Top 8 IT Certifications for Government Employees

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IT Professionals working for the federal government are fortunate in that they have the chance to learn more and get professional certifications for their work. If you plan to work for the United States government, there are some IT certification programs that you need to get under your belt to give yourself an edge over other applicants. It's not easy to get an IT job in a government institution; a stellar academic background and impressive work experience might sometimes not be enough to put you above other applicants. That's why IT certifications are so important.

For example, the U.S. Department of Defense has specified several security-related certification programs for their employees with their Information Assurance Workforce Improvement Program. IT pros that hold these certifications are more likely to get jobs within the Department of Defense.

So if you're interested in working for the government, take a look at these 8 popular IT certifications that the US government recommends and oftentimes requires their IT workers to hold.

8. Federal IT Security Professional Certification

While all other certification programs are often generalist in nature, the Federal IT Security Professional Certification takes into consideration what your skills are and what you know, while also certifying that these are in tune with Federal best practices and standards.  It is open to IT professionals already working in government.

The FITSP Certification has four different roles that a candidate can choose from:

  • Manager - For those who oversee IT security in their organizations, such as IAMs, CISOs and ISMs.
  • Designer - This is for system developers and designers and other engineers who are responsible for developing and designing an IT system.
  • Operator - This is for database administrators, ISSOs and other personnel who manage, maintain and operate information systems.
  • Auditor - These are for public accountants, inspectors and other professionals who audit and review an information system.

The FITSP Certification Exam is a 150-question, computer-based exam that costs $295 each.  Passing score is cut-off at 75%.  Candidates who fail in an FITSP exam can take a similar one at a 50% discount in the future.

CompTIA

7. CompTIA A+ Certification

The Computing Technology Industry Association's A+ Certification is for those who are in federal IT support departments.  It validates that an individual has all the necessary skills and knowledge for the job of installing, maintaining, securing and troubleshooting IT systems.

To be certified, you would need to pass two exams:

  • CompTIA A+ Essentials - This is a 100-question examination wherein you have to get a score of 675 out of 900 to pass.  You need to have at least 500 hours of hands-on experience and this would test you on computer technology, security, networking and even professionalism and communication skills.
  • CompTIA A+ Practical Applications - This is a 100-question examination wherein you have to get a score of 700 out of 900 to pass.  This will test you on the more practical applications of the skills pinpointed for the CompTIA A+ Essentials exam.

6. CompTIA Network+

The CompTIA Network+ Certification proves that you have all the fundamental skills and knowledge to have a federal job in the areas of network installation, network technologies, topology, media, network management and network security, as well as knowledge on the open system interconnection model and virtual networking.

So if you are a government employee, specifically an IT cable installer, help desk technician, network technician, or similar positions, this is the certification for you.

This is a 100-question exam and you need a score of 720 out of 900 to pass.  You also need CompTIA A+ certification and at least nine months of experience in a networking function.

5. CompTIA's Security+

CompTIA Security+ is a certification exam for IT security professionals. It gauges your competency in network security, access control, identity management, compliance, operational security, detecting and handling vulnerabilities and threats, host, data, application security, and cryptography.

Security architects, information assurance technicians, security administrators, systems administrators, network administrators and systems consultants will be tested to see if they have sufficient knowledge in the tools, procedures and concepts of security, anticipating risks and protecting the system.

This is a 100-question exam with a passing rate of 750 out of 900.  You would need at least two years of experience in technical networking with a focus on security-related functions.  A CompTIA Network+ certification is also necessary.

Microsoft Certification

4. Microsoft Certification Programs

There are Microsoft Certifications for all skill levels covering most technologies produced by Microsoft.  These are classified into six levels:

  • Microsoft Certified Architect – Gives out advanced certification for architects.
  • Microsoft Certified Master – Certifies experienced IT professionals and their ability to meet even the very complex requirements of a business.
  • Microsoft Certified IT Professional – Certifies that an IT professional knows how to deploy, support and optimize different IT infrastructures.
  • Microsoft Certified Professional Developer – Certifies that IT professionals have the requisite skills to design, develop and deploy applications that are required in their own jobs.
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist – Shows in-depth expertise and knowledge in various technologies and platforms.
  • Microsoft Technology Associate – Helps students and undergraduates explore job options in IT and technology.  This also prepares personnel for other Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist exams and other advanced studies.

