Certificates

What is a Certificate?

A certificate offered by a college or university allows you to focus on a certain skill or advance your knowledge in a particular area of study. For instance, if you want to expand on your existing technology background and are interested in preventing cybercrime, you might earn a certificate in cybersecurity.

Some certificates are a useful starting point if you’re beginning your college education and want to test the waters. Other certificates can only be earned if you already have a college degree.

Unlike a degree, certificate coursework focuses less on theory which is why these programs can be completed in a year or less.

Today, technology students are spoiled for choice. Schools across the country offer certificates in a wide range of technology categories, from game development to software engineering.

Explore Programs

Computer and Electronics Technology

From hardware to robotics, plug into this fast-moving field.

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Network Administration

Keep the digital information highway flowing smoothly.

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Computer Science

Drive the digital revolution with this versatile credential.

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Computer Systems Technology

Become a help desk hero (and more) in this hands-on arena.  

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Cybersecurity

Outsmart hackers and stop cybercrime before it happens.  

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Database Administration

Manage and maintain the mission-critical data behind daily life.  

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Forensics

Learn how to become a crime-fighting cybersleuth.  

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Game Development

Blend your creative talents and tech savvy to build new worlds.  

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Information Systems

Get down to business by connecting people and technology  

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Information Systems Security

Halt hackers and defend data from cyberattacks in this growing field.  

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Information Technology

From the server room to the board room, make tech work for business.  

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Network Security

Protect the links that tie together people, technology and information.  

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Software Application Development

Brainstorm, code and build addictive new software innovations.  

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Web Development

Turn digital visions into reality with a mix of design and coding skills.  

Learn More ›

Computer and Electronics Technology

From hardware to robotics, plug into this fast-moving field.

 

Learn More ›

Network Administration

Keep the digital information highway flowing smoothly.

 

Learn More ›

Computer Science

Drive the digital revolution with this versatile credential.

 

Learn More ›

Computer Systems Technology

Become a help desk hero (and more) in this hands-on arena.

 

Learn More ›

Cybersecurity

Outsmart hackers and stop cybercrime before it happens.

 

Learn More ›

Database Administration

Manage and maintain the mission-critical data behind daily life.

 

Learn More ›

Forensics

Learn how to become a crime-fighting cybersleuth.

 

Learn More ›

Game Development

Blend your creative talents and tech savvy to build new worlds.

 

Learn More ›

Information Systems

Get down to business by connecting people and technology.

 

Learn More ›

Information Systems Security

Halt hackers and defend data from cyberattacks in this growing field.

 

Learn More ›

Information Technology

From the server room to the board room, make tech work for business.

 

Learn More ›

Network Security

Protect the links that tie together people, technology and information.

 

Learn More ›

Software Application Development

Brainstorm, code and build addictive new software innovations.

 

Learn More ›

Web Development

Turn digital visions into reality with a mix of design and coding skills.

 

Learn More ›

Difference Between Certificate and Certification

To work in the technology field, do you need a certificate or certification? Or both? We explain the difference between the two.

A certificate program teaches you the skills you need to work in technology. Certificates are awarded by a college or university.

Certification is an industry credential that validates your technical knowledge and lets employers know you have mastered a specific skill set. Certifications are awarded by technology vendors, such as Cisco Systems, and non-profit associations like CompTIA.

Do I need both?

Sometimes. Most technology jobs require some level of education and in many cases, a certificate is sufficient enough to start working. It can also help delineate you from the competition.

Once you’re in the field, certification can make you more marketable, increase your salary potential and create advancement opportunities. Some employers even require it.

Does my school prepare me for professional certification?

Some colleges or universities partner with Microsoft, Cisco Systems and other vendors to offer courses that address the requirements for certification. Look for a school that is part of the:

  • Microsoft IT Academy
  • CompTIA Academic Partner Program
  • CISCO Networking Academy
  • C++ Institute Authorized Academy

Oracle

It was 20 years ago that Oracle developers created the famous programming language, Java. Today, IT professionals can become certified in this technology as well as 9 other areas Oracle specializes in. The company, a global provider of software, hardware and computer services for businesses and other enterprises, offers four levels of certification from the Oracle University:

Oracle Certified Associate (OCA): Demonstrates fundamental knowledge and considered a stepping stone to OCP certification.

Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Seen as the benchmark Oracle certification and validates skills in enterprise databases and applications.

Oracle Certified Master (OCM): Proves advanced skills and ability. Designed for highly-qualified IT professionals.

Oracle Certified Expert Program: Credentials designed for those with expert knowledge in niche technologies or areas not included in other certification paths.

IT professionals can earn their certification in one or more of the following areas:

  • Applications
  • Cloud
  • Database
  • Enterprise Management
  • Foundation
  • Industries
  • Java and Middleware
  • Operating Systems
  • Systems
  • Virtualization

To become certified, you’ll need to complete related training courses via Oracle University and pass an exam.

Microsoft

Few companies are as ubiquitous as Microsoft. The technology giant’s software, applications and devices are widely used, from schools to large corporations. For the IT professional, mastering skills related to the Microsoft brand is almost always necessary. The company offers three levels of certifications to demonstrate your expertise:

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA): Introductory certification. Designed for someone starting a career in technology.

Microsoft Solutions Associate (MCSA): Intended for current technology professionals looking to boost their credentials.

Oracle Certified Master (OCM): Expert-level certification focusing on technology design and building.

Oracle Certified Expert Program: Credentials designed for those with expert knowledge in niche technologies or areas not included in other certification paths.

IT Professionals can earn their certification in one or more of the following areas:

  • Server
  • Desktop
  • Applications
  • Database
  • Developer

Certain certifications have optional training available before you take the exam.

Comptia

As a non-profit trade association, CompTIA strives to advance the careers of IT professionals through certification. They offer vendor-neutral credentials in four levels.

Basic: Recommended for entry-level IT professionals.

Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Covers knowledge needed for specific needs and markets, such as healthcare.

Oracle Certified Master (OCM): Credentials that demonstrate skills and knowledge for a specific path of IT.

Oracle Certified Expert Program: Demonstrates advanced skills and the ability to work in complex environments across multiple disciplines.

Areas of certification include, but are not limited to:

  • IT Fundamentals
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • CompTIA Linux+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Storage+
  • CompTIA CDIA+
  • CompTIA CTT+
  • CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician
  • Social Media Security Professional
  • CompTIA CASP

C++

The C++ Institute offers three levels of certification for programmers looking to demonstrate their skill set. They build upon each other so in order to earn a more advanced credential, you must first earn a lower-level certification.

Associate: Knowledge of C++ basics and fundamental programming techniques.

Professional: Demonstrates advanced knowledge of algorithms and programming techniques.

Senior: Denotes expert skills and knowledge of very advanced programming in C++ language.

Oracle Certified Expert Program: Credentials designed for those with expert knowledge in niche technologies or areas not included in other certification paths.

The C++ test takes 75 minutes and the passing score must be 70 or 80 percent or higher, depending on the exam.

Cisco Systems

Cisco Systems, designer and manufacturer of networking equipment, has five certification levels available to professionals who work in computer networking.

Entry: For entry-level professionals who can diagnose issues and repair networking systems and devices. Good for three years.

Associate: Cisco refers to this as the “foundation level” and covers knowledge in installation and troubleshooting. Lasts for three years.

Professional: Demonstrates advanced networking skills. Certifications are specific to certain areas, such as cloud or security. Duration of three years.

Expert: Considered the most prestigious networking certification around the world. Recertification is required after two years.

Architect: Validates the highest level of knowledge in networking and confirms skills necessary to support business strategies. Good for five years.

Specialist certifications are available at associate, professional and expert levels and demonstrate knowledge in video, data center and security.

  • IT Fundamentals
  • CompTIA A+
  • CompTIA Cloud+
  • CompTIA Linux+
  • CompTIA Security+
  • CompTIA Storage+

Now that you know the difference between certificates and certification, you can take the next step toward an education or earning professional credentials. Ready to explore a different career? A certificate or entry-level certification can set you on the right path.

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