IT certification

Computing Degree or IT Certification?

Computing Degree or IT Certification? 150 150 Kerry Butters

It’s a hotly debated topic on IT forums; whether a degree is necessary to work in IT, or if you only need the correct certifications. Certainly all you need to technically do a job is the correct certifications and an understanding of any programs and work that might relate to your field. However, many employers are looking for more than just the ability to do the job.

The choice is partially financial. If you can afford to do a full time degree program, then it’s probably advisable, as a degree gives you a qualification that benchmarks salary and increases your earning potential as you go through life. There are also a lot of benefits to being in an academic environment for that long a time.

You’ll not only learn about your subject, but you will be given the chance to explore other talents that may be useful to you in the future. University is also often the place you make your first business contacts. Many people get their first jobs, or further business, through these contacts, and they can’t be underestimated. Beyond that, the academic experience is a formative one, and many emerge from university more rounded and mature as a result of their experiences there.

If you can’t afford a degree, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with an IT certification, and it will undoubtedly help you get a job as they tend to be recognised worldwide. But it would be worth considering either going back to school or studying part time once you have some more money and stability, for the reasons stated above. A degree just gives you bullets in your gun when it comes to negotiating your salary, and also broadens your contact list beyond that which you may have accumulated gaining your certification.

Improving Employability

There are a lot of reports online talking about degree vs certification that emphasise the ‘other skills’ which university and the process of getting a degree gives you that you might otherwise miss out on if you don’t go to university. However, none of them really list what those skills are, or how to go about developing them, so here’s a quick hotlist of skills you should get some practice with/develop so that you can bring them in in your CV and during interview.

People Skills  

While studying for a degree you meet all sorts of people. You’re not going to like all of them, but it’s important to still be able to work with and get along with them. This is an essential skill in the workplace, so employers will want to see that you can integrate into a working environment without being a disruption or source of displeasure to your workmates. There are all sorts of ways you can show that you have good people skills, volunteering at different events, or even taking a part time job can often be enough. Joining a sports team can also be a good option if you’re that way inclined, especially because it highlights another skill that employers are on the lookout for, team skills.


IT departments are often made up of multiple people, so it’s important to show that you can not only take your place within a team, but also that you can step up to lead it if necessary. Universities often implement this with group work, but it’s no replacement for practical experience and is something you should play up if it’s a strength.

Organisation and Reliability

Hitting deadlines is a big part of university life, and your ability to hit those deadlines shows that you can be relied on to complete a project on schedule. Employers don’t want to be the first people to give you a chance to hit a deadline, so make sure they know that you’re a proven quantity. A good way to do this is to get involved with community IT or computing projects. These projects are often casually run, but still provide you with deadlines to hit and gain experience working towards.


This isn’t a skill per-se, but it is something that people get out of a long spell at university. However, it’s by no means the only way to build connections. If you’re currently working, be friendly, get to know the people in power that are working in the sectors you’re interested in. Ask your friends and family if they know anyone in IT whose brains you can pick for half an hour or check in with every other month.

Make yourself known to those people you think might be important in the future, and keep the conversations going. In this age of social media, particularly Twitter and LinkedIn, it’s very easy to keep in touch without appearing invasive or clingy, and those connections may prove to be of tremendous use when applying for a job or during an interview.

Stay Busy

As you work towards your certifications, make sure that you’re keeping yourself busy. You want your CV to have a clear timeline that potential employers can track. If there’s a year gap in there, they’re going to ask what you were up to, and you should have a good answer ready. If you have a degree, ‘I was at university’ is enough, but if you don’t, you want to show that you were keeping yourself busy. Often this question is a great opportunity for you to bring up any of the previous skills mentioned above.

It’s Up To You

Realistically, both paths offer keen workers a route to employment, but degree qualifications offer job and wage security which certifications often don’t. In the long run, workers should look to get a degree for themselves, but nobody with a certification should feel like they are second-string to graduates. Certifications in the IT world are generally vendor-related (think Microsoft, Cisco, CompTIA, for example) and so have a lot to offer as far as respected qualifications go. As long as you demonstrate the skills mentioned above, you should find yourself competing with graduates for the job you want, and hopefully win out as a result.

Image: Computer Training Centres

A Guide to CompTIA Certifications

A Guide to CompTIA Certifications 150 150 Kerry Butters

In the online world it’s important to be known for your skillset. There are always going to be numerous competitor businesses doing the same job as you are. But the difficulty that consumers face is picking the right business, or even the best individual, to fulfill their needs. That’s why there are often plenty of different types of certified qualifications that a business can achieve to mark them out as qualified and good at what they do.

