Almost all industries have certifications and exams that not only follow stringent standards to prove you are qualified to practice in that field, but also are critical to your career.

Accountants have the CPA (Certified Public Accountant), financial professionals have the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), attorneys have to pass the bar examination and doctors are board certified. While information technology certifications have been around for many years, they traditionally have been recognized as optional.

Obtaining a certification does not guarantee you a job, but it can make you highly marketable. You have professional credibility in that subset of technologies, and employers can gauge your skillset before engaging with you.

When filling IT positions, recruiters and hiring managers often look for two of the following three things: Experience, degrees and certifications. A majority of candidates often will have degrees and experience but not certifications.

The Computing Technology Industry Association surveyed more than 400 companies on IT training and certifications (HR Perceptions of IT Training and Certification) with 72% of the respondents reporting they frequently use IT certifications as a requirement for certain positions.

Being certified could be a great investment for your career. It demonstrates that you are not only interested in keeping your skills up-to-date, but also shows your initiative to learn new technologies.

Many employers recognize that those who have certifications are willing to prioritize their career and go beyond regular job responsibilities to be more efficient and knowledgeable.

Certifications sometimes can provide additional job security by validating your commitment to grow technically and professionally. In the CompTIA survey, 92% of respondents confirmed IT-certified individuals receive higher starting salaries than those without IT certifications and 90% reported IT-certified individuals are more likely to be promoted than those without certifications.

Many companies provide their employees with the time and funding for technical training.

These companies often will incentivize their technical staff by offering bonuses or rewards for achieving certifications, which is how they attract and retain top IT talent.

In today’s market, with the integration and complexity IT has with core business functions, credible certifications can help provide a level of comfort for an organization that needs IT services.

If your company is performing these tasks internally or partnering with a Managed Service Provider, ensuring that those responsible for the tasks have been certified by the vendor provides an additional layer of reassurance for customers and clients.

In this era of rapidly changing infrastructure such as cloud, software-defined networking and anything-as-a-service, the demand for certified IT personnel is critical. While the journey to obtain IT certifications will require commitment, the long-term value for your business and career could be paramount.

Ron Cornwell, is manager and Derrek Atherley, is a supervisor at RSM US LLP. They are part of RSM's technology and consulting practice.

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