Is it worth getting certifications?
Mobile-based application programming along with cloud computing are among the core areas of computer education
FROM a desk-size to a palm-sized computing experience, technology is evolving fast. In this age of highly volatile information technologies, it is necessary to constantly learn and upgrade skill sets to meet industry needs. Besides regular degree courses, students can specialize and enhance their knowledge through certifications and diplomas.
Tiered certifications allow freshmen to advanced professionals to enahnce and upgrade skill set to suit market needs
Certifications enable assessment and validation of the definite computing skills. Such courses in IT are spread across the entire spectrum of learning a comprehensive language to complimenting add-on courses that accelerate the career graph.
The core areas of certifications include cloud computing, network security and privacy. Areas such as mobile-based application programming are coming into mainstream with the rampant applications of embedded systems (microprocessors) in customized consumer products such as mobile phones. Major business certifications are drawn from computer applications in the area of business analytics and project management. The certifications are largely offered by three main clusters namely, the vendors of the technology, government and private organizations.
IT now forms a core of our daily activities from computing to commuting, learning to shopping, entertainment to healthcare. Specialized courses cater to the specific needs of these service sectors. For instance, courses in e-commerce, health informatics ensure efficient delivery of everyday services. They often require work experience to relate with the problems and their solutions.
"IT and ICT-based business and job opportunities thrive in digital media, e-commerce and mobile-based applications. This rise in mobile-based applications defining our lifestyle can be attributed to a huge consumer-base that will fuel the development of IT field,” foresees Keshav Sharma, Director, Jak Software, a leading IT company in e-governance and digital media services.
Pursuing the course
Professional certifications impact the career path and incur both time and money. Anuj Kacker, Executive Director, Aptech Ltd, gives three pointers for deciding on the certification course, “First is the area of interest in IT Field (Software development, Web Application Development, Networking, Network Security, Data Base Administration), second is the Market share of the technologies (Microsoft, Oracle, etc.) and hence the opportunity for jobs in the domain and the relevant certifications in the domain,” he said.
A plethora of courses can be pursued right after 10+2. They combine computing experience with an opportunity to learn fundamentals of programming languages. The 100-hour course in ITES-BPO (Customer Care) by NIELIT is an example. These courses are open to students from all streams. Here they develop an understanding of computer hardware and office automation that enable home-based and first-time users to browse and connect Internet services. Diploma courses in financial accounting expose Commerce students to computer applications while Science students get an opportunity to explore niche areas of Bioinformatics.
President, Career Building Solutions, NIIT
For college students
The fundamental base of learning is supplemented with courses pursued alongside regular degree programmes to create an industry-ready pool of HR. Flexible learning and teaching methodologies allow students to take up courses during the 2nd and 3rd year of Engineering and other courses. It gives them an edge in placement as it diversifies the scope of learning. Diploma in domains such as E-Commerce, Corporate Accounting and Applied Finance are suitable for those who plan a career in contemporary areas of computer applications.
Professional certifications in IT are non-degree awards where a qualified individual is certified by an authority in the domain. Certified courses recognize the evolving career paths in the IT sector and train people to adapt to these changes. These include vendors or providers of specific technologies. The customized courses enable empowering manpower for specialized handling of technologies. The prerequisites vary for certifications including factors such as past professional experience in terms of time and technology domain, qualifying preliminary examination etc. Certifications mostly require renewals. “Professional certifications enable upgradation of technical skills. These bridge programmes allow experienced users of technology to upscale on the existing fundamental knowledge,” shares Amitabh Lahiri of NIIT Ltd.
Certifications and diplomas are offered by private and public institutions along with specific industries. Some of the notable public institutions include NIELIT and Centre for Advanced Computing (CDAC) with pan India centres under the supervision of Department of Electronics & Information Technology (DeitY), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of India. With ‘capacity building, research and education in IT’ as their main aims, they offer diplomas and certificates in the whole spectrum of computer applications.
