Getting certified in I.T. can be daunting. There are so many ways to get certified, from traditional University study, Further Education colleges, and independent online course providers filling many individuals with confusion as to whether they have picked the right course and learning path for them. Learning is demanding – both in terms of time, commitment, and often also finances. With some professional courses and certifications costing thousands of pounds at a time, how do you know that you are making the right investment?
The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way of getting certified, and all certifications will help you progress throughout your career, no matter whether they are based online or not. Some people may be well suited for a full time university course, whilst others may have commitments that take up too much of their time, meaning online education may be more suitable for them. The fantastic thing about I.T. is that it is the perfect field for online learning as people and organisations who are delivering these courses are I.T. experts meaning they know exactly how to deliver information online.
Are online certifications just as good?
People can often be doubtful in regards to the quality of online education. Many of us have been taught that to get well educated and certified in a specific field you need to dedicate months, or years of your life to study a subject comprehensively to be able to utilise it professionally. This could not be further away from the truth – of course to become an expert within a field can often take years of learning and development, but getting certified for an entry level position is a different story.
Online certifications tend to be a lot more condensed, hence the shorter duration. You may find that to get a comprehensive knowledge within the I.T. area of your choice you may need to complete a couple of courses to improve your employability – however, you can usually do those in your own time, whilst saving a considerable amount of money, which is what makes learning online admirable for so many people.
Online education can vary in quality, just as traditional University and FE colleges. It’s important to do appropriate research before signing up for a course, to make sure the learning outcomes align with your aspirations, and that the overall quality of learning resources is up to your standards. Many online courses will follow a similar pattern to traditional face-to-face learning, but expect you to take extra time out of your day to further research ideas or apply your newly learned knowledge in order to make it stick.
You may be surprised to find that certain online courses may simply be more concise, and straight to the point – teaching you directly the skills you need with no unnecessary jargon or generic knowledge. Many online l.T. courses are put together by leading I.T. organisations such as Google, IBM or Microsoft, providing practical tutorials on how to use their software packages and perform specific tasks which is something that is commonly overlooked in university education and has to be learned on the job through a gap year placement or graduate programme.
Benefits of online I.T certifications
There are multiple benefits to online study, with one of the more prominent ones being affordability and flexibility. If you find that you do not have the time to take up full time study during the day, an online course that enables you to study at your own pace might be perfect for you. Many online courses are also reasonably affordable, or even free, and offer a digital certificate upon completion which you can present to a potential employer upon completion.
Depending on which online course you do, some offer direct feedback, guidance and advice, delivered by a tutor through the phone or zoom, meaning you will have plenty of opportunities to clarify anything you may be unsure about.
Where can I get certified?
There are hundreds of online I.T courses, ranging from ones that cover specific I.T practices and may last a couple of hours, to entire I.T certification programmes that may take a couple of months to complete. We have listed some of the most well known I.T courses which are free of charge below.
Free code camp has a multitude of courses available in different coding languages, if you are looking to begin your programming journey. There are also courses available in responsive web design, and data security if you would like to expand your range of skills. All courses offer free certifications upon completion, which are widely recognised across the globe.
Google offers a plethora of free online courses within the digital field, from digital marketing to cloud computing on their qwiklabs platform. If you are keen to develop your knowledge in the area of cloud computing, networking and security and more you can complete these courses on the google learning platform free of charge, and gain a globally recognised certification.
Another google learning platform, often dubbed as ‘Google University’ – offering courses in a variety of I.T related fields such as android development, project management, UX design, and IT support. Each course lasts less than 6 months and will give you a comprehensive understanding of the field.
This IBM Data Science Professional Certificate, offered through Coursera revolves around the development of skills and experience within the machine learning and data science field – providing the opportunity to gain practical experience as well as cover theory based modules.
This course designed by Harvard University gives an introduction into the intellectual enterprises of computer science, as well as programming in a variety of languages. Most importantly, this course aims to teach students how to think algorithmically and solve problems. This is a self paced course, which offer students who complete their programming assignments and the final project an official certificate.
Future Learn is an online learning platform that contains hundreds of free courses that can be categorised into four genres – short courses, expert hacks, microcredentials and online degrees. Many of the short courses are completely free, with an affordable upgrade option for those who wish to request a certificate upon completion. Some of the most popular IT courses include advanced cyber security training, data science fundamentals of Microsoft Azure, and Data Visualisation.
MOOC is a platform providing free online courses across many professional fields. MOOC stands for Massive Online Open Courses, which aim to provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills, advance your career and deliver quality educational experiences at scale. The platform is filled with I.T related courses, including ones within the computer science field across a variety of different categories such as Algorithms, AI, Computer Graphics, Machine Learning and more.