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Top 10 IT infrastructure certifications that can supercharge your career

The world of computing and infrastructure development is continuously evolving. In this ever-changing world, what are the certifications that can help you? The demand for cloud-based knowledge and automation awareness is increasing among employers across the globe. Although this demand is not obliterating the necessity for traditional hardware and software knowledge, it is increasing the demand for software-defined operations, work-flow management through scripting, and reducing the necessity of hardware-based management tasks. At the moment, the knowledge of automation is providing a certain level of job security that was unseen even five years ago. It is time for people to upgrade their job skillsets to remain relevant. That brings forth the necessity to acquire the “right” certifications that add value to a job applicant’s resume. While you could choose a random number of general types of certifications or acquire vendor-specific ones, not picking the right ones might not provide you with job security at all. According to tech experts, the perfect certification strategy is the one that seeks balance between the certification types and sources. Here are 10 IT infrastructure certifications that have grabbed the attention of tech enthusiasts across the globe:

Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)

According to a Cisco spokesperson, the CCDE certification was designed for the design engineers, network leads of IT infrastructure teams, and architecture teams working at the expert level. Their jobs require them to interpret the operational budget, needs and constraints while designing a converged solution. The written examination is of two hours and it has 90 to 110 questions. The practical exam is eight hours and the candidates have to complete network design projects for specific scenarios within the given time. The cost of the written exam is $450 and that of the practical exam is $1,600.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

The CCNA certification has multiple variants including Cyber Ops, Cloud, Wireless, Data Center, Collaboration, Security, Routing and Switching, Industrial, and Service Provider. The CCNA exam consists of 60 to 70 questions and the exam lasts 90 minutes. The validation of the CCNA certification is only three years and revalidation requires the candidate to pass the same exam once again. The cost for the CCNA exam is $325.

CompTIA Server+

The CompTIA Server+ exam is a vendor-neutral certification that is useful for IT infrastructure professionals. Qualifying for the certification requires extensive knowledge of storage and security, visualization, and cloud/in-house datacenter troubleshooting. It is a 90-minute exam that has 100-multiple choice questions. Passing requires a score of 750 out of 900. It has lifelong validity. The cost of the CompTIA server+ test is $302.

Dell EMC Storage Administrator

Over the last year, all three variants of the Dell EMC Storage Administrator certification gained at least 10 percent market value. The three levels include — associate, specialist, and expert. The exam typically has 60 questions that the applicants have to answer in 90 minutes. To pass, one must get a score of 61. Thirteen percent of the questions are on security and management replication, 15 percent on datacenter infrastructure, 20 percent on storage networking, 23 percent on backup, replication and archiving, and 29 percent on storage systems. The cost for the associate level certification exam is $200, and the costs of the other levels vary.

HP Accredited Integration Specialist (AIS)

The HP AIS has experienced a significant surge in popularity in the last year. It is an entry-level qualifying certification that network engineers, who wish to work on wired network solutions, might find useful. As per the latest updates, it has become apparent that the AIS certification is soon to become the Accredited Technical Professional (ATP) certification. You might find a few third-party vendors offering the AIS certification, but the HP/HPE official site no longer promotes the exam. The format and cost of the exam might change depending upon which one you take.

Juniper Networks Certified Internet Professional/Expert

The JNCP includes four distinct tiers — associate, specialist, professional and expert. According to a report by Foote Partners, acquiring the highest levels of JNCP certifications can increase the salary of professionals by 10 percent. The certifications have several variants including Junos Service Provider Routing and Switching, and Data Center Enterprise Routing and Switching. Professionals must pass a two-hour MCT consisting 65 questions. The expert JNCP certification requires the candidate to pass a practical test. The cost is usually $400 for professional certifications and $1,400 for expert.

NetApp Certified Data Administrator, ONTAP

The ONTAP certification covers core ONTAP features including front-end client protocols, storage provisioning, networking, performance, security, compliance and data protection. The ONTAP exam has two tests – the NetApp Certified Data Administrator ONTAP exam and the NetApp Certified 7-mode Data Administrator Exam. While both exams last 90-minutes, and has 60 questions, candidates have to answer 38 of the 60 questions correctly for the first one and 48 of the 60 questions correctly in the latter one to pass. The cost of the ONTAP certification is around $150.

AWS Certified Solution Architect — Professional (AWS-CSA)

Since cloud has become the past, present, and future of every enterprise, the value of the AWS-CSA certification has increased incredibly. It certifies that the candidate has exclusive and advanced skills in the design of distributed applications on the AWS cloud platform. The tests consists of several multiple choice questions that the candidate has to answer in 170-minute in either English or Japanese. The certification is valid for two years. The practice exam costs around $40 and the actual AWS-CSA certification exam costs around $300.

MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect

One can get the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certificate after clearing a series of three tests. Although this certification is in high-demand, it is a bit challenging to acquire. It certifies the skillset of the candidate to manage architecture, development and administration of the Azure solutions. The exam contains a mélange of question types including MCQs, case studies, short answer types, long answer types, and more. It is classic for Microsoft to update new testing techniques regularly. The cost of the MCSD: Azure Solutions Architect certification is $495 in total.

Certified OpenStack Administrator (COA)

It is a simple certification test that certifies that the holder has the skills necessary to manage the daily operations of an OpenStack cloud. It is a hands-on test that lasts 2.5 hours. The candidate must have experience working on OpenStack for six months at least. It has three-year validity and the certification costs around $300.

Infrastructure certifications: From niche to necessary

The 10 infrastructure certifications mentioned cover the areas of data management and security, cloud computing, networking, and project management. They are not mandatory for any professional, but they do help in qualifying for expert job positions, and payment appraisal. They speak about niche qualifications that are now become necessary for tech experts to remain relevant in their respective fields.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Benjamin Roussey

Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA. He has two master’s degrees and served four years in the US Navy. His bachelor’s degree is from CSUS (1999) where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship. He has an MBA in Global Management from the Univ. of Phoenix (2006). Currently he lives in the Phoenix area after living in Cabo San Lucas, MX for 3 years. He enjoys sports, movies, reading, and current events when he is not working online.

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