NIIT and Aptech are some of the noted private institutions that certify students in computer applications and also train them to take up exams conducted by vendors for specific technologies. Such training enables students to crack internationally-acclaimed certifications for brighter job prospects.
The industry generally focuses on certifying users in technologies and products pioneered by them. These private companies are often referred to as ‘vendors’ who facilitate access to learning resources, training and examination to get certified in specific technologies.
College graduates take up diplomas alongside regular degree courses with flexible ;earning and teaching options
As the technologies change rapidly, human resource requirement is generated making way for adaptation to the new applications and processes. College students seek certifications to basic level courses to make them ‘job-ready’ upon graduation as they are familiarized with the products of their potential employers. They take up online courses alongside regular degree programmes that enable them to crack these competitive examinations conducted by private corporations. Professionals often approach third party or a private company for acquiring a certification to advance their careers by upgrading their skill sets from time to time.
Some of the certificate courses which may add value and enhance employability during the graduation and post graduation level are Microsoft, Oracle, Red Hat & Cisco, says MudadiSanyasi, Vice President (University Learning Solution & Individual Learning Solution), Talentedge. They validate the skill-sets required for the roles of specialist, engineer and administrator of specific technologies. Certifications test the individual’s competence for specific career paths as they take up exams leading to advanced professional roles. This necessitates a careful assessment of the prerequisites for certifications and description for job requirements before registering for one.
The whole of gamut of information technology courses ranging from basic familiarity with computer system to advanced diplomas are imparted by institutes like NIELIT and CDAC. NIELIT conducts a basic computer course on the same lines as CDAC’s certificate programme spanning 1.5 months covering computer fundamentals and Internet browsing. The courses give familiarity with basic computing activities to specialising in niche technology areas.
The entire field of E-commerce is supported by Digital Marketing. The pervasive nature of digital marketing is galvanized primarily by search keywords, social media popularity, Google Adwords. Newsletters are one of the most effective ways of reaching the potential customers in the era of online retail
In line with the mission to ‘expand the frontiers of electronics and information technology’, CDAC imparts education through its major programmes namely, ‘GIST - Programme for Advancing Computer Education (PACE)’ and ‘Advanced Computing Training School (ACTS)’ apart from corporate training. The transmission of computer education in regional languages has been the prime focus of PACE programme. It is structured to deliver diploma and advanced diplomas courses in areas such as JAVA, E-commerce, Financial Accounting and multilingual computing. Advanced diplomas and certificate courses in specialized domains of ‘Embedded Systems, VLSI Design, Electronic Design and Automation’ that find applications in the semiconductor industry are conducted by NIELIT centers in Calicut, Aurangabad, Gorakhpur and Imphal in addition to select CDAC training centres. CDAC attempts to deliver education in advanced areas of ICT (Information communication Technology) like Geoinformatics and Automation SCADA System through its ACTS programme.
These government-recognized institutions give equal emphasis on software as well as computer hardware training programmes. NIELIT in accordance with Manufacturers Association for Information Technology (MAIT) hosts diploma and advanced diploma for training and education in ‘Computer Hardware Maintenance & Networking (CHM)’.
Some of the private institutes such as NIIT, Aptech, Jetking train students through their customized training programmes, enabling them to take up vendor-specific certification exams. Aptech equips students for clearing exams to be validated by international IT companies like Microsoft, Oracle and Java. These global certifications enable specialized skills required to master the desired technology. These can be pursued right after 10+2 or even during the course of graduate programme. “NIIT through its cloud computing technology and partnership with Microsoft in the learning space have evolved together a curriculum to suit the industry needs while maintaining standardized pedagogical standards,” says Amitabh Lahiri.
Jetking has marked a niche for itself in ‘computer hardware and networking’ courses among the private players. Through its select career and short courses, it has developed a curriculum to suit international corporations in the field of network security. Additionally, advanced learning tools have made the learning experience flexible and accessible. “Aptech’s ‘Online Varsity’, a 24X7 learning Aptech learning portal gives students added learning opportunities by interaction with various domain experts, peers, video-based learning, etc. coupled with classroom training,” explains Kacker.
