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Tech employers commonly seek candidates with computer science certifications. Completing a credential relevant to your career goals can help you expand your knowledge, qualify for better opportunities, and negotiate for a higher starting salary.
According to a 2021 report from Skillsoft Global Knowledge that surveyed over 9,000 IT professionals globally, 92% held at least one certification. Learn about some of the most popular computer science certifications below.
What Are Computer Science Certifications?
Tech professionals earn computer science and IT certifications to demonstrate skills, knowledge, and areas of competency and/or expertise.
Unlike licenses, which the government may require for jobs in healthcare or education, certifications are voluntary. Certifications also differ from academic certificates — which educational institutions confer.
Professional organizations typically provide computer science certifications. To qualify for certification, applicants usually must meet education and experience prerequisites and pass an exam. The time it takes to earn a certification varies depending on the candidate's previous knowledge and whether they complete certification courses.
The tech industry prefers or requires certifications for some positions. Candidates can pursue various computer science certifications for different specializations and levels of experience.
Common Computer Science Certifications
Cisco Systems offers computer science training and certification programs that prepare candidates to work with Cisco products.
CCIE Data Center Certification
The CCIE data center certification demonstrates expert-level competency in data center automation. It prepares candidates for technical leadership positions at data centers. Applicants must pass core and lab exams.
Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) Certification
Cisco's CCDE certification demonstrates expertise in technology and business. This credential validates advanced knowledge of the science and art of enterprise network design. Each candidate must pass a qualifying exam and an eight-hour practical exam.
Cisco DevNet Professional
Cisco's DevNet Professional certification verifies that candidates hold the skills to develop and maintain applications on Cisco platforms. They can implement network applications and test and deploy automation. Each applicant must pass a core exam and a concentration exam.
Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA)
CompTIA offers many vendor-neutral computer science certifications, training, continuing education, and events.
The CompTIA A+ certification demonstrates competencies in hardware, operating systems, software troubleshooting, and mobile devices. Companies like Intel, HP, and Dell use A+ for critical entry-level IT support roles.
The CompTIA Security+ certification demonstrates competencies in skills necessary for IT security careers. Candidates learn about architecture and design, operations and incident response, and threats and vulnerabilities.
The CompTIA Network+ credential indicates expertise in networking fundamentals, network operations, and network troubleshooting.
The EC-Council offers professional certifications related to information security and e-business. Many of the credentials have global recognition and received endorsements from government agencies.
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
The EC-Council's vendor-neutral CEH certification demonstrates aptitude in thinking like a hacker to identify vulnerabilities and make computer systems more secure. Candidates must pass the four-hour, 125-question CEH exam.
Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
The EC-Council's CHFI vendor-neutral certification prepares applicants to become computer hacking forensic investigators. Candidates must pass the four-hour, 150-question exam EC0 312-49. Participants learn to investigate security threats and prevent future cyberattacks.
Microsoft offers many globally recognized computer science certifications that demonstrate technical skills using Microsoft products.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals
This certification demonstrates mastery of working with data in Azure, Microsoft's cloud computing platform. Candidates understand core concepts related to big data, relational and nonrelational data, and analytics. This certification is good for anyone beginning to work with Azure data services. Each applicant must pass the DP-900: Microsoft Azure Data Fundamentals.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Scientist Associate
This credential assesses skill in designing and preparing machine learning solutions, deploying and retraining models, and preparing models for deployment. Candidates must pass the Exam DP-100: Designing and Implementing a Data Science Solution on Azure.
Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Amazon Web Services offers more than 10 certifications that attest to cloud expertise and technical skills using AWS at different experience levels.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional
This professional-level certification demonstrates advanced skills in implementing cloud initiatives on Amazon Web Services. Candidates learn to optimize security, automate manual processes, and come up with complex solutions to complex problems. You must pass the 180-minute AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional exam (SAP-C02).
AWS Certified Developer - Associate
This associate-level credential indicates its holder's understanding of core AWS uses, services, and basic architecture. The certification also demonstrates skills in using AWS to debug, deploy, and develop cloud-based applications. Each candidate must pass a 130-minute, 65-question exam.
AWS Certified Machine Learning - Specialty
This AWS certification demonstrates that candidates can build, train, and deploy machine learning models. The credential requires passing the 65-question, 180-minute specialty exam.
Why Get a Computer Science Certification?
Earning computer science certifications can help computer science professionals improve their job prospects, expand their knowledge of the field, and pursue advancement opportunities. Although employers may not require certifications, they are very popular in the computer science field. Computer science professionals who do not hold certifications may miss out on career opportunities.
Which Computer Science Certification Should You Get?
When considering the right computer science certification, think about your career goals and the certifications that can best help you meet them. For example, if you work in information security, consider the EC-Council's CEH credential.
Factor in cost, time commitment, and whether you meet the required prerequisites. Do you have the minimum education level and/or work experience to apply? Sometimes it makes sense to pursue multiple certifications.
Consider where the certification is valid, as well. Some certifications have worldwide recognition, while others only apply to specific areas. Most certifications require renewal every few years by completing continuing education credits.
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More Questions About Computer Science Certifications
Which computer science certifications are the most popular?
Popular computer science certifications include the CompTIA A+, Cisco's CCDE, EC-Council's CEH, and AWS-certified solutions architect - professional. Popularity varies depending on specialization, employer, and field.
Do computer science majors need certifications?
While computer science majors can benefit from earning certifications, they are not an industry requirement. However, some employers and jobs require specific certifications. Look at job listings to develop a sense of the certifications companies prefer or require.
Which computer science certification is the hardest to get?
Some of the most difficult computer science certifications to earn include Cisco's certified internetwork expert certifications and the (ISC)² certified information systems security professional credential.
Do computer science certifications help you get a job?
Yes — computer science certifications can help you get a job. They do not guarantee any job but can help you differentiate yourself from other applicants. Earning a certification demonstrates to potential employers that you possess the necessary skills and knowledge for the job.
Page last reviewed on Dec 1, 2022
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