We’ve all heard the phrase “Knowledge is power,” and in the world of technology support professionals, this power often manifests itself in the form of IT certifications. These courses provide individuals with the necessary training to do their jobs more effectively, keep up with the ever-changing nature of technology and stay abreast of security considerations and other industry best practices. As a result, certifications are often critical to career advancement and can make all the difference for an entry-level support professional looking to distinguish themselves from the competition.

But with a wealth of certifications available, it can be difficult to know which ones are most likely to have the biggest impact on your career. To help answer this question, we asked our Bomgar Insiders for their must-have IT certifications. Read on for their top five recommendations and thoughts on why these courses are so impactful.

  1. Microsoft Certifications

 Microsoft Certifications were the overwhelming choice with 26% of our respondents recommending them. Of these, more than half pointed to a specific course including Microsoft Certified Solutions ExpertMTA IT and Microsoft Certified IT Professional.

 
“Microsoft certifications—any of them—are very viable to what we do.” – Brian Bard, UNCC
 
“Microsoft System Configuration Manager is the main app for our IT people to manage every station in the company.” – Ramon Hernandez, Roche

2.Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP was another popular certification, with nearly 10% of our respondents pointing to it as the most important training they’ve received. Granted by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, the CISSP provides training in critical areas including security and risk management, identify and access management, security operations and software development security.

“When an exam covers 10 domains of your field and has a fail rate of over 85%, you better know what you are talking about before you even attempt to take it.” – Chia Moua, Armstrong Flooring

“Security is of the utmost importance today.” –David Nicpan, Pulaski (AR) County Assessor

3.ITIL

ITIL, “the most widely accepted approach to IT service management in the world,” was recommended by more than 9% of IT professionals—and for good reason, according to their testimonials.

“I received my ITIL v3 certification and it opened the door to becoming our ITSM admin. It showed my management team that I was dedicated and qualified to lead our company down the path to a full blown ITSM solution and implementing it using best practices and defined standards.” – Ben Hughey, ABC Supply

“ITIL indicates you understand the IT business relationship and have a basic framework for management.” – Kent F., KS Technical Support  

4.Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

The CCNA certification was recommended by an additional 9% of respondents. With a range of courses covering cyber ops, collaboration, data center, security and other topics, IT professionals say these courses are critical for those utilizing Cisco products.

“Most IT management seems to like it.” – Randy Mettling, United Telecom

5.CompTIA A+

CompTIA A+ “validates understanding of the most common hardware and software technologies in business and certifies the skills necessary to support complex IT infrastructure.” Seven percent of our respondents believe it’s the certification that has most impacted their career. Many point to it as providing key foundational knowledge that provides the basis for subsequent training.

“CompTIA A+ has given me a better handle on managing my various projects at work.” –Jason Stallings, Nu Skin

Of course, there is no substitute for hands on experience and many of our respondents believe this is just as important as any industry certification.

“I look more so at real-world experience than classroom learning. My experience is that classroom learning makes you buzzword compliant but not necessarily skilled.” – Travis Gordon, University of Tennessee

“The most important IT certificate is OTJT—on the job training.” – Tracy Roberts, Luis Palau Association

While IT professionals differ on their recommendations for the most important IT certifications one thing is clear: working in the field means a commitment to lifelong learning and improvement. As technology continues to evolve, amassing knowledge—whether it be from an industry course or from personal experience—is critical not only for support professionals to get ahead, but also to keep their users productive and their organizations secure.