Helpful Certifications to Have for an IT Help Desk Job

By Tyler Regas

Sure, it’s good to have an education to get an IT help desk job, but it’s not bad to have one or more certifications. The following, most of which are CompTIA certifications, are very helpful to have in your personal toolbox. Most any self-respecting professional nerd will be able to answer most, if not all, of the questions on these exams, but it never hurts to have a few extra letters after your name when applying for a new position.

  • A+: CompTIA’s A+ certification is one of those certs that have been around for a very long time. The A+ has been around for so long that the current requirements bear almost no resemblance to those of a decade ago. While the A+ is supposed to be for IT professionals who have 500 or more hours of experience, the exam can be studied for and is comprised of two parts, Essentials and Practical Application.

    The A+ cert grants those who earn it credentials that indicate a wide-ranging awareness of both hardware and software concepts and practical applications of that knowledge in an entry-level IT setting.

  • NETWORK+: CompTIA’s Network+, or just Net+, is applied for those who can show competency in networking hardware and software. While it has a small amount of overlap from the concepts covered in A+, the Net+ cert is more specific to networking and associated concepts.

  • PROJECT+: CompTIA’s Project+ certification is earned through testing that shows that the test taker is familiar with the concepts and practical application of project management. This certification is not a complex one to earn, but it can be very helpful. While not entirely compatible with the blazingly hot Agile movement, all of the traditional concepts of project management are a huge help and can only improve your chances.

  • SERVER+: Similar to the A+ certification, the SERVER+ certification program validates the recipient has demonstrated compensated competency in hardware, software, operating systems, and technological concepts that relate to server operations.

  • Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP): Unlike the other individual certificates, the Microsoft Certified Professional is a group of certifications and an umbrella of support and services from Microsoft. Once you pass your first qualifying test (not all tests qualify, such as the Microsoft Technology Associate), you become a Certified Professional, but you are generally working toward building a portfolio of certifications for a specific discipline.

You can start with the Microsoft Technology Associate or move on directly to the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate exams for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Take a look at Windows 8 as an example. In order to pass and become certified for Windows 8, you’ll need Exam #687, Configuring Windows 8.1 and Exam #688, Supporting Windows 8.1.

Once you have an MCSA certification, you can more easily move on to a Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert, more commonly known as MCSE, and there are numerous paths in the MCSE to choose from.