CompTIA is one of those qualifications and the certification demonstrates that an individual has a solid grasp on various aspects of the computing industry. There are many different potential accreditation types within CompTIA’s library. One such option is in the cloud computing industry. This means that someone certified by CompTIA has a business and technical perspective on cloud models and infrastructure, as well as a good knowledge of what is involved in moving a business infrastructure to the cloud.

So, CompTIA is a tool of validation and it allows customers the understanding that your business is well-trained, forward thinking, and a viable candidate in the crowded online marketplace.

Let’s have a look then at what a CompTIA Cloud Essentials exam covers.

CompTIA Cloud Essentials and its exam requirements

An individual studying for a cloud CompTIA exam has to cover these areas to ensure that they have no gaps in their knowledge on the subject. Namely:

·         A business perspective on cloud characteristics

·         Knowledge of the application and value to a business of cloud computing

·         Cloud types, and technical understanding of how they work

·         Steps to successful adoption

·         How cloud adoption impacts IT service management

·         Risks and consequences of cloud adoption

The CompTIA certificate provides a wide range of both general and specific knowledge on cloud computing services. The course was initially developed by ITpreneurs in cooperation with the Cloud Credential Council. This membership body is dedicated to vendor-neutral training in cloud computing and compromises of several well known technology companies – IBM, Cisco, EMC, HP, and ING.

This certificate then has some cache amongst those already in the know so if you see the CompTIA certificate you can rest assured that the business in question has a good knowledge of cloud computing services and options. Any candidate undertaking the exam and course in general should have at least six months experience (although not required) in an environment that markets or relies on IT-related services.

Examination details

The test doesn’t last too long and students have 60 minutes to answer 50 questions. A user must have a minimum score of 720 to pass and the test can be taken in three languages: English, Japanese, and Portuguese.

CompTIA A+ Certification

The CompTIA stamp is an umbrella under which sits a wide variety of qualifications. Another one to consider is the CompTIA A+ certificate. This one covers IT related information and is not specific to the cloud. Simply put, this accreditation is for individuals wishing to start a career in IT and the exam covers maintenance of PCs, mobile devices, laptops, operating systems and printers.

This qualification ensures that a business has staff that understands and can maintain the day-to-day workings of the company’s computer systems. Individuals with this certificate can keep important devices healthy and ensure a well-oiled working environment for staff in general.

The CompTIA A+ certificate is required for:

·         Dell, Intel, and Lenovo service techs

·         Recognised by the US Department of Defense

The certificate has already seen widespread adoption and is currently held by over 900,000 IT professionals. Once more, it’s a vendor-neutral qualification and any customer on a business’ website can use it as a good rule of thumb in terms of how good (and valid) that business is.

Currently there are a number of jobs that use the CompTIA A+ certification:

·         Technical support specialist

·         Field service technician

·         IT support technician

·         IT support administrator

·         IT support specialist

The CompTIA A+ certification is assessed by two exams and both must be passed. The first exam, CompTIA A+ 220-801, covers the essentials of computer technology, its installation, and configuration of PCs, laptops, related hardware, and basic networking.

The second exam, CompTIA A+ 220-801 covers the necessary skills required to install and configure PC operating systems. Individuals that pass this exam will also be able to configure common features such as network connectivity and email across a number of mobile operating systems including Android and Apple iOS.

Any CompTIA certificate is valid for three years and individuals that wish to remain up-to-date can do so through the Continuing Education Program.

Stay relevant

The Continuing Education Program exists because the technology world is an ever-changing one. In this evolving world it’s important for IT professionals to show employers that their skills, knowledge and credentials are current with industry developments. It also shows potential customers that a service is not only good but also accredited and validated by an external body.

CompTIA is effectively a trade type validation of an individual’s ability to work in the computer industries. A business that has staff accredited via CompTIA is marked out from its competitors that doesn’t. CompTIA has considerable cache and customers should view this certification as a stamp of approval. These are just a couple of the certifications that can be obtained with CompTIA, it’s also possible to gain certification in networks, Linux, mobility and much more.

What’s more, the qualifications are well-recognised in the IT industry and even those going for a basic IT technician assistant will be well-placed to get the job if they gain the certification first.

Graduate IT Jobs: What’s the Best Fit for You?

Graduate IT Jobs: What’s the Best Fit for You? 150 150 Kerry Butters

If you’re graduating this summer and looking to land the perfect job in IT, then it can be difficult to know which sector might be the best fit. This is because there are a very wide and varied range of industries that demand IT workers, far beyond the usual suspects such as vendors and big-name tech companies.

