What Certificate Should I Get for an Information Technology Career?

Working in information technology (IT) requires both technical know-how and practical skill. Employers expect applicants to be able to verify that they have what it takes to meet the requirements of this diverse field. While on-the-job training may suffice for some industries, the IT field typically requires educational credentials.

Besides boosting your resume, the education you receive while earning an IT certificate or degree can provide you the opportunity to learn specific technical skills and knowledge that can help you as you prepare to enter the field.

In this article, you’ll learn about IT certificate programs, how they differ from certifications, and how you can choose the best IT credentials for your goals as we explore the following sections:

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What is an IT Certificate versus a Certification?

It’s important to note that an IT certificate is different from an IT certification.

An IT certificate is given to a student for completing a program at an institution of higher learning such as a college or university. By contrast, an IT certification is given by a professional organization to confirm that a person has shown a certain level of competence with a specialized tool or skillset. Where IT certificates demonstrate education in the specified field, IT certifications represent the passing of a professional exam aligned with industry standards.

While certificate programs do not automatically lead to certifications, they can help prepare you to pursue them.

Who Benefits from an IT Certificate Program?

IT certificates are different from IT certifications, but both add value for job candidates and employers alike.

As a potential job candidate, having an IT certificate on your resume communicates to employers that you have taken the time to acquire skills that are relevant to the position you’re applying for. It may also signal ambition and willingness to learn.

As an employer, hiring job candidates that hold an IT certificate or higher credential can strengthen the team’s core competencies.

IT certificate programs can benefit employees and employers by keeping them up-to-date with knowledge about current and future technologies. This may build the team’s expertise and encourage continued learning, since the technology field is always evolving.

Some of the benefits of earning an IT certificate may include:

  • Meeting job competencies – Fulfillment of employer requirements or preferences.
  • Professional credibility – Validation of IT skills for current and future employers or clients.
  • Increased on-the-job efficiency – Establishing a baseline of knowledge that is consistent across the industry, or expanding your understanding of new technology and processes.

What IT Certificate Programs are There?

A number of IT certificate programs are offered at the college level. At DeVry University, our online Undergraduate Certificate in Information Technology Essentials includes Tech Core curriculum, which combines the latest technological concepts with opportunities for hands-on learning.

This type of IT certificate may be ideal for beginners, or for adult learners looking to switch their careers into the IT field. Our Undergraduate Certificate in Information Technology Essentials will introduce you to a range of IT concepts like programming, cloud computing and operating systems. Students will learn about networking, data analysis, the Internet of Things and digital devices, as well as technology principles through programming with languages like Python. Best of all, you will be taught by an experienced and knowledgeable faculty who can give you insights into the real world of information technology.

This certificate also helps prepare you to pursue the CompTIA A+, CompTIA LINUX+, CompTIA NETWORK+ and the CompTIA Cloud+ certifications, should you wish to.

Our Undergraduate Certificate in Information Technology Essentials may be completed in as little as 8 months, or even more quickly with qualifying transfer credits1.

Several programs at DeVry are stackable, meaning that credits earned in the Undergraduate Certificate in Information Technology can be applied toward earning an Associate Degree in Information Technology and Networking at DeVry, which can then stack into one of four technology-focused bachelor’s degrees at DeVry3.

Here are just some of the programs at DeVry that credits from our IT essentials program can be applied to:

  1. Associate Degree in Information Technology and Networking
  2. Bachelor's Degree in Computer Information Systems
  3. Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Technology
  4. Bachelor's Degree in Software Development

What Type of IT Work Do You Want to Do?

Deciding which area of IT you want to go into is challenging if you’re new to the industry. To help you out, here are the top three information technology jobs, according to a US News report:

  1. Software Developer – Software development involves the designing of computer programs, systems and applications.
  2. Data Scientist – Data science uses scientific methods to extracts insights from structured and unstructured data.
  3. IT Manager – IT management involves the monitoring and maintaining of information technology systems, from computer hardware to software and information systems.

To help you decide which field of information technology you want to go into, here are five clear steps to help you figure out what you want to do as a career in IT:

  1. Research different IT careers. Read articles online or talk to people you know who work in the industry. These can be career professionals or beginners. The point is to gain new knowledge, network and begin to understand the pros and cons of the industry.
  2. Identify your strengths and aptitudes.Use self-assessment tools like an interest inventory or a career quiz to help you identify what interests you already have that may be applicable to information technology.
  3. Review your work history. Look for any crossover or interactions with IT that you’ve had in past roles. Identify what you liked and disliked about those experiences.
  4. Consider the required education. What educational requirements or experience will you need to break into your field of choice? Are there professional certificates or certifications that you could be working towards?
  5. Get first-hand experience.Reach out to find opportunities to shadow, intern, volunteer or do informational interviews.

Once you’ve selected the best career option for you and plotted your route, it’s time to get started! Investigate the programs available to you and start working towards enrollment.

If you’re not sure how to proceed, feel free to contact us to request more information so you can decide what pathway will work best for you.

How to Choose the Best IT Certificate?

Starting a new career can be intimidating. Selecting the right IT certificate program can go a long way toward giving you the information and confidence you need to make better decisions about your career path.

Understanding what your goals for your IT career can be very helpful for program selections.

For example, if you’re interested in entering the IT industry, you may want to consider a program that provides a solid foundation now but can be rolled into a higher-level degree later. This can help you earn a credential quickly that may prepare you to pursue entry-level jobs, then pursue a degree to become eligible to pursue higher-level jobs after you graduate.

What Jobs Can I Pursue with an IT Certificate?

So far, we’ve covered how to get specific about the type of IT work you want to do. We’ve discussed what IT certificates may be relevant and how long those certificate programs can take to achieve. All that’s left is to identify the targeted outcome — getting hired.

Here is a list of some of the careers that graduates of our Undergraduate Certificate in Information Technology Essentials may consider:

  • Computer Network Support Specialist – A computer network support specialist analyzes and troubleshoots computer network problems.
  • IT Help Desk Support Specialist – A IT help desk support technician works with internal customers outside of the IT organization to assist with diagnosing and resolving computer problems.
  • Entry-Level Network System Administrator – An entry-level network system administrator deploys and maintains wireless infrastructure and supporting network systems.
  • Computer Systems Analyst – A computer systems analyst looks at the strengths and weaknesses of an existing system and identifies areas of improvement to ensure that systems are hitting targeted goals for performance.

Build Your Foundation in IT at DeVry

If you've identified your interest in the field of information technology, DeVry's online Undergraduate Certificate in Information Technology Essentials is a great way to begin learning principles and skills to become proficient in IT.


1Not including breaks. Assumes year-round, full-time enrollment.
2The figures displayed represent the minimum credit hours required for graduation. At the time of application to the next credential level, an evaluation of qualifying transfer credit will occur and the most beneficial outcome will be applied.
3At the time of application to the next credential level, an evaluation of qualifying transfer credit will occur and the most beneficial outcome will be applied.