These Rock-Solid Certifications Will Keep On Keeping On in 2016

In the book publishing industry an "evergreen" title is one that never goes out of print. About five years ago, I got started tracking IT certification programs and credentials for Tom's IT Pro, and we capped off the first year's round of efforts with our picks for the best of the best, labeling them Evergreen IT Certifications (2011).


Since that time, we've updated that story on a more-or-less yearly basis. Which is why I find myself presently involved in poring over the most recent list and considering the status of each credential as 2016 approaches. (We haven't nailed everything down, but expect to see the latest rundown pop up at Tom's IT Pro sometime before the end of December.)


What's interesting about these particular deliberations is trying to determine what is unique about the slate of certs that make it onto that evergreen list. What keeps them (and us, as IT pros) coming back for more, year after year. (Not surprisingly, the list we're about to publish has changed very little from the one that appeared at the end of 2014. Most of the changes are minor tweaks, to make note of version- or release-related updates that have occurred in the interim.) For your consideration (and mine):


? Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE)
? Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
? Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
? CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+
? ITIL Service Management Foundation
? Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
? Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
? VMware Certified Professional (VCP)


What makes these certifications evergreen, in my opinion? A combination of most or all of the following characteristics:


? Strong name and brand recognition
? High demand for certified professionals, including bumps in pay and status for some (the more senior the cert, the higher the bump)
? Checkbox-level demand for entry-level items (CCNA, CompTIA, perhaps also MCSA)
? Strong technical and/or professional interest from aspiring and practicing IT professionals
? For multi-pronged certs on the list (CCIE, CCNA, MCSE, MCSA, VCP), lots of interesting flavors or options from which to choose


As I've tracked the buzz and stated demand for qualified IT professionals across a broad range of specialties, pay and job opportunities, these certs have kept coming up again and again over the years. Nearly this entire slate has been fairly static for two or three years now, and I don't see that changing any time soon, except perhaps to add a Big Data or Data Science cert to this list, should a "big winner" in this still crowded and chaotic certification sector emerge in the near future.


If you're thinking about acquiring one or more certs to help boost your IT career, it's the season to think evergreen anyway, so why not consider one of these? See a favorite, or have some other "definite evergreen" I may not have included here? Contact me to share your thoughts and opinions. I'm always open to reader input. Thanks, and happy holidays!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.