It’s likely that you’ll be attending a good few graduate fairs, where many companies are likely to be looking for the most talented candidates. So what can you do to ensure that you stand out from the crowd? It might be a fact that IT is one of those sectors that has been and still is suffering from a lack of incoming talent, but in the UK, with the curriculum changing to accommodate better IT learning, this is something that could very well change in the next five years or so.

To recruiters, it certainly looks better if you can demonstrate that you’ve explored all avenues, so with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the potential jobs out there that you could land.

Look Beyond the ‘Norm’

As well as the more obvious recruiters that will be doing the rounds at graduate fairs, you should look into other industries that provide IT jobs but are not necessarily in the technology sector.

These include:

·         Investment banks

·         Large retailers

·         Insurance firms

·         Accountants

·         Educational institutions

All of these industries need an IT department and for some, now is the time when they will be investing heavily in technologies such as the cloud and ecommerce. Likewise, there always seems to be a job going at a school or college whenever I check out my local paper for IT support assistants, or network managers, or even for communications which can include maintaining the school website, creating presentations, maintaining databases and so on.

Becoming a Computer Science Teacher

Of course, when it comes to schools, you can also further your education that little bit more and apply to be a Computer Science teacher. The curriculum is chosen somewhat by the teacher, so you have an opportunity to shape the next generation, which can be very rewarding.

You will need GCSEs in the usual subjects, such as English and Maths at a minimum of Grade C and a Computer Science degree. However, if you’re a mature student and can demonstrate a good level of professional experience in the technology sector, then you may be accepted onto a course.

Computing ITT applicants are also eligible for a tax-free bursary of up to £20,000 for postgraduate training, so it’s worth checking it out.

See the video below too for more information on the new curriculum due to come into play this September.

Consider Options Carefully

For young people, it’s often very difficult to know what direction to take when it comes to deciding what career path to choose, so you should consider your options carefully. Think about what modules you’ve really enjoyed during your degree. If you loved coding, then you’ll be a great fit for software, web or app development. I’ve left out games development here as it’s a field that many young people want to get into, but is a difficult one to break into.

I’ve heard so many young people say their dream job is to be a games dev, but when it comes to the crunch, they don’t enjoy it, or lack the skills required when it comes to coding. Yes, making PC and console games sounds like great fun, but you still have to have the ability and the talent.

Software development in general means being office based and often quite isolated as it requires you to apply a reasonably high level of concentration. It’s not just games companies that offer development jobs either, there are plenty of large companies that develop their own software, as well as smaller, niche businesses that offer bespoke software to certain industries.

Think About Postgraduate Education

You can of course choose to go down the route of taking a Masters degree, but you can also think about IT certification. This tends to be expensive, but so does taking an MA and there’s no reason you couldn’t still get a career development loan, although you should check that the provider is on the eligibility list before you apply.

Many of the major IT companies offer certification, such as:

·         Microsoft

·         Cisco

·         CompTIA

And many more. Professional certifications are often given more weight by IT employers, as faith in graduates is not as its optimum level right now, probably because of the lack of decent courses that have been available in the past. However, this is something that is changing and it’s worth chatting with recruiters at graduate fairs to find out if they like certified candidates and if so, which certifications they prefer.

Keep an Open Mind

Technology is such a huge part of our lives these days that there’s a demand for it in virtually every sector. With this in mind, whilst you might have had an idea floating around in your head about rising to the top of Microsoft in the next couple of years, be realistic and realise that opportunities exist everywhere.

Be inquisitive and do your homework before the recruiters talk to you and there’s a very good chance that you’ll impress somebody enough for them to make you an offer. You may have been thinking games and end up getting supermarket, but you’re just starting out on your exciting new career and so need to keep your options open.

Having said that, there’s certainly nothing wrong with being ambitious, so if you feel that you’ve got what it takes to work for a big company that you have your eye on, making some serious cash, then what have you got to lose but a no? And those, at this stage of your life, mean very little.

Who knows, you could very well be the next Steve Jobs…

How to Land the Perfect IT Job

How to Land the Perfect IT Job Simon Randall


IT is a large and multi-faceted industry and it can be hard to find a job within it. IT covers everything from design and development through to the management of computer software, hardware, and networks. Within IT there are several management positions that don’t require technical skills, but instead requires business acumen. IT, like most industries, needs people who can communicate effectively with customers, suppliers, and colleagues.

So if you are considering a job in this sector let’s firstly look at the qualifications needed.

For specific jobs in areas such as programming, network support, technical support, database administration, computer and network security, and website development, you will need certified technical skills. These are worth considering and these skills will certainly not hamper your chances of getting a job in IT, so if you don’t currently have them it’s perhaps time that you looked into getting them.

