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Top three IT certifications you can get from scratch

Accessible online training can help you conquer some of the barriers to pursuing IT certifications.
Information technology certifications are highly respected testaments to a professional's training and expertise in Information Technology. Whether you're changing careers, branching into another facet of IT, or completely new to the IT sector, pursuing certification is a fast track to recognizable and transferable skills attractive to many employers. For example, studies show that certified professionals are able to handle over a third more tech support cases than non-certified employees.

Pursuing IT certifications used to be both expensive and inconvenient. New online courses enable you to jumpstart a new career through straightforward and highly accessible online training. Brenner Spear, a content developer at OpenSesame, a company that offers online training courses, talks about the top three IT certifications and how you can get them.

Oracle Certified Professional Java SE 6 Programmer

Prerequisites: None Time Commitment: 21 hours of course material + 2.5 hour exam Financial Commitment: $80 course + $300 exam fees

The median starting salary for an individual with an OCPJP certification is $50,800, which usually grows by $11,000 within the first 4 years of certification. There are currently 130+ jobs on Freelancer.com that require a Java programmer.

To become an OCP Java Programmer, there's only one exam you have to take: the Java SE 6 Programmer Certified Professional Exam. OpenSesame.com offers 1Z0-851 Study Exam Material, a comprehensive 21-hour interactive course covering the seven sections of the exam. These are a few of the topics covered in each section of the exam:

Section 1: introduces classes, methods, objects and arrays as variables, and how to declare an interface. Section 2: covers if & switch statements, for loops, for-each loops & while loops, and exceptions & exception handling (try, catch, finally). Section 3: teaches how to navigate file systems using FileReader and FileWriter, as well as integrate data from other code using APIs. Section 4: explains the different states in which a thread can exist. Section 5: describes the effect of modifiers on inheritance. Section 6: explains the process of determining which collection of classes would be best for different designs, as well as the different versions of the collections API. Section 7: introduces the garbage collection system, and how to recognize when objects are ready for garbage collection.

Alternatively, you may purchase a self-study CD set for $660 from Oracle themselves. When you have completed the study process, you can take the certification exam at an Oracle Testing Center or through Pearson VUE. Register for either through Oracle. This is probably the fastest way to get a credible certification stating you're a "professional."

Oracle Database Administrator Certified Associate

Prerequisites: None Time Commitment: 31 hours of course material + two 1.5-2 hour exams Financial Commitment: two $80 courses + $320 (total) exam fees

OCA Database administrators earn a median of $40,000 annually, which usually grows by $23,000 within the first 4 years. To become an OCA Database Administrator, you must complete two required exams, the 1Z0-051: Database SQL Fundamentals & the 1Z0-052: Database SQL Administration. Mindleaders, a seller in the OpenSesame marketplace, offers material for both.

The Oracle 1Z0-051 Exam Study Material presents 12 hours of material cut into seven sections which cover the basics of SQL database management. No experience is needed to take this course. Some of the topics in each section include:

Section 1: introduces the SELECT statement and how to limit/sort the rows retrieved. Section 2: introduces and explains the four main functions: SELECT, INPUT, DELETE & UPDATE. Section 3: covers group functions, and how to use GROUP BY & HAVING. Section 4: explains how to use JOIN commands, as well as what subqueries are. Section 5: describes, in depth, DML (data manipulation language) and DML statements. Section 6: teaches how to create tables and add constraints during their creation. Section 7: describes simple & complex views, and the differences between them. Explains sequences & indexes, as well as public & private synonyms.

The Oracle 1Z0-052 Exam Study Material has 19 hours of material cut into 10 sections which build off the foundational knowledge provided in the previous course. These more advanced topics include:

Section 1: explains memory structures and storage structures, and how to use all the tools for administering an Oracle database. Section 2: teaches how to create a database with the DBCA (Database configuration Assistant) and set it up the way you want/need it. Section 3: shows how to manage database storage structures and schema objects, as well as how to correctly use temporary tables. Section 4: covers network architecture and how to configure an Oracle Network Environment correctly. Section 5: explains how to keep an Oracle database secure by controlling accounts and privileges, as well as standard database auditing. Section 6: teaches how to recognize PL/SQL objects, and how to use undo and undo data. Section 7: covers an array of helpful tools, such as: automatic memory management, AWR (automatic workload repository), advisory framework, and memory advisors. Section 8: explains the concepts of backup and recovery, and how to make automated routine incremental backups. Section 9: covers the types of failures Oracle databases can experience and how to recover from them. Section 10: teaches how to import and export data using the Oracle data pump, as well as manage any patches released.