What Microsoft certifications do you need in order to work for the government? You need a Microsoft Certified Professional Developers certification level for your specific job function. For example, get a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers certification if you work as a system analyst, systems engineer, technical consultant, support engineer, or a network analyst.  The Microsoft Systems Administrator program can show that you can implement systems and troubleshoot them within a Windows Server environment.

Examinations for the Microsoft Certified Professionals certification typically cost you $150 and have around 40 to 90 multiple-choice questions.

3. ITIL™ Certification

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library Certification (ITIL™) signifies that the individual has sufficient knowledge of the best practices involved in IT service management.

There are several levels of ITIL™ Certification:

  • a. Foundation

    This is the most basic level of certification, which proves that the individual has learned all the terminology, basic concepts and structure espoused by ITIL™. This involves at least 18 hours of instruction and a 40-question multiple-choice exam. Passing score is 65%.

  • b. Intermediate

    This actually has two tracks: Service Lifecycle and Service Capability.  Service Lifecycle is focused on the different stages of strategy, design, transition, operation and improvement. It needs at least 21 hours of instruction, and a 70% passing score on an 8-question multiple-choice exam.  The Service Capability track, on the other hand, involves four different modules.  This requires at least 30 hours of instruction and at least a score of 70% on an 8-question multiple-choice exam.  You also need to have an ITIL™ Foundation certification or its equivalent.

  • c. Managing across the Lifecycle

    This level basically completes the two Intermediate tracks by providing the individual with the skills to implement either track.  It focuses on the management and implementation of Lifecycle practices.  This requires at least 30 hours of instruction and a score of at least 70% on several multiple-choice questions.

  • d. Expert

    To be certified as an ITIL™ Expert, you would need at least 22 credits from the first three levels of ITIL™ certification.

2. Certified Information Systems Security Professional

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) covers a wide range of information technology and security topics focused on the following:

  • Access Control
  • Cryptography
  • Network Security
  • Operations Security
  • Risk Management& Security Governance
  • Security Architecture & Design
  • Software Development Security
  • Disaster Recovery Planning & Business Continuity
  • Legal, Compliance, Regulations, & Investigations
  • Physical Security

CISSP is provided by the International Information Systems Security Certifications Consortium or (ISC)2.

To be certified you would need:

  • At least five years of experience in information technology security focused on the ten areas specified above or an equivalent educational degree or certification from similar organizations.
  • To accept the organization's Code of Ethics and answer queries about one's background.
  • To get a score of 700 points out of the 1000 possible score in a 250-question multiple-choice examination.
  • An endorsement from another CISSP member.

If you do not have the necessary experience or educational background you could still get certified as an (ISC)2 Associate.

CCNA

1. Cisco Certified Network Associates

Although it is vendor-specific, the Cisco Certified Network Associates is quite popular among IT professionals working in the federal government because it also prepares them to work with other protocols.  This certification signifies that the individual has all the necessary skills and knowledge to administer different Cisco devices on their networks.  It has different tracks, including:

  • Security
  • Wireless
  • Voice
  • Routing and Switching
  • Service Provider Operations

These exams, costing approximately $100, typically have about 78 questions that take 2 hours to answer.  Passing scores differ, but generally you should get more than 80% of the questions correct.

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Contributor

Michael Gabriel Sumastre

Michael Gabriel Sumastre is a skilled technical blogger and writer with more than seven years of professional experience in Web content creation, SEO and research paper writing. He has written more than a thousand articles related to tech and gadgets, cloud computing, IT management, SEO, SEM and software solutions. He ghostwrites books / e-books and has a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science. Michael is also an expert in webmastering and loves to ride his sportsbike. He maintains his portfolio and personal blog at TheFinestWriter.com