Top 5 Most-Valuable IT Certifications in 2013

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2013 is looking to be a great year for IT professionals; cloud and converged infrastructure are reshaping the landscape, which creates many great opportunities for people who can demonstrate expertise in these areas. I'm going to give you a list of what I believe to be the top 5 in-demand IT certifications to obtain in 2013. This is the stuff I'm looking for on the resumes of those I hire, and yes, we are always looking for talented people.

Here they are in countdown fashion!

5) MCSE: Server Infrastructure – Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Server Infrastructure

This certification is still on the list, and for the foreseeable future will remain on the list. Everyone still needs someone to manage their Windows servers. No matter what infrastructure these servers are running on, the OS is the same. This is the base certification I would look for in a Windows administrator. Yeah, I was also confused that they went back to MCSE and changed the acronym. MCITP will usually suffice as well, but it's best to get the latest version.

4) CCNA (or better CCNP) – Cisco Certified Network Associate/Cisco Certified Network Professional

In every public or private cloud, in every data center, in every network cabinet you are likely to find a Cisco network device. I am aware there are others out there, but you can't go wrong knowing Cisco. If you want to be a network guy and don't have at least your CCNA, you are going to have a bad time. If you want an even better chance of a great job and a higher salary, aim for the CCNP. If you want to really impress, go for CCNA/P: Data Center and show off that Nexus knowledge.

3) CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional

We all hear about companies that have been hacked, that have lost sensitive information, leaked credit card numbers, etc. Now we want to store all this information in clouds and access them via mobile devices. This keeps a lot of people up at night. Having a security guy is now a requirement for companies. Someone needs to assess the risk and mitigate it. This is the realm of the CISSP; this cert has been valuable in the past but will continue to grow.

2) MCSE: Private Cloud

I talked about this a bit in previous posts – Hyper-V is coming. While I don't anticipate this will kick VMware out of the top spot, Hyper-V is going to be popular. This is a hot new cert that will definitely separate you from the competition. This will likely be on my list of things to do as well.

1) VCP (or better VCAP) – VMware Certified Professional/VMware Certified Advanced Professional

This is still the first thing I look for on a resume and will continue to be for a while.  There are now multiple tracks of VCP; DV (Datacenter Virtualization) is the base and a necessity on any resume. VCP-Cloud will be one that really differentiates you and possibly puts you in a new pay grade. While there are 150,000 VCPs, there are less than 2,000 VCAPs. I think we can see the value in that. If you have VCAP on your resume, I will hire you, without even looking at anything else – that's how much value it has.

Honorable Mention – Converged Infrastructure

I guess this technically makes the list the Top 6, but I wanted to mention this area. There are many, many, many different certifications under the converged infrastructure umbrella. Some mentioned above can fall into this. This is the wave of the future, and is the present in many instances for IT infrastructure in the enterprise. Being certified in Cisco UCS, EMC and/or NetApp storage, Cisco networking, VMware, or HP converged platforms will be a great asset to you and your potential employer. The reason it didn't make the list is that its worth is somewhat dependent on your market area. These are really enterprise-level certifications whereas the list above is really independent of company size.

Now if you really want to make money, have a VDCX, CCIE, CISSP and be certified in FlexPod and vBlock. But that might be a conversation for another time!

Also, check out our article on the top 10 hottest IT skills in 2013 for more ways to vamp up your resume, and see our IT Certification 101 guide for a better understanding of certifications.

Ready to test your skills for the CCNA exam? See how they stack up with this assessment from Smarterer. Start this CCNA test now

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Matt Vandenbeld

Matt Vandenbeld is VCDX-DCV #107 and a vExpert, currently employed at Long View Systems in Calgary, Alberta, Canada as a Technical Architect specializing in virtual infrastructures. He holds numerous industry certs, RHCSA, MCSE, VCP, VTSP, VCAP-DCA/DCD, and many others. He's been in the IT industry for over 10 years, specializing in virtualization for the last six. Cloud and virtualization is my passion. I know, Im a geek. Or is it a vGeek?

I love to learn and talk about any topic, especially virtualization!