Both courses include three full-length practice exams to test your grasp of the material. When it comes to exam day, only a 60% and 66%, respectively, are required to pass. If you have some database experience, passing the 051 with no studying is probably possible, but it won't help your overall understanding of Oracle-specific topics, which could be a hindrance when taking the 052 course and exam.

Interested? Register for both exams with Oracle - the 1Z0-051 exam is even available online. Oracle also offers on-demand prep-seminars (videos) for both the 1Z0-051 and the 1Z0-052, for $650 a piece.

Linux Red Hat Certified System Administrator

Prerequisites: None Time Commitment: two full work-weeks Financial Commitment: two $2700 classes + $200 exam fees

OR Prerequisites: 1-3 years of full-time Linux administration experience Time Commitment: 21 hours of course material + 2 hour exam Financial Commitment: $80 course + $400 exam fees

For the last decade, Red Hat has been the leading Linux operating system for the enterprise user. Earning an RHCSA certification demonstrates your ability to administer Red Hat Enterprise Linux environments, including important common core skills like handling command-line environments and network file systems.

To pursue a Red Hat certification, you must attend Red Hat's on-site training, virtual training, remote classroom training or in-person training.

Linux Red Hat System Administration I (RH124) is the introductory course. Classroom training by Red Hat Inc. and classes from certified Red Hat instructors from sites like ExitCertified are available for $2,700. A few skills taught during the course include:
  • The how-to's of the graphical Installation of Linux
  • Dealing with physical storage
  • Using command line
  • Installing local components and services, as well as configuring them
  • Creating and securing networks & network services
  • Keeping files secure and organized
  • Creating and overseeing users and groups
  • Using file-sharing services
  • Using GUI-based tools and important command-line concepts
Linux Red Hat System Administration II (RH135) follows the RH124 course. Both classroom training from Red Hat Inc. and ExitCertified offer the course with the RHCSA exam included, but the class is $2900 (which means you're saving $200 on the normally $400 exam). The more advanced skills taught in this course include:
  • Troubleshooting networks, file systems and logical volumes
  • Handling file systems and logical volumes, and using a LVM (Logical Volume Manager)
  • Managing user and file access, as well as packages
  • Installing and managing services and processes
  • More important command-line operations
If you have 1-3 years of full-time Linux administrator experience, OpenSesame offers a course to prepare for the required RHCSA Exam (EX200). The RHCSA EX200 Exam Study Material comprises 21 hours of material cut into 9 sections. This course focuses on topics included in the exam that even experienced administrators will need to review, including:
  • Hardware and installation requirements
  • Installing RHEL 6 on a virtual machine over a network with the help of Kickstart
  • An overview of all the required command line skills
  • Controlling Security using firewalls, access control lists, file permissions, and SELinux
  • Everything that goes on during a startup
  • Filesystem maintenance, including logical volumes, storage encryption, and partitions
  • The Red Hat Package Manager
  • Managing users and groups
  • Administration tasks

Have certs helped you?

With excellent online and in-person training options, certification in the in-demand IT sector is within your reach. Do you have any of these, or other start-from-scratch certifications? Have they helped you start down a new career path?

Brenner Spear is a content developer at OpenSesame, the world's largest marketplace for buying and selling elearning courses. He is currently a student at Chapman University in Orange, California, majoring in CIS (Computer Information Systems) and Business.

52 comments
lolo1210
lolo1210

Does anyone have an idea of how having any of these certification, especially red hat may help you in a more business/corporate career?

JamesSimon123
JamesSimon123

These are interesting professions. Does anyone know what other technical professions you can get from scratch? There have to be others... I know that being an auto mechanic can be learned at a technical school from scratch. What other fields offer these kinds of jobs?

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keithmayer
keithmayer

If you're interested in exploring certifications in the IT Profession, you'll find that certified professional demand can vary quite widely by geographic area. Payscale maintains a nice system that can filter certified IT Professional pay ranges by certification and geo based on real survey responses from employed IT Pros. This may be helpful in selecting an appropriate certification path that will be better aligned to demand in your area. http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Certification=Microsoft_Certified_Technology_Specialist_(MCTS)/Salary#by_State If you're interested in pursuing Microsoft certification, you may also want to check out the FREE study guides that help prepare candidates for Microsoft certification, including the new MCSE: Private Cloud certification, available online here: http://aka.ms/studyguides Hope this helps! Keith http://KeithMayer.com - IT Pros ROCK!

ITCompGuy
ITCompGuy

When you have a job in IT and no certifications, it is easy to say that certifications are not needed. In a tough economy, you need every extra you can have when you are searching for a job or trying to change positions. Experience is great, but when you have the experience plus industry certification you will have a leg up on the competition. Try searching IT jobs in various cities. Even some of the jobs that those working in the field would consider entry-level are looking for experience, a BS degree, and preferably multiple industry certifications.

Knighthawk5193
Knighthawk5193

I can say that I havce been on both sides if this fence. I was once a LAN Administrator for a large internet / portal company, and they paid for my certification for Windows 2000 Administration, but when they went under, I found that the one cert wasn't enough, after a while I branched out and discovered Linux, I've been pursuing a certification in Linux ever since, I don't have the "chops" to go for the Oracle Red/Hat stuff.....but the "beginnier" Oracle cert should be easy to get....and if I can ace it, then I can use the increase in my current salary to finance more certs in Linux, which I've noticed pays extremely well....better than a Microsoft cert! I really admire those people who earn their CCNA / CCNE etc. to me THOSE people are "special" in that they have a skill that could be compared to a biological thing! I owuld love to get one of those, but the price to get one is way beyond my reach...unless I take out a loan for one!

mtho.ncube
mtho.ncube

Excellent article. I agree that certs set one apart from the rest the pack, moreover,they're an indespensable show of commitment to ones trade! I like the analogy that certified folks can handle a "third or more support cases" which simply shows the breadth and depth of these exams.

tedatwork
tedatwork

Top Three??? According to whom? It's obvious a blatant Ad, at least try to get something that's believable. This article is just ridiculous. 2 Oracle certs and a Linux cert are detailed in this? No Microsoft, no Cisco, no CompTia. Where do I nominate this for worst TechRepublic article of the year?

caballo2000
caballo2000

We had a major failure in a very good complex Cisco networks with about 20 vlans, several call managers, several Unity voicemail servers, 3 ASA firewalls, IDS, , riverbed accelerators, forescout security, etc. The provider we had with contract dispatch several technicians and no one was able to find out the problem we had with some tunnels and other network stuff. Another provider dispatch a guy who is CCIE and fix the problem in 2 hours. He spend 1 hour making diagrams and anotations, gather info from cisco devices, etc. When everything was clear for him, he not only fix the issue, he setup the devices to be fault tolerant. After the fix, I spoke with this guy. He say he learn more by experience, but the specific items he fix in our office, was learn during ccie training. So certs are really important in some cases.

mark.railton
mark.railton

I got my first main break in IT working for IBM with zero certs and only a little bit of experience that I had gained from helping a friend in his shop. SInce then I have had 3 other IT jobs, one as IT Administrator without certs. When trying to break into IT, certs dont mean all that much, you need to be able to show potential, and alot of companies dont always want people with certs for entry level jobs, as they can then train them to do it the way they want, thats how it worked in IBM doing tech support, I helped a friend get a job that could just about turn on a computer. I am now getting certified as I have a defined career path I want to take and I know that its going to take alot of hard work, study and time to get there. And to get into the position I want, I know for a fact that I am going to need some certs.

gmonahan
gmonahan

Security+, LPI Essentials, Linux+, are other contenders

MeijerTSR
MeijerTSR

No mention of a median starting salary, nor what it usually grows to within the first 4 years for any of the Red Hat Linux certs. Can any body expound on it? I know, salary will vary depending on what area of our great country we live in, but some idea would be nice.

bonnie
bonnie

I just applied and had an initial interview for an IT job. I have 20+ years in the field but no college degree and just a couple of Mickey Mouse certs (CIW and iNET+). The job is an excellent fit for my skill set... I have hands-on experience in everything the job requires and have even worked in a similar non-profit orginazation. What do you think my chances are when they compare me to someone with a Bachelor's and an A+, CCNA, MCP, etc. and only 2 or 3 years of actual on the job experience? How fair is that?

