Why IT Certification?

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Why IT Certification?

NOTE: What we won’t cover here are salaries, compensation, and job growth. If that is what you are curious about click here for our article about IT pay in 2021.

Competence is front and center

The number one reason why you would care about certification, other than having it required by your employer, is probably to deepen and formalize your skills and knowledge and by doing so setting yourself apart. There is no question you can go far on trial and error and the experience that comes with that. However, you know that this method leaves you with blind spots. Filling those blind spots is a not trivial confidence booster. Not only that but guess what? Many employers rely on formal knowledge and skills to make sure they don’t hire too many blind spots…

Infographic showing certification statistics
The root cause of certification in the IT sector is the high need for competency.


Although fundamentally important, pure competency is not the only factor behind the growth of certification. This is maybe especially true for IT certification for support personnel where some employers will require certification for specific job roles.  An example that stands out is of course the Department of Defense (DoD) that has a whole list of certifications it requires. A notable one is Security+ certification that it often requires not only for its own employees but also for its sub-contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and many more.

So between employers seeking to hire to a known standard of competency, IT professionals wanting to sharpen their skills, and some large organizations mandating certification it’s no wonder that IT certification has grown so strong.

We above, a little vaguely, talked about “setting you apart” with IT Certification. Here we can see here that a bit more specifically that IT Certification puts you in the top 20% among IT professionals.

Shows man at his desk thinking about reasons to be IT certified.
Ten million individuals are IT certified worldwide.

Varying corporate needs

We have touched above on the main reasons employers want IT professionals to be certified and below is a survey performed by the Frost & Sullivan consultancy that goes a little deeper into those reasons. It comes as no surprise that the number one consideration is competency as discussed above. The second choice, “quality of work” is intimately related to the first one if not the same thing altogether. Regulatory requirements here seem to be related to the last one “customer requirements”. which relates to the DoD example we cited above.

“Company policy” we can see an example of at Best Buy’s Geek Squad which as a policy requires all their support technicians to be A+ Certified. This is of course because they want qualified employees but also because they want to be able to demonstrate to their customers, and indeed reassure them that only qualified people will work on their equipment.

Reasons given in a survey by employers for requiring certification.

Reasons that were given by employers for requiring certification.

Who demands it?

So, in addition to the DoD and the Geek Squad, who else requires some or all of their IT staff to be certified? Below graphic shows a partial list. Many of these employers are manufacturers of computer hardware or devices. They have generally been a strong driver of IT certification because some of them require that only IT-certified staff work on any warranty-related claims not only within their company but they also put that same requirement on the retailers selling their equipment. This puts the retailers in a situation where they also have to employ certified staff. You can see how those things will snowball and impart a lot of momentum for certification.

Graphic of office buildings showing logos of companies.
Employers that require all or some of their employees to be IT certified.

Sources for this post: CertBlaster, DTI Publishing Corp, CompTIA, Frost & Sullivan. Robert Half International, Microsoft, ComputerWorld, Linux Foundation, (ISC2) Foundation.

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