In this increasingly digital world, Information Technology careers have expanded and blossomed to suit nearly everyone’s skill sets. One such lucrative career is IT Management.

IT Managers earn an average of $91,000 a year. This salary bracket can actually range from $21,000 to $180,000 annually, depending on the industry of the IT Manager. In each case, though, the job entails problem-solving and project management.

Specifically, an IT Manager position has the following job description:

  • Analyze, plan, and design the company’s information system needs and execute such plans and designs.
  • Monitor and improve such a system (which may also include the company’s full telecommunications infrastructure) and recommend any upgrades required to its top management.
  • Manage the company’s IT policies, including information policy, data/information access, and regulatory compliance.
  • Hire and lead system administrators and other personnel who will be part of their team.
  • Identify the training needs of the team and be able to arrange for such training and measure the benefits.

The first three above, as you will see, require the IT Manager to be astute in the technical aspects of the job. In particular, they must be competent in network-related areas. They should master these skills if they want to reach the higher tier of the salary scale.

Luckily, there are many training programs designed for IT Management professionals. These aren’t just regular training programs but fully-fledged certification courses. What follows are some of the top programs.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) course is probably the most widely respected certification out there for IT professionals. It is an intermediate-level certification course. A CCNA holder has high competence in configuring, operating, and troubleshooting routed networks.

To get this certification, you must take and pass the CCNA 200-301 examination, which deals with fundamentals on network security, internet protocols, automation, and other security-related skills.

The exam is composed of 120 questions where each question has an associated score. To pass the exam, you must have a score of at least 800 (the highest attainable is 1,000). The cost for this exam is $300.

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

Whereas CCNA covers the basic to intermediate skill level, the Cisco Certified Network Professional certification is for those who want to achieve a higher level of certification.

Unlike the CCNA, which requires the candidate to pass one exam, CCNP certification requires two exams: a core exam, covering fundamental networking concepts, and a concentration exam in any one area of intended focus (network design, automation, and so on).

It’s best to get a CCNP certificate after at least three years of experience in this industry. You don't need to take the CCNA before the CCNP examination. The costs for CCNP examinations range anywhere from $900 to $1,200.

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

SASE is a new technology (as described in Gartner’s “The Future of Network Security is in the Cloud”). This architecture integrates Wide Area Network (WAN) and some native security protocols of the cloud.

Cato Networks is a company that offers a cloud-based SASE platform, and they also offer a certification course for SASE so you can get familiarized with this new technology.

For this particular architecture, the center of a company’s network access is its physical data centers. For SASE, that center transfers over to the cloud.

In a nutshell, SASE makes it more efficient for IT Managers to administer the network as it removes some of the complexities associated with traditional physical data center setup.

To get a SASE certification, you need to take the SASE Expert Level 1 course and pass the associated examination (minimum score must be 85%).

CompTIA cloud+

CompTIA’s cloud+ certifications are for those who want to validate their system administration, cloud services maintenance, and other network-related knowledge and skills.

Currently, there are two such exams you can take to get a certification.

The CV0-002 (launched in February of 2018) is designed for candidates whose tasks include integrating various solutions into a business-specific system. It has 90 questions max and can be taken in 90 minutes. The passing score (from 100 to 900) is 750. The cost to take this exam is $329.

The CV0-003 (still in beta mode) is designed to get the candidate vendor-agnostic in creating solutions for their organizations. It has 110 questions that can be answered in 165 minutes. At the moment, there isn’t any finalized passing mark, and since it’s in beta, the cost to take this particular certification is just $50.

In both cases, it is recommended that the candidate has at least two years of experience.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification is geared for professionals who design network architecture involving AWS. It requires that the candidate has at least two years of experience in operating and administering AWS applications.

It is one of the more sought-after certifications, as Amazon is the top vendor for cloud computing services. Hence, more and more organizations hire professionals that can navigate through this infrastructure.

With a price tag of $300 to take the exam, you should prepare for it thoroughly. The great thing is Amazon provides some preparatory materials for those interested in acquiring this prized certification. And so does freeCodeCamp.

Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment

As Salesforce is a key enterprise CRM solution, organizations often count on this SaaS platform to manage their relationship with customers as well as provide centralized access for related departments.

This exam also has a hefty price tag - $400. The exam itself has 60 multiple choice questions and requires the candidate to answer at least 60% of them correctly. Those failing the exam are allowed to retake it for a $200 fee.

In conclusion

These certifications are by no means the only ones that can enhance an IT Manager’s skills (and hence, career prospects). There are also others related to project management.

What is important to note here is that in the ever-changing technology landscape, it’s always essential to put yourself into continuous learning mode.