Diplomas in E-commerce, digital marketing, financial accounting are increasingly in high demand by specific industries
Information Technology finds applications in almost every sphere of our daily life. From analysing business data to its security, its pervasive role in ensuring smooth functioning of service delivery cannot be ignored. These range from fashion to finance in addition to service sectors like healthcare and e-commerce that are driven largely by ICT. Institutes offer short-term courses that help to understand fundamentals and deepen the knowledge of IT tools and services specific to the industry.
NIFT Hyderabad awards a certificate in ‘Computer Application in Fashion Industry (CAFI) as a part of continuing education programme. 10+2 pass-outs can enrol for the 1-year course to learn the role of IT in fashion business. “We use softwares like Photoshop and CoralDRAW for the basics while tools like 3DS Max and SolidWorks come handy in product designing,” says Nidheesh Sasi, 2nd year, Fashion and Lifestyle Accessory Designer, NIFT Bangalore.
Healthcare Informatics and Bioinformatics
The role of Information Technology in healthcare management of patient and hospital records, data mining and treatment of diseases is on an increase. CDAC boasts of unique healthcare solutions like, “Sanjeevani – a Telemedicine Solution”. A six-month postgraduate diploma course can be taken up by engineering graduates to establish a career in healthcare informatics. Bioinformatics is the emerging field of interdisciplinary science research enabling determination of molecular structure among other vital applications. ‘A’ and ‘O’ level courses in Bioinformatics are conducted by NIELIT that can be pursued after 10+2 and graduation respectively.
Accounting and Finance
It’s advisable for Commerce students and professionals working with presentations and charts to pursue the 144-hour-long diploma course conducted by CDAC. Select modules in PowerPoint, Tally, Outlook, ISM and MS-Word constitute the core components of the curriculum. Among private players, NIIT offers a diploma course to strengthen the grip on softwares and tools in finance and accounts.
“All our daily operations are driven by Information Technology tools. We use accounting software Tally. ERP 9 to increase work productivity. All income filings are done online with the help of accounting software that enhances work efficiency,” elucidates, Abhinav Suri, promoter-director of Finmark Pvt. Ltd, engaged in providing advisory on financial transactions like equity, debt and currency.
E-commerce and Digital Marketing
In the digital age, online shopping has become a cost-effective and time-saving way of having goods delivered at your doorstep at the click of a mouse. Many companies engage in this business model as it saves them logistic cost and customers benefit from many attractive deals online, leading to the emergence of digital marketing. “The entire field of e-commerce is supported by digital marketing. The pervasive nature of digital marketing is galvanized primarily by search keywords, social media popularity, Google Adwords. Newsletters are one of the most effective ways of reaching the potential customers,” elaborates Keshav Sharma of Jak Software. NIIT conducts diploma course in digital marketing that enable professionals as well as graduates in their careers in different aspects of digital marketing.
The course essentially covers marketing modules through mobile, email and social media interfaces. Six-month diploma course in e-commerce by CDAC is suitable for gaining a holistic view of the domain from introduction of ‘various categories of e-commerce’ to ‘building an e-commerce site’.
The validation in business analytics enables the industry to distinguish professionals equipped with technical expertise in handling tools for data research and analysis The validation by IBM Certification Program and EMCDSA, Microsoft render credence to users.
EXPERT TALK: Does certifications hold any value?
