Global Perspective: Seven Certs to Shoot For

Editor's Note: Though based in the United States, GoCertify works with writers from around the globe and occasionally publishes articles from different corners of the global IT realm.


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The IT market in Egypt is very competitive, and it is evolving very fast. Many large IT companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, EMC and IBM have offices in Egypt. And at the same time, there are many IT professionals in the market. Earning IT certifications is one way to stay ahead of other professionals. Besides the skills and expertise gained during the certification journey, IT certifications increase the chance of any job candidate to at least get a job interview — and the positive impact could go far beyond that.


It's always worth it to invest in your career by earning IT certifications. But what are the right IT certifications to acquire if you want to compete as a professional in the Egyptian IT market? This list of the seven top IT certifications for 2015 in Egypt is based on interviews with IT managers in different areas of the IT market space. Each of these IT certifications is expected to maintain its market value in 2015.


Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)


Cisco CCIE is one of the most prestigious networking certifications in the world. It's an expert level cert achieved by highly skilled networking experts. This credential is not easy to achieve, and is time intensive. It takes between six months and two years of hard work to complete, depending on the candidate's skill, time, resources and capabilities.


In addition to the comprehensive written exam, a CCIE candidate is required to pass a stressful lab exam. Networking professionals often take aim at CCIE because of its rewards: prestige, recognition, knowledge and — most importantly — better compensation. CCIE engineers are hired by Cisco Partners at high salary rates because the hiring increase the company's technical profile as well as providing access to competitive prices on devices purchased from Cisco. It's a win-win situation. Service providers and customers also hire CCIE engineers for their proven expert skills.


Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)


CISSP is an information security cert governed by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortiumm, more commonly known as (ISC)2. CISSP is coveted by IT security managers because of its high-level coverage of overall information security concepts. It requires the candidate to have a minimum of five years of direct full-time security work experience in two or more of the 10 (ISC)2 information security domains. The certification is vendor neutral and covers security concepts across all 10 (ISC)2 domains, right down to physical security. With the recent exploding rate of cybercrime, CISSP professionals are hired to develop security policies, procedures and guidelines to protect their organization's information systems.


Project Management Professional (PMP)


PMP is a professional certification in project management which is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). PMP has proven to be the most valuable and recognized project management certification. The cert derives its importance from the pivotal role of project management in all IT operations across recent decades. The PMP certification covers five areas related to the lifecycle of a project: initiating; planning; executing; monitoring and controlling; and closing. PMP is vendor neutral, and its principles can be applied to managing any kind of project.


You rarely see a project manager job announcement these days that doesn't include PMP certification as at least a desired qualification. Earning PMP requires a considerable investment of time and money, but it can certainly set your apart from candidates who don't have it.


VMware Certified Professional (VCP) – Datacenter Virtualization


With the increased adoption of virtualization technologies in datacenters, it should be no surprise to find a virtualization certification in this list. With VMware's domination of the global virtualization market, its certification programs are considered to be the top choice for IT professionals seeking to prove their knowledge of virtualization technologies. Of VMware's many certs, VMware Certified Professional (VCP) – Datacenter Virtualization is its most successful and long-running.


This VCP – Datacenter Virtualization exam validates the candidate's ability to install, deploy, scale and manage VMware vSphere environments. Although it's an entry-level cert, it contains comprehensive information about virtualization technology and VMware solutions. The datacenter track is the most popular one among VMware professional-level tracks and you're likely to find it in most virtualization-related job announcements. Many large enterprises in Egypt already deploy VMware solutions. Hence, VCP – Datacenter Virtualization is very attractive for IT professionals, and should continue to be so in the future.


Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (MCSE)


MCSE is an expert-level technical cert achieved by professionals who work as system administrators managing Microsoft solutions. The certificate gains its popularity from the popularity of Microsoft products in Egypt. You will rarely have the chance to work for an IT organization that doesn't deploy any Microsoft products in their IT system. The MCSE has nine different tracks covering Microsoft products: Server Infrastructure, Desktop Infrastructure, Private Cloud, Enterprise Devices and Apps, Data Platform, Business Intelligence, Messaging, Communication and Sharepoint. The MCSE is valuable for both the employer and the credential holder, as it also allows the holder special access to information through Microsoft.


Most probably you will find MCSE as a desired qualification for jobs with title of "Technical Support Engineer," "System Administrator," "Network Administrator," "System Analyst," and so forth. With the large number of system administration engineers in Egypt, it's valuable to add MCSE certificate to your list of skills.


Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) – Database Administrator


With the rising demand for skilled Oracle professionals in the IT market in Egypt, Oracle Certified Professional is currently one of the top certs. This certification validates the professional's capability to install, manage and develop Oracle database systems in an enterprise environment. It's a comprehensive program in the database field and, although it's vendor-specific, it includes a lot of useful information about database systems in general. The certificate has a pre-requisite to achieve the associate level cert, as well as completing an approved training course. The exam has different versions matching the version of Oracle database. It's usually a good option to go for the latest version, so as to be current with the latest technology, if this is your first certification at the professional level. It's also recommended for candidates holding older versions to start thinking about upgrades to the current version.


Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)


CISA is an information security credential that is issued by ISACA (formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association). It exposes IT information security professionals to standards of audit, control, assessment and security of IT information systems. CISA professionals are hired by organizations in the areas of IT security management, IT audit, IT governance, IT risk management and quality assurance. They use their skills to ensure compliance with standards, manage IT system vulnerabilities, and propose processes and controls to companies' existing polices and controlling measures.


Many organizations conduct information security assessment either internally, by appointing internal security professionals, or externally by appointing information security auditors. Consultancy companies working in the IT field will surely like to see these four letters in your resume. And I'm sure you'll like it as well, if you are seeking to join one of these companies.


Final Thoughts


Technical certifications are important for professionals in any IT market. At a minimum, certs will get your foot in the door, which is a good start in a highly competitive market. They also show your level of professional commitment, and allow employers a presumption of your technical expertise. At the same time, however, your focus during your certification journey should be on the knowledge you gain, rather than how the cert will look on your resume. A good breadth of knowledge is what will really help you, both in job interviews and in your career.


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About the Author
Ahmed Badr

Ahmed Badr is a network consultant with more than 10 years of experience designing, implementing and operating large scale network infrastructures. He holds a BSc in Communications and one in Electronics Engineering, and a Master of Business Administration. He also holds a CCIE certificate in Routing and Switching since 2008. Ahmed can be contacted at: