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The one constant in IT is that it’s constantly evolving. New technologies and their associated certifications being constantly rolled out so how can you keep up? You can’t possibly pursue all IT certifications, so which ones should you choose? This checklist will simplify your certification process and ensure your engineers are at the top of their game!
As a service provider, MSPs must stay current with technology, security, and service delivery that meets the demands of your customers. One of the key ways to accomplish this is to get your engineering team certified. There are literally hundreds of certifications available to your team. So, the question becomes, which certifications will make you the most competitive, current, and able to meet customer needs? There are two ways to answer this:
- The certifications you need your team to have based on the services you currently deliver.
- The certifications the industry is demanding which points you in the direction of what services you should be offering.
As someone who wants your business to be successful, I want to ensure you’re moving with the times. So, I’m going to focus on the latter of the two, in order to position your business to be ready to meet the needs of its clients. You definitely need to think about this from the perspective that I’m not advocating that you abandon all the services you’ve built and just move to some new services because a certification says so; I’m simply pointing out that the industry is moving, and you need to be right there with it. As you’ll see, many of these certifications already fit into your services wheelhouse, with a few pushing you forward.
The 6 Most Important IT Certifications Topics for MSP Engineers
According to CIO Magazine, the most valuable certifications today (again, which align with services demand) fall into six distinct service areas:
A top priority for any size customer organization is security. Most MSPs are looking for ways to offer security-related services – up to, and including, transitioning to an MSSP. A few specific security-focused certifications are in demand; 3 from ISACA and one from ISC2 – both well-respected IT-centric organizations that seek to improve the quality of the delivery of IT services. ISACA’s certification includes Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA). ISC2 offers the well-known Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Those customers looking to shift their operations to the cloud are looking for partners who not only understand how to administer cloud-based environments but also have staff that has expertise in designing custom cloud solutions
IT certifications such as Amazon’s newly released AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate is in high demand due to the success of AWS. And, for those service providers focused on Azure, Microsoft also offers several technical and solutions-focused certifications for Azure.
You already likely have your customers running much of their infrastructure and critical systems virtually. Having a certified team member that fully understands the architecting and management of virtual environments will help both on-prem and as you move customers to the cloud.
Both Citrix and VMware certifications are in demand. Citrix’s Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V) and Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V), along with VMware’s VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV) round out the list.
The foundation of the environments you manage is the network itself. Existing both physically and virtually today, it’s necessary to have staff who understand both fully.
While nearly any networking-related certifications are certainly helpful to get the job done, those in highest demand include the Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching and Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N).
5) Project Management
It’s not all about keeping technology running; many of your one-off projects require a significant amount of planning, tracking, and management.
That’s why one of the most in-demand areas of certification include those demonstrating a mastery of project management. The Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) and CompTIA’s Project + certifications provide the skills needed to see projects are properly managed.
6) Service Management
Most of your engineering team is heads-down putting out fires. They’re thinking solely about the here and now. But it’s important to have at least one member of the team who is thinking about the service lifecycle, helping to mature your offerings.
The ITIL v3 Foundation certification focuses on the ITIL service lifecycle, the ITIL phase interactions, and outcomes, as well as IT service management processes and best practices.
The first four service areas are likely very familiar to you already, with the last two being, perhaps, a bit foreign. Regardless, these IT certifications areas (as well as some of the specific IT certifications mentioned) represent the knowledge needed to properly service MSP customer needs.
Take a look at the links above and begin a plan with your engineering team to get them certified. By doing so, you’ll have a stronger team that can take on bigger challenges, larger clients, and longer projects – all making your organization better positioned to grow. Training your employees is also a great way to foster trust and improve retention (however, make sure you still plan what to do if you lose a key engineer!)
What about your team? Are you following a certification path similar to this one? Are there other certifications you are pursuing outside of these for something more specific? What are they, and what is the reasoning? We’d love to hear! Let us know in the comments section below.
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