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What cloud certifications can help me with my job security?

I've heard that cloud certifications can improve IT job security as more companies are moving to the cloud. Are there particular certification programs that I should look at?

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Education has a tenuous place in IT. Every IT professional requires a level of formal education, but that education is rarely the reason for their original hiring or advancement. In addition, a large number of IT certifications are vendor- or product-based, tying the IT professional to particular vendors or their products, which is not always in the best interests of the business.

Cloud certifications are even more questionable because "cloud" is considered to be a hot topic, and myriad different providers offer certifications. Today there are more than 50 cloud-related certifications available from over a dozen vendors. It's hard to quantify the value of certifications in such a shifting landscape. Ultimately, education is beneficial, but you must be selective. Otherwise you can waste a tremendous amount of time and money on certifications with dubious benefit to the company.

The best strategy is usually to start with certifications that are considered vendor-neutral, such as CompTIA Cloud Essentials or offerings from the Cloud Security Alliance. Then you can pursue more specific training to match the vendor tools being deployed in-house. Just remember that most organizations value experience above education, so focus on matching the certification to the company's needs in order to add the greatest value to the company.

About the Author
Stephen J. Bigelow, senior technology editor in the data center and virtualization media group at TechTarget Inc., has more than 20 years of technical writing experience in the PC and technology industry. He holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, along with CompTIA A+, Network+, Security+ and Server+ certifications, and has written hundreds of articles and more than 15 feature books on computer troubleshooting, including Bigelow's PC Hardware Desk Reference and PC Hardware Annoyances.

This was first published in April 2013

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