Prof. Rajat Moona
Q. How do certificates enhance employability for a B.Tech fresher vis-Ã -vis PGDCA graduate in IT Sector?
A. IT sector looks for professionals having skill-set in specialized domains. The curriculum of B.Tech and equivalent degree are generic in nature, whereas the short-term courses are meant for imparting skill-sets as per the requirements of the IT sector. If a B.Tech student does a short-term diploma, then his chances of getting hired is very bright as compared to others. Certifications bridge the gap between academia and the industry. These courses are designed with the help of industry experts and the students who complete it are ready with practical skills and companies can deploy them on live projects right away. C-DAC offers various PG Diploma courses on domains like Advanced Computing, Wireless & Mobile Computing, VLSI Design, Embedded System & Design, IT infrastructure, Cyber Security, Healthcare informatics, Geoinformatics, which are popular, helping students get right opportunities after successfully completing them.
Q2. What current and future trends in certifications do you foresee, for entry level and associate level professionals?
A. Modular courses in various domains like banking, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, telecom, etc. are good for entry level. Such courses will enhance the chance of engineers in getting absorbed in MNCs in specific verticals. For e.g., an engineer with manufacturing certificate course has high chances of getting absorbed at Tata Motors compared to an engineer without such certification. Associate level – Courses/certification like executive MBA, PMP, Six Sigma, ITIL, courses offered by Cisco/Redhat/Microsoft/Oracle/Sun; courses on support and services, etc. are useful for senior folks who are looking to grow further.
Q3. What are the most prestigious certificates and why?
A. MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate), MCSE: Private Cloud, VCP (VMware Certified Professional), CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), PMP (Project Management Professional), CISM: Certified Information Security Manager, CCNP +S: Cisco Certified Network Professional + Security, RHCSA: Red Hat Certified System Administrator, CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate, SalesForce.com Administrator. These courses are very popular among professionals and are in high demand from the industry. Main reason behind the popularity is that such specific areas are not covered in traditional educational systems even though there is an increasing demand from MNCs across the globe.
Q. How do certificates enhance employability of a B.Tech fresher vis-a-vis a PGDCA graduate?
A. In the current economy, certifications serve as a tool for validating skill levels, improved marketability and enhanced career opportunities. They validate the knowledge of the candidate on a particular technology/domain designed by the respective vendors of the technology and hence validates by measuring the depth, expertise and level of knowledge. They also allow companies to shortlist the candidates with tested and required credentials.
Q. Are there any certificate courses recommended for UG/PG students?
A. For Developer Audience, with development migrating from PCs to devices, the shift of software development on applications are also moving to device-independent and platform agnostic development as the future. The suggested courses for Mobile Application Development are Android App Development, iOS App Development and Windows App Development. These courses require some pre-requisite knowledge of software programming languages like C, C++ before getting started.
For IT Pro Audience the programmes for Network and System Administrations are: Microsoft Certifications with Cloud Computing Skills like MCSA and MCSE, which are in demand. On the Unix-based operating systems - Red Hat Certification like RHCSA (Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator) and RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer) are in demand. Other specialization certifications in Cloud Computing and Virtualization like VM Ware VCP Certification are also in demand.
There is also a huge demand from enterprises and government for Networking Security professionals. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH Certification), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) have now become bench mark industry certifications for professionals in this domain.
Q. What are the prestigious certificates in today’s top IT fields?
A. Top IT Certifications based on the emerging trends in the IT Industry are: Mobile Application Development (Android, iOS and Windows), Big Data (Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop), Cloud Certifications (Microsoft, Red Hat, VM Ware, etc.), Wireless Networking, Cyber Security (CISSP, CISM, etc.), Green IT and Data Analytics (EMCDSA, Microsoft, etc.)
Choose programme of your choice!
Office Automation and Financial Accounting
Hardware Networking & Security (ADHNS)
Computer Application in Fashion Industry
Oracle Database administrator
Windows Store App Development
Oracle 10g: PL/SQL
Embedded System Design
Automation & SCADA Systems
GNIIT (Business System Information Management)
Check Point Software Technologies
McAfee Assessment Certification
Oracle Solaris 10 Certified Security Administrator
IBM Certified Administrator – Tivoli Monitoring V6.2.3
Google Apps Certified Administrator