What are IT certifications?

Why get IT certifications, and why are they important?

IT certifications are among the most effective ways for IT professionals to accelerate their careers. These certifications give professionals at all levels of experience the opportunity to develop deep knowledge of a particular area of IT and demonstrate their skills and expertise. Gaining a certification can help professionals build their skill set and achieve their ambitions, whether their goal is a promotion, a lateral move within their organization, or to strike out on a new career path.

Certifications are important because they’re a straightforward way of verifying your competency in specific areas of IT. It’s one thing to say that you’re capable of using an emerging technology; it’s another for a verified institution to validate your capabilities with proof that you’ve taken a multihour course and passed an exam testing your skills. When IT professionals add IT certifications to their resumes, they have verified proof of their skills and accomplishments. In a highly competitive field, the right IT certification can help give you a marked advantage over other job seekers.

Who needs IT certifications?

IT professionals at every stage of their career can benefit from earning IT certifications.

  • New to the industry: For anyone trying to break into the IT field, IT certifications provide a self-directed way to build education and experience. For most, earning certifications can be a practical method of breaking into the industry , providing students with the flexibility to learn on a schedule that accommodates their other commitments and responsibilities.
  • Entry-level professionals: For employees in entry-level jobs, IT certifications can quickly expand the breadth of their capabilities, enabling them to take on more responsibilities or apply for promotions.
  • Mid-career professionals: IT certifications can help mid-career professionals validate their expertise, upskill, reskill, master a new specialty, and ensure their knowledge and expertise are up to date with the latest industry developments. For anyone looking to move to the next stage of their career or to chart a new career path, IT certifications can be a valuable way to build on existing strengths and develop new ones.
  • Senior professionals: Even senior employees can benefit from IT certifications. Technology evolves quickly in the IT field, and making informed decisions about when and how to integrate new technology requires a deep understanding of emerging capabilities.

Which IT certifications will help my career the most?

There are many IT certifications and learning paths available—from those providing critical foundational knowledge to those that focus on developing and demonstrating expertise in a specific skill, technology, or platform. The certifications you choose will depend on your desired career trajectory. Here are several examples of IT certifications that can accelerate your progress toward your goals.

Foundations courses: Foundations courses provide the most-essential knowledge about a specific subject and are available on many IT topics—for example, Oracle offers foundations courses in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) for IT professionals. Foundational courses are designed for anyone new to a particular topic or technology, teaching the basics and providing a solid foundation upon which to build additional skills. A certification in a foundations course often shows potential employers that you are capable of tackling core tasks using the technology and have the ability to develop more-specialized skills with further training and experience.


Java: A Java certification delivers in-demand programming skills through comprehensive training, and it can give those who are certified a competitive advantage. Java is an essential skill for developers, and online courses teach how to build applications while focusing on functionality, reliability, portability, and security. Java courses can be taken by both those who are new to Java and those who have some experience and want to continue building their skill set. Taking a Java course keeps users current with the latest updates and iterations, which is critical as Java’s capabilities are constantly evolving.


Architecture: An IT certification in infrastructure architecture can be a valuable asset in building a long and successful career. Understanding both core principles and emerging capabilities allows IT professionals to build infrastructure that meets their organization’s specific needs, leveraging cutting-edge options. An example of this type of certification is the OCI Architect Associate Certification, which provides a strong background in platform fundamentals such as compute, storage, networking, databases, security, and more. It also teaches OCI skills for critical areas such as supporting a hybrid configuration and providing developer services.


Database SQL: A database SQL certification allows IT professionals to develop and demonstrate a thorough understanding of fundamental SQL concepts, such as queries, insert, update, Data Control Language, data modeling, and more. This enables them to undertake any database project while gaining a solid understanding of SQL language, developing fluency, and using SQL to create and manipulate tables within a database. Database SQL certifications typically require knowledge of general computing concepts, command line interfaces, and some experience working in command line.


Specific tools and platforms: IT certifications are also available for specific platforms and tools. For example, the Oracle Autonomous Database Specialist Certification verifies expertise in cutting-edge database technology. This certification demonstrates the knowledge necessary to provision, manage, monitor, and migrate workloads to Autonomous Database as well as knowledge of its related development tools. Depending on your career trajectory, specialized certifications can open new career paths and allow for both accelerated and lateral movement.

Where can I get IT certifications?

In the early 2000s, certifications had to be earned by taking night courses at community colleges or private learning institutions, but today classes are accessible online and available as self-guided and self-directed modules. This provides scheduling flexibility, ensuring that everyone can get the education they want while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

A simple web search for specific IT certifications should return many options, giving you a chance to find a certification that will both teach you the skills you want to learn and work with your budget and schedule. Oracle University offers many different certification courses, from foundational training to certifications for specific Oracle tools.