gurumentality
gurumentality

I just entered IT 7 years ago and I was over 30 years old. I was going to school for my bachelors degree in Business Administration and I had already obtain my A+ and Network+ certification. I was told by so many interviewers, I need experience not schooling. (Note: I agree with xangpow (A+, Network+, and Security+) are the best certs to start with. You can also pass these studying on your own with having a lab. That's very important.) So after being told I need experience, I quit school, and I received my first IT job a month later. A ton of jobs require A+ certifications and it has boosted my career a lot even over other qualified candidates.

jfuller05
jfuller05

I would say the A+ certification would be a good one. I'm not diminishing the "goodness" of this cert in any way by my saying you can get this cert from scratch. Instead, what I mean is that this cert forces you to get involved with core IT concepts: hardware, software, networking, and soft skills. The book I used advanced my knowledge. Yes, one can study the book, soak up the knowledge and pass the exam, but if one truly immerses himself in the book and couples that with hands on training (there were excellent lab setups in my book) then he will gain excellent foundational knowledge and hands-on skills. One truly just needs a good A+ book (Meyers'), lab manual, a few pcs and a 5 port switch to learn this stuff from scratch.

LinuxJC
LinuxJC

Of all the Certs listed in this article, the annual income benefit for Red Hat certifications is not given. Is it because the financial gain is so low, especially since their training is the most expensive by a long shot! I've taken the Red Hat training from Red Hat and for the cost; their classroom training is NOT designed to give the students a better chance of passing the exam than those who do not take their courses. It is my understanding that very few students pass the exam the first time even after taking the classes. For the amount of money Red Hat charges for their classes, their students should have a much higher success rate in passing the exam the first time, especially after taking RH124 & RH135! The problem I found with the class was that the instructor was more focused on covering the material in a given time frame, rather than making sure the students understand and gain a working knowledge of the material. For example, several Projects and Criterion Test were skipped over in order to stick to the timetable for covering the material. Not allowing adequate time to complete the projects during the class and not providing lab time after the 9:00am to 5:00pm class to finish and better understand the projects is the biggest downfall of the Red Hat training. Especially, since students can't go back to their hotel, office or home and create a similar problem on their Red Hat machine to solve. These hands on projects provide some practical experience which students cannot get elsewhere or in a production environment, that is, without bringing down the production system. Thus, these projects are extremely important to the student's success in fully grasping the material, as well as, in passing the exam. If not, then Red Hat should redesign their courses.

jownas
jownas

I am an IT zero knowledge. If I am going to study, what is the best course will I take or maybe the best path to take to become an IT? Any help will be appreciated.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

From scratch as in you know "nothing" and then you learn how to pass the exam for the certification. In what way is this valuable to anybody except the myopic fools promoting the certs? You are just going to end up with more cookie cutter types, who are useless as soon as they step out of their comfort zone. As soon as the version changes they'd have to take another one. Oh I get it..... Stop being part of the problem...

divyashree
divyashree

Its true that, these can be achieved from scratch, for that the career goal should be clear. For someone who wants certification from scratch, is hungry for deep knowledge . But what if some one wants having multiple certifications like RHCE+OCA ?? Will it be a positive for future ??

xangpow
xangpow

As a person that has looked for work with AND without certs, certs help. The only way to get a job without certs is to already have 10-20 years experiance working with other companies (or one company) and maybe know someone in the company. Other than that first get the "easy" certs (A+, Net +, Microsoft) then work on the harder ones (CCNA and Microsoft servers). I am still working on getting the Microsoft server certs. CCNA is a beast if you have never done networking before.

caballo2000
caballo2000

despite of some comments I normally see on several forums regarding IT certifications, I can tell you certs are very usefull. I see scenarios where we need to hire one IT guy and we have two options... yes, sure, we interview both of them, both seems to have similar skills, but we pick up the guy with A+, N+, CCNA, MCP, MCTS, CEH instead of the other guy with no certs. This is the real life.

SerrJ215
SerrJ215

I am suprised that there were no MS certs on this list.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

Median salaries plus 4 years experience for these jobs only brings me to what I'm currently earning, barely. Although I am where I am now (System Administrator & Medical Analytics) partly due to taking a couple of semesters of Oracle Database programming with Boston University 10 years ago.

cwan21
cwan21

If I've never had any experience in programming at all, do you think the Java certification or the Database certification would be easier/a better first foot into the tech world?

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