5 Best Entry-Level IT Certifications

Starting a career in IT is a bit like learning to ride a bicycle. Some get it right the first time around, and away they go. Others, especially those with limited experience working with computers, need more support to get up to speed with their chosen field before advancing to a job.

If you’re considering a career change to IT, there is no shame in using your training wheels and getting certified in the absolute basics before tackling more technical certifications.

In many cases, it’s the smartest thing you can do. You wouldn’t go see a doctor who decided CPR wasn’t worth learning, would you? The same idea applies to IT professionals — fancy skills are worth little in the real world if you can’t demonstrate the basics.

Here’s a list of five IT certifications that are perfect for anyone with limited experience hoping to break into the well-paying world of IT.

We’re avoid the word “easy” because it’s a subjective term, the certifications listed here have been chosen according to a few criteria, namely:

  • No prerequisite exams needed and can be taken immediately
  • Little to no hands-on experience or theoretical background required
  • Shortest study time and/or least amount of material to study

1. CompTIA IT Fundamentals

CompTIA is an established certification authority that provides internationally recognized certifications for professionals working in all fields of IT. Certifications like CompTIA A+ or Network+ are often included in minimum requirements sections for entry-level positions like IT helpdesk support.

Taking on the A+ is no easy feat though, even for IT folk with a year or more of experience under their belt. For the absolute beginner to IT, CompTIA has a little-known certification called IT Fundamentals that’s intended to introduce newcomers to the most basic concepts in modern computing.

After achieving your IT Fundamentals, the A+ and subsequent certifications won’t seem so harrowing — as you will have a solid base on which to further build your knowledge in IT.

This course is not recommended for those with working experience or a general background in computers, but it makes an excellent certification for those starting from scratch.

Next steps: CompTIA A+ or CompTIA Network+

2. Linux Essentials Professional Development Certification (PDC)

Do you fancy yourself as a rebel? Then you might enjoy picking up an entry-level Linux certification. Linux is a free, open-source, and community-based operating system used for both desktop and server computing, and skilled Linux professionals have always been in great demand.

The Linux Essentials PDC certification is designed to give students a birdseye view of how the Linux operating system works, without assuming any previous knowledge.

Starting with an overview of open-source software, the PDC takes you by the hand and walks you through the history of how Linux came to be, and then proceeds to explain basic usage of the various Linux tools and components.

Be warned: this certification does assume at least some natural aptitude for working with computers, but if you’re looking for the easiest stepping stone toward mastering Linux, this is it.

Next steps: LPI Linux LPIC-1 and CompTIA Linux+ Prep

3. Cisco Certified Technician (CCT)

If you know your way around computers well enough and would prefer to skip straight to the networking side of IT infrastructure, Cisco has a nifty certification for entry-level network technicians called the CCT.

With a CCT to your name, you can effectively add “Network Handyman” to your resume and start working as a hands-on Cisco hardware technician. Typical duties include installing, troubleshooting, and repairing Cisco routers, switches, and other network-related devices.

There are three specializations, or “Tracks”, within this certification:

  • Data Center
  • Routing and Switching
  • Telepresence

Next steps: CompTIA A+ or CompTIA Network+

4. Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)

The Microsoft Technology Associate certification is a fantastic starting point for a future career supporting and developing Microsoft products. There are no prerequisites for the MTA and Microsoft allows you to choose one of several exams to complete, any of which will earn you the MTA.

One downside to this certification is that it won’t qualify you for any higher level certifications, and acts as a standalone fundamentals course in its own right.

That said, the freedom to choose between learning either IT Infrastructure, Databases, or Development makes the MTA a perfectly reasonable certification to get your feet wet in one of those areas without making a huge commitment.

5. Apple Certified Associate (ACA)

Apple is currently the third largest PC vendor in the US, yet Mac PCs don’t see much use in the corporate environment. It’s not really their thing.

This doesn’t mean that Macs are out of the picture for certification, though. The ACA is a certification focused on how to get Mac users integrated into a traditional IT environment based around Windows. An honorable duty, indeed.

Unlike with most IT certifications, you can take the ACA online in the comfort of your own home or while sitting at the coffee shop. Study material for the course is a mere 50-page PDF that’s freely available at the Apple Training site — and the exam only costs $65!

Next steps: Check out our new Mac training. Coming soon!

Whether you’re just getting into the IT field or studying for advanced certifications, CBT Nuggets has IT training for everyone. Start your free week!

  • Thomas NUYABIZNZ

    If you want a high stress job that pays 15.00 per hour choose one of the certs mentioned above. Employers will push you past your limits and skills for little money. Choose at least a CCNA and work towards a CCNP if your ambitious. Youll get more money and know more about what your doing with networking.

  • K

    For someone with zero experience how long would it take to get a ccna?

  • K

    And I mean zero, like does not now how to use excel and power point and is 29 years old.

  • Thomas NUYABIZNZ

    well lis zero experience I would give at least a year. That would give a good foundation of networking avoid high priced boot camp training theyre a total ripoff. IP Subnetting, IP routing and routing protocols switching vlan segmentation, QOS these are the basic skills sets required.

  • Fran Demarco

    So what the best course of action Thomas since boot camps out of the question..self study?

  • Thomas NUYABIZNZ

    You’re going to need to get Cisco’s training books icdn1 and icdn2

    The certifications cover the topics in these books they’re quite extensive browse over one first get a foundation for networking if you have zero experience also get familiar with the OSI model.
    So you can reference the various technologies that would apply to network concept such as layer 1 through 7 networking pretty much encompasses 1 through 4 of The OSI model.

    Let me know of any questions and icdm one comes with actually a CD which will give you a lab where you can actually build and configure Network components based on Cisco’s iOS that’s their command line interface let’s linux-based that’s how these systems are programs

    That will get you started and save you a ton of money bootcamps cost approximately 4 grand for a two-week training course.

    Good luck

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