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What IT Certification Should You Pursue?

“While this is a highly individualized decision, there is no one best certification for everyone in every situation.”

The quick answer is that there is no one best certification for everyone in every situation. The best certification for you will depend not only on what you’ve done but also on where you want to go. When a recruiter looks at your certifications, for better or worse, they will define where you have decided to put your energies, and where your expertise lies.

This might also be a good time to mention that there is a HUGE difference a certificate and certification – but that will be a subject for a future blog.

The first decision to make is whether to go the route of a vendor-neutral, or vendor-specific certification. Both have their pluses and minuses. For vendor-neutral certifications, CompTIA dominates because they span many technologies, across many levels. These certifications will have the broadest appeal across most companies and job categories.

On the other hand, certain vendor-specific certifications are very well recognized and can be the key to certain IT positions. Microsoft, Amazon, and Cisco certifications have well-earned recognition and reputation – but only for employers using those specific technologies. And each vendor also has further specialization based on a specific technology. For example, just a few of the Microsoft technologies include Azure, Windows Server, Power BI , and SQL Server. Choosing a specific vendor and specific technology means narrower focus – but more impact.

Most certifications also have varying levels which demonstrate your level of specialization and expertise or mastery. It should be pretty obvious that the higher the level, the greater the impact, but the greater the commitment in time and money on your part.

The point of this is that there isn’t anyone single best answer for everyone. But if it was me looking for a single certification to pursue, here’s what I’d look for:

  • technology on the upswing with lots of growth, with “legs”
  • what are employers looking for
  • field that isn’t over saturated
  • fast track to certification

My highly opinionated conclusion – it would be hard to find a better certification than the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. And there’s plenty of third-party validation of this:

10 Highest-Paying IT Certifications for Tech Pros
5 Best Cloud Certifications 2019

This is an associate-level certification with the widest breadth of AWS services coverage. It’s also one of the most popular because it acts as a starting point for many professionals looking to dive into the world of AWS certifications. One of the reasons for its popularity – instead of being super specific to one area or domain of platform, it has a wide overview, which means that training for it provides a fantastic introduction to what the AWS platform is capable of.

I’m going to shamelessly put in a little plug here for the TLG AWS Certified Solutions Architect Accelerated Learning Program. Obviously I’m more than a little biased – but I think it stands head and shoulders above others as the best way to get this certification. Email me at if you’d like to chat about why.