10 best IT certifications for beginners

Ready to start your IT career? Give it a boost with these entry-level IT certifications

Man holding a tablet and laptop

IT careers not only offer high salaries and lots of job security, but they're also growing at a significantly higher pace than most other roles.

However, these positions aren't just handed out to anyone. While a degree is a great place to start if you're targeting an IT career, there are other ways to stand out from the competition, and perhaps the most significant is to earn a few basic IT certifications. 

These certifications are almost like badges for Boy Scouts as they display your skills, making you a more attractive hire to employers. With hundreds of IT certifications for beginners, picking the right one may be a bit overwhelming. 

Below, we'll cover the top-10 IT certifications for beginners looking to launch their high-tech careers. 

1. CompTIA A+

Potential job titles: 

  • Help desk technician: $40,731
  • Technical support specialist: $50,893
  • Field service technician: $50,356

Certification cost: Two exams at approximately $170 each ($340)

Certification overview: In our research, no certification came up as frequently at CompTIA A+ for beginning IT professionals. This is a broad-coverage certification that sets you up for PC or network repair and troubleshooting. 

Comp TIA A+ covers everything from PC components to mobile devices, networking and security. It’s a must-have for anyone in the IT field.

2. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

Potential job titles:

  • Network Engineer: $71,033
  • Systems Administrator: $62,161
  • Network Administrator: $59,939
  • Systems Engineer: $70,088

Certification cost: $325-600

Certification overview: The CCNA is another certification that gives you a broad range of skills with a focus on networking. 

Getting your CCNA shows employers you not only have the basic knowledge of networking systems, internet protocol and security, but you are also up to speed with the latest innovations in the field. 

3. Cisco Certified Entry Level Technician (CCENT)

Potential job titles:

  • Support Technician: $44,762
  • Help Desk Technician: $40,731
  • IT/Network Support Technician: $46,825

Certification cost: $165

Certification overview: If you’re not certain about obtaining the CCNA certification yet, there is a more basic and more affordable certification that can boost your resume: the CCENT. 

This introductory certification for networking and IT displays your ability to install, maintain, operate and troubleshoot basic networking systems. 

4. CompTIA Network+

Potential job titles:

  • IT consultant: $78,686
  • Computer technician: $41,018
  • Help desk technician: $40,731
  • System engineer: $75,060
  • Network analyst: $59.929

Certification cost: $329

Certification overview: Similar to the CCNA, the CompTIA Network+ is a great certification for beginners looking to show off their base knowledge of networks. 

The primary difference is that the CCNA works exclusively with Cisco products, while the CompTIA Network+ certification is not brand specific. The CompTIA Network+ certification showcases your understanding of installing, operating, troubleshooting and maintaining networks. 

5. CompTIA Cloud+

Potential job titles:

  • Systems Administrator: $61,935
  • Systems Engineer: $75,060
  • Security Engineer: $89,457
  • Network Engineer: $71,033

Certification cost: $329

Certification overview: The cloud is here, and it’s here to stay. Having a certification that displays your understanding of the basics of cloud-based infrastructure services is a great way to get a leg up on the competition. 

From setup to security, this certification will help you set yourself apart as an IT professional who is proficient in cloud-based technology.

6. CompTIA Security+

Potential job titles:

  • Cyber Security Analyst: $75,875
  • Information Security Analyst: $71,727
  • Network Engineer: $71,033
  • Network Administrator: $59,132

Certification cost: $349

Certification overview: Systems security is more important than ever. Even entry-level IT jobs will have a lot of security issues to deal with, so it makes sense to be prepared. 

The CompTIA Security+ certification shows your understanding of risk management, risk mitigation, threat management and intrusion detection.

7. Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)

Potential job titles:

  • Mobile Application Developer: $73,430
  • Database Administrator: $73,233
  • Network Administrator: $59,132
  • Network Architect: $120,931
  • Help Desk Technician: $40,731
  • Website Developer: $59,287

Certification cost: $60

Certification overview: Let’s face it, most businesses use Microsoft products as their basic platform. So, it’s only logical that a certification proving your ability to navigate this common platform can help. Plus, at only $60 for the exam, it’s a small price to pay to invest in your career.

8. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

Potential job titles:

  • Systems Administrator: $61,935
  • Network Administrator: $59,132
  • Systems Engineer: $75,060

Certification cost: $165

Certification overview: The MCSA displays your knowledge of Microsoft systems. It is also a prerequisite for several more advanced certifications, so if you want to be an IT professional in a Microsoft environment, this is a great one to have. 

In February 2020, Microsoft announced it will discontinue this certification and will not award any new ones after June 2020. Is it still worth having? Yes! As long as the systems are still in use, it pays to have the knowledge to work with them. Plus, your certification will be valid as a prerequisite for the next 12 months. 

9. Certified Informations Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Potential job titles:

  • Information Security Manager: $113.633
  • Information Security Analyst: $71,727
  • Cyber Security Analyst: $75,875
  • Security Engineer: $89,457
  • Information Security Officer: $92,402

Certification cost: $699

Certification overview: The CISSP is the most expensive exam on this list, but it could still be worth it if cybersecurity is your thing. 

Companies put a premium on keeping their information and systems safe, so a certification that showcases your ability to design, implement and run cybersecurity programs could jump-start your career in a big way.

10. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

Potential job titles:

  • Windows Administrator: $61,935
  • Network Manager: $86,699
  • Systems Administrator: $61,935
  • Systems Engineer: $75,060
  • IT Support Engineer: $63,535
  • Technical Consultant: $75,302

Certification cost: $150

Certification overview: The MCSE shows off your expertise in all things Microsoft. Don’t you like the sound of “Solutions Expert”? That’s what people want when they call IT. They want experts and solutions. 

This certification sets you up to be just what employers want. Unfortunately, it’s another one that Microsoft is discontinuing in June, so get it while you can. 

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