The 10 hottest IT certifications for 2003

The online magazine for IT professionals, CertCities.com, surveyed its readers to come up with the following list of hot IT certifications for this year.

          The following ranking is based not on the most popular certifications, but rather on the fastest-growing certifications in the industry, according to Becky Nagel, editor of CertCities.com.

          The online magazine for IT professionals surveyed its readers to come up with the following list of hot IT certifications for this year. For each certification considered, CertCities compared the number of respondents who said they hold a particular certification with the number who said they would be getting the certification within the next 12 months.

          1. Cisco Systems Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)

          2. Security+

          3. Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)

          4. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

          5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

          6. Check Point Certified Security Administrator (CCSA)

          7. Linux+

          8. Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA)

          9. Sun Certified System Administrator for Solaris Operating Environment

          10. Tie: Citrix Certified Enterprise Administrator (CCEA) and Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA)

          Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of training

          Getting feedback through surveys or informal post-training interviews is a good way to measure the effectiveness of your IT training, managers say. At United Stationers in Des Plaines, Illinois, IT employees fill out a questionnaire following an IT training session, says Ergin Uskup, CIO and senior vice president of MIS. The company's training manager then has one-on-one follow-up conversations with employees to see whether the experience met their needs and whether they would recommend the class to colleagues.

          Three months later, the training manager checks in again with employees and their managers to see if the training helped the employees improve their skills. Managers then act on the information gleaned from these conversations. United Stationers, which allocates about $US450,000 per year to train about 250 IT employees, enters into partnerships with training companies that receive a high rating and drops those that perform poorly, says Uskup.

          Train workers 'just in time'

          Another way to maximise training dollars, say managers, is to put the trainee's new knowledge to work right away. At United Stationers, employees get to work on projects related to their training immediately after classes about 75% of the time, says Uskup. In addition, the company gives priority to skills training that employees will need in the short term.

          "We always try to match training with a task," says David Molchany, CIO of the Fairfax County government in Fairfax, Virginia, which annually spends $600,000 on IT training. Managers work with employees to create a plan for trainees to use their know-how soon after a class. For instance, if staffers attend training on installing Microsoft products, they might use what they learned when they return to work by performing a software implementation. Molchany calls this "just-in-time training."

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