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May 4 2009   3:27PM GMT

Erik Eckel Opines on “10 Best IT Certifications”

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

In digging through some Microsoft PR materials recently, I came across mention of a Top 10 IT certification list that Erik Eckel put together for TechRepublic, later reprinted by big-time training company Global Knowledge. Though it’s dated December 12, 2008 it still provides some interesting information for consideration, and some fodder for ongoing debate. I’m not quite sure that I fully understand his selection criteria which he describes as follows “While this list may not include the 10 best accreditations for you, it does catalog 10 IT certifications that possess significant value for a wide range of technology professionals.”

Here’s his list as ranked at TechRepublic in straight numerical order:

  1. MCITP (Microsoft Certified IT Professional), with specific mention of database developer, database administrator, enterprise messaging administrator, and server asministrator
  2. MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist), with specific mention of SQL Server business intelligence, database creation, or SQL server administration
  3. CompTIA Security+, with an observation that “security continues to be a critical topic”
  4. MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer) with specific mention of the Windows Developer 3.5, ASP.NET Developer 3.5, and Enterprise Applications Developer 3.5 tracks
  5. CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate), with an emphasis on increasing dependence on remote access technologies, even at smaller companies
  6. Comptia A+, iwth an emphasis on “proven support expertise” in the areas of desktop installation, problem diagnosis, preventive maintenance, and computer/network troubleshooting.
  7. PMP (Project Management Professional) with an emphasis on “job skills and knowledge required to plan, execute, budget, and lead a technology project”
  8. MCSE/MCSA (Microsoft Certified System Engineer/Administrator) represent Microsoft’s previous take on basic admin (MCTS) and professional (MCITP) certs, and enjoy amazing certficiation population numbers–as Eckel observes “…these certifications tend to indicate holders that have been working within the technology field for a long time.”
  9. CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) receives mention for “…building a respected, vendor-neutral security certification,” that’s also accredited by ANSI.
  10. CompTIA Linux+ get a nod because “…the open source alternative is an important platform…”

Given these choices, it’s no wonder that Microsoft is promoting this list: they’ve garnered 4 out of 10 (really 5 out of 11) choices therein. CompTIA might also take cheer as well from the inclusion of Network+, Security+, and A+ (of which Network+ and A+ are by far its most popular credentials). And certainly, all the other elements in the list–CCNA, PMP, and CISSP–are all immensely popular and highly sought-after credentials as well.

Though Eckel’s selection criteria and methods aren’t entirely clear, this blog makes me wish that would revive its Top 10 lists, which used to be an interesting marker between one year and the next for IT professionals. At  least their list came from a survey of thousands of active IT participants, an could in some sense be argued as representative of collective interests. Funny how those lists of yore don’t differ too much from Eckel’s list, either.

I wouldn’t have any arguments with this list, in fact, if it used the word “Popular” instead of “Best” to describe its constituents, because there’s almost no argument about any of these on a pure numbers basis. But the definition of best is one that’s fraught with peril, and certainly subject to lots of differing interpretations. While he does give the CCIE passing mention in his CCNA item, I’d be inclined to put it in any Top 10 Best I were to put together,  and I’d be more inclined to pick rather more senior-level credentials rather than entry-levels ones like the CompTIA items, MCTS, and CCNA. But that’s my “best” interpretation showing. What’s yours?

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