The best certification programs can be expensive but are recognised throughout the industry and the world; these include:

Microsoft certifications

There are a range of these and they can cover anything from system/network engineering to Office product certification. For a brochure on all of the qualifications covered in the Microsoft Certification program, click here.

CompTIA certification

This is a vendor-neutral certification program which again covers most aspects of IT and has been updated to include modern technologies such as the cloud. The most basic is the A+ certification, which is one that covers the basics of computer hardware, troubleshooting, repairing and so on.

Cisco certification

Cisco offers five levels of certification and all of these concentrate on networks, whilst the other two also offer application and security certifications, for example. Again, Cisco is a world leader when it comes to IT training and so holding a qualification from them, or any of the above, will stand you in good stead when it comes to landing your dream job in tech.

There are many other routes you can take to ensure that the certification you gain is right for your career, so make sure you do your research before embarking on any courses.

IT Management Roles

For more management based roles including IT, applications development, customer relationship, e-commerce, operations, web and portal development management, and even chief executive of an IT company, technical skills may not be necessary. It’s worth noting though that for many of the job titles mentioned, you would need to have communication and business skills, often obtained from a university. In some cases employers will give you the required training for a specific job role but this is not always likely.

If you are considering a job in the IT and electronic services industry you will need a minimum of a GCSE in IT, a foundation or an advanced modern apprenticeship, A-level or equivalent in computer studies and perhaps even a university degree in a related subject. It all depends on the job that you are applying for.

There are higher echelons in the IT world and if you want to get a job in that area you’ll need a higher degree or a professional qualification such as those mentioned above or from the British Computer Society or the Institute for the Management of Information Systems.

Other IT Skills Needed

So you’re well qualified and you have the experience needed to work in the IT sector, but what other skills are needed to help you stand out?

According to Andy Waite, a senior Windows/Application support engineer: “The qualifications you need vary. These days there is a split in the larger enterprises between IT service delivery and more technically focused (sic) streams. Therefore while industry-recognised qualifications like ITIL and Prince2 are sought in the service delivery and project management space, technical qualifications like MCTS/MCITP (Microsoft) and CCIE (Cisco) are desirable in technical roles. Most importantly there is no substitute for experience though, and knowledge of the industry you want work in is an essential part as well.”

Waite further suggests that soft skills matter just as much: “A customer face, business understanding and an ability to communicate technical concepts are all as important as understanding and applying technology. You also need to remember to keep your skill set broad and current, so investing in your ongoing development is essential.”

Even if you’re not currently working in IT but feel that changing to this sector may benefit your career, Waite offers this advice: “From my own experience, an academic course – in my case a BTEC higher national certificate – was an essential way to show my then employer I was serious about changing the course of my career. Additionally, industry-recognised accreditations are useful to help you enter the industry.”

How to Get the Perfect IT Job For You

We’ve now considered the qualifications needed for an IT career and if you fit into this category well, it’s time to start looking for a job. The first things to remember is that you are your most effective marketing tool. Competition in every job sector is fierce these days, so in order to edge out the competition it’s important to brand yourself successfully. Think of yourself as a brand identity and outline your key attributes and how they can be applied to a specific audience.

If you can successfully see yourself as a brand it not only helps to stress your positive traits but it also ensures that you’re the one in control of your image. Here are some quick tips to help you market yourself better and stand a better chance of getting that job.

·         Working brands – Think of some of your favourite brands and figure out what makes those identities so unique. Successful brands have a clear message and a strong USP. Figure out yours

·         Discover your brand – What makes you unique? Answer that question as honestly as you can and really emphasise your strong points, try and describe yourself in five words or less. Then write down how others, friends, family or colleagues, would define you. Compare those different pieces of writing and figure out what agrees and what doesn’t

·         You’re unique – But why? What makes you stand out from everyone else? Make a not of what makes you unique and don’t worry about championing yourself – just be honest

·         Your best – Recall some moments when you were working at your best and write them down. Then really analyse why you were at your best. This can provide huge insight into what you’re good at and what makes you unique

The economic climate is pretty unpleasant at the moment and it can be hard to find a job interview, let alone employment. However if you tailor your CV, define who you are and what makes you different from everyone else you should be well on your way to gainful employment.

As an IT professional it’s worth remembering that it’s a huge industry with a wide variety of job types and roles. Figure out which one you are best suited to and which ones your qualifications and education best applies to. Then give it a go. Remember some always has to get the job, why can’t it be you?

Are you looking for a role in IT? At Quadratek People, we match candidates with employers who trust our expertise in finding the best person for the job. Get in touch today to see how we can help you to land your ideal job in IT. Even if you’re just looking for a short-term contract to fill a void, we can help.

Image: Robert S Donovan