps, and why is it smoking hot right now?

DevOps is a combination of the words Development and Operations. An approach to software development with roots in Agile, DevOps breaks down the walls that separate the software development side of IT from the operations side. DevOps has many goals including improved communications between software development and IT operations staff, and the better, faster creation of applications that are immediately fit for production use.

DevOps is hot due to its proven competitive business advantages. “High-performing organizations [in this context, organizations that use DevOps] decisively outperform their lower-performing peers. They deploy [software] 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 times faster lead times, recover 24 times faster, and have three times lower change failure rates.” – The Puppet 2016 State of DevOps Report.

To prepare for a career in DevOps, learn what skills are in greatest demand, the tools and technologies you should master, and the certifications that can show employers you measure up.

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Top Paying IT Certifications for 2015

Top Paying IT Certifications 2015

In the rapidly shifting IT landscape, certifications are the most reliable tool employers have to validate your skills in the latest computer systems and IT job roles. These ten certifications will have the greatest impact on your salary in 2015 and beyond.

Technical training leader, Global Knowledge, and respected industry publication turned online community, Windows IT Pro, recently published their 2015 IT Skills & Salary Report -- featuring a comprehensive salary survey of more than 16,300 IT professionals -- giving us valuable insight as to just how much the leading IT certifications can increase your earnings.

Most remarkable this year is the dominance of information security credentials, sweeping the top three spots and representing half of 2015’s top 10 highest paying certifications. Certificates in network design and administration, as well as those that demonstrate knowledge on the business side of IT, in areas like project and service management, are also hot right now.

To reduce statistical anomalies, this list only includes certifications with at least 100 salary survey responses.

Here are this year’s highest paying technical certifications:

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Top 10 Highest Paying IT Certifications for 2014

Alongside marketplace demand, salary is a key factor in deciding which IT certifications to pursue. These ten credentials will maximize your earning potential through 2014.

Top Paying Certifications 2014

In addition to keeping the “lights” on, organizations want an IT workforce that will help cut costs, manage risk and influence smarter business decisions. IT professionals with skills in virtualization, information security, business intelligence, software development and project management are best poised to achieve these goals, so it’s no surprise that credentials in these hot and emerging domains will dominate the top paying IT certifications in 2014.

This post will break down the tech certifications with the highest earning potential, according to the industry-respected 2013 IT Skills & Salary Report by Global Knowledge and Windows IT Pro. To eliminate statistical anomalies, this ranking only includes certificates with 100 or more responses.

Here are the top paying IT certifications for 2014:

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Certification Path for Cyber Security Professionals

Subject matter experts break down a best-in-class certification track for IT security professionals.

cyber security certification path

As cyber attacks continue to escalate in frequency and sophistication, businesses are making it a top priority to acquire talent who can help protect their digital data and infrastructure. In a high-stakes field where protocols change at the speed of attackers' imagination, only those with the latest and greatest skills will succeed. Certifications are the best way to prove the value and relevance of your cyber-security skill set to prospective employers.

With dozens of globally-recognized certifications to choose from, mapping out a cyber security learning plan can feel overwhelming. This post will break down an ideal vendor-neutral certification track for IT security professionals.

Why vendor-neutral? Vendor-neutral certifications demonstrate expertise that can be applied across multiple technologies, as opposed to vendor-specific certifications, which validate skills in a particular product line, such as Cisco network devices. Once you have the job (or have it in your sights) and you know which technologies the company uses, then it’s time to pursue vendor-specific certs.

Here is a rock-solid certification path for general cyber security professionals:

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Online IT Schools