Computer science certificate: what you need to know

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Computer science certifications are non-degree credentials that verify that you have certain information technology or cybersecurity skills. Obtaining a certificate in computer science proves that you have current, practical and practical knowledge.

Salaries for computer science certificate holders average around $ 63,000 according to PayScale, but can reach up to six figures. Read on to learn more about the process and value of getting a computer certification.

How to get a certificate

The time and effort required to achieve certification depends on your experience with a particular software or digital application. For example, a tech blogger suggests that someone with some experience with Amazon Web Services could prepare for the AWS Solution Architect exam in about three weeks, but a complete newbie should allow six weeks.

In contrast, candidates for the Certified Information Security Manager certificate must meet prerequisites that include five years of experience in information security management. (You can submit an experience waiver for up to two years.) Once you’ve established your eligibility, registered and paid for the 150-question exam, you have a full calendar year – 365 days – to the past.

Most computer certification or cyber certification exams are offered online. You can even take exams from the comfort and privacy of your home. That said, some certifications require exams at in-person testing centers.

Plus, few certifications last forever. For example, AWS Solution Architect and CISM certifications expire after three years.

What is the value of a certification?

Computer science certificates generally offer a good return on investment in time and money. A recent analysis found that 52% of those surveyed said cloud-related certifications had broadened their career opportunities.

Computer science certifications typically focus on a unique and specific skill or role. It’s different from getting a college degree or a computer science degree. Degrees and diplomas generally require general education courses. Each year, approximately 65,000 American students graduate in computer science. In contrast, hundreds of thousands of IT and cybersecurity professionals are certified. All of these people are part of a US workforce of approximately 2.1 million IT professionals.

Over 80% of people with a cloud certificate said they earn a higher salary from this certification. On average, IT professionals who acquired new skills or certifications saw their salaries increase by approximately $ 12,000.

Some certifications, like Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert, or CCIE, cost around $ 2,000. While you can recoup that investment in salary in a short time, it can be more difficult to quantify the value of your time spent studying and preparing for the test.

These certifications are requested

There are hundreds of IT certifications to choose from. To help you make up your mind, we’ve rounded up some of the most popular:

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Partner

  • Exam: multiple choice test of 65 questions
  • Cost: $ 150

Businesses of all sizes use Amazon Web Services, a technology based on Amazon. This Solutions Architect certification validates that a person has demonstrated knowledge and ability to design and implement distributed systems on AWS. It is ideal for people with at least one year of hands-on experience with AWS technologies.

Certified ethical hacker

  • Exam: 125 questions, multiple choice test
  • Cost: $ 1199

People who pursue the Certified Ethical Hacker, or CEH, certification learn the latest professional hacking techniques and methods. You then apply that knowledge ethically and professionally to help organizations improve their security. Individuals with this certification can hold more than two dozen positions, including information security analysis, network security engineering, or cybersecurity analysis.

Cisco Certified Network Associate

  • Exam: Approximately 120 multiple-choice, single-answer and simulation questions
  • Cost: $ 300

CCNA certification demonstrates competence in network fundamentals, such as automation and programmability. No prerequisites are required, but Cisco suggests that those seeking this certification have at least one year of work with Cisco technologies. Individuals who achieve this certification may have the opportunity to work as entry-level network engineers, help desk technicians, or network administrators.

CompTIA + Security

  • Exam: Up to 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions
  • Cost: $ 370

This global certification validates that you have a basic level of computer security skills and knowledge. The CompTIA Security + certification indicates that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to assess the security situation of an organization. This certification also validates that you can recommend and implement security solutions, monitor and secure cloud, mobile, and Internet of Things environments, and identify and respond to security incidents.

Google Professional Data Engineer

  • Exam: 50 questions
  • Cost: $ 200

As the use of cloud-based technology continues to grow, organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to fill IT positions. This Google certification demonstrates that you have the skills to design, build, manage and scale a cloud system based on Google technologies. The benefits of obtaining this certification include the ability to enroll in a public directory of accreditation holders created for the certified community. This visibility could facilitate connections for employment and professional networking.

Easy IT certifications

Quick and easy are subjective measurements. But consider this: there are a lot of computer science certifications you can study in about six months. Check out these three popular entry-level IT certifications that cost $ 125 or less.

Cisco Certified Technician

  • Average certification study time: Six months
  • Cost of the exam: $ 125

This certification verifies your ability to perform on-site diagnosis, repair, and replacement of Cisco network and system devices. Two CCT paths are available: data center or routing and switching. The CCT Data Center certification covers the support and maintenance of Cisco Unified Computing systems and servers, while the Routing and Switching specialization focuses on on-site support for routers and switches.

Microsoft 365 Basics

  • Average certification study time: Four months
  • Cost of the exam: $ 99

This certification proves that you understand Microsoft 365 applications and services. These skills include security, privacy, the benefits of the SaaS cloud model, and user support. Microsoft 365 includes the world-popular Office software suite, as well as cloud-based tools and features. Formerly known as Office 365, more than 50 million people had subscribed to Microsoft 365 as of April 2021.

Google Cloud digital leader

  • Average certification study time: Two weeks
  • Exam cost: $99

This certification assesses three areas of knowledge: Google Cloud products and services, Google Cloud knowledge, and general cloud knowledge. Individuals with this certification are “well versed in basic cloud concepts and can demonstrate broad application of cloud computing knowledge in a variety of applications.” The company claims that Google Cloud Certified Professional Architects can earn an average salary of $ 139,529.

This article was reviewed by Brian Nichols

A head and shoulders photo of a bearded white man in a gray suit with a blue tie.

Born and raised in upstate New York, Brian Nichols began his studies in computer science at a vocational high school where he focused on computer science, computer fundamentals, and networking. Brian then went to his local community college, where he received his computer science associate. He then obtained his Bachelor of Science in Applied Networks and Systems Administration from a private college. Brian now lives in Kansas City, where he works full time as a DevOps Engineer. Brian is also a part-time cybersecurity instructor. He is passionate about cybersecurity and helps students succeed.

Brian Nichols is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Independent Review Network.


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