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11 certifications for entry-level IT operations roles

Looking to start a career in IT operations? Check out these courses and certifications for beginners to gather all the foundational skills you'll need.

IT certifications demonstrate to current and future employers that you are knowledgeable and skilled in different areas of the technology field. But, for somebody just starting an IT career, it can be difficult to know which certification is worth the effort and time.

IT operations certifications can cover broad topics, such as system administration or DevOps, or focus on more specific technologies, like Kubernetes. Meanwhile, some are vendor-specific, while others are more general to the industry.

Check out this list of IT certifications for entry-level IT operations roles to determine which options best align with your unique career and education goals.

IT Fundamentals (ITF+), CompTIA

This pre-career certification helps students -- or those looking to change careers -- determine if a future in IT is for them. To do so, this certification covers IT concepts and terminology, application management and infrastructure basics, programming languages and concepts, database fundamentals and security.

CompTIA offers e-learning lessons, virtual labs, study guides and instructor-led trainings for exam preparation.

A+, CompTIA

If you did well on the ITF+ certification or have a more advanced IT knowledge and skill level, consider the CompTIA A+ certification as a next step in your IT career. This certification demonstrates knowledge of core enterprise technologies and IT practices, such as cloud management, as well as baseline skills across OS configuration, scripting and networking.

To prepare for this entry-level IT certification, CompTIA offers training in many forms, as mentioned above.

ITIL Foundation Certification, Axelos

Information Technology Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, is a framework to standardize IT service delivery and management.

This ITIL certification is meant for those in search of a basic understanding of the framework and how it can streamline IT service management. Expect to learn about ITIL 4 principles, the four dimensions of service management and the Lean, Agile and DevOps methodologies.

The course for this certification typically requires two and a half days of training, with an exam at the end, depending on the training provider.

IT Support Professional Certificate, Google

Something is always going wrong in IT. On the bright side, that means IT support specialists are always in demand. A learn-at-your-own-pace course, this IT certificate program from Google takes a learner an average timeline of three to six months to become competent with day-to-day IT support tasks.

This course requires no prior experience; according to Google, 61% of learners don't have a four-year degree. Learn valuable help desk skills, such as troubleshooting and customer service, along with network protocols and cloud computing and systems administration concepts. The certification also covers how to use domain name systems, command-line interfaces, binary code and Linux systems.

Through this course, learners can earn a recommended 12 college credits and, if they also pass the CompTIA A+ certification exams, can earn dual credentials from CompTIA and Google.

System Administration and IT Infrastructure Services, Google

Regardless of the size of their organization, IT beginners can use this certification course from Google to learn about infrastructure services. It covers best practices to select hardware, vendors and services; common infrastructure services and how to manage them; cloud operations; and backups and disaster recovery.

Lessons are available online for completion at the learner's pace.

Continuous Delivery & DevOps, University of Virginia

Available on Coursera, this course introduces the learner to the basics of continuous delivery and DevOps. Lessons focus on how to evaluate and improve a delivery pipeline; automation testing in the development stack; how to use an iterative team approach to pipeline improvements; and core DevOps skills and roles. This course also includes lessons on unit testing, system testing and infrastructure as code.

Take this course online at your own pace, with personalized deadlines set around your schedule.

Introduction to Containers w/ Docker, Kubernetes & OpenShift, IBM

Containerization is not going away any time soon, which means it's worth the investment to learn about.

This entry-level IT certification is targeted for roles such as DevOps engineer, cloud architect and cloud developer. This containerization course introduces the learner to container technologies, such as Docker, Kubernetes, Red Hat OpenShift and Istio. Lessons in the syllabus cover the benefits of containers, Kubernetes architecture, and how Kubernetes, OpenShift and Istio work together to deploy applications.

Learn with hands-on labs that feature containerization tools to build cloud-native applications, and deploy them in cloud environments at scale.

Introduction to DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering (LFS162), The Linux Foundation

For IT managers who want to start a DevOps transformation or for those who want to start a career in DevOps or site reliability engineering (SRE), this introductory course will kick-start that journey.

While this training is geared toward beginners, those who take the course ideally have an intermediate understanding of Linux systems. Additional recommended prerequisites include basic scripting knowledge and an understanding of networking concepts, utilities and troubleshooting. Some knowledge of computer and network security concepts, virtualization, systems administration and troubleshooting is also helpful.

Material in this course covers DevOps and SRE basics and how cloud computing has changed the build and deploy processes. Containers, infrastructure as code, continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) and observability are also covered.

Introduction to DevOps: Practices and Tools, The Linux Foundation

If you want more than just an introductory look at DevOps and SRE skills and technologies -- but still need beginner-level information -- consider this DevOps program and certification. This entry-level IT certification includes three courses: Introduction to DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering, Introduction to Jenkins and Introduction to Serverless on Kubernetes.

Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA), Cloud Native Computing Foundation

Kubernetes dominates container orchestration. The CKA certification demonstrates the skills and knowledge to perform as a Kubernetes administrator. For example, those with this certification will have proven they can complete a basic Kubernetes installation and can configure and manage production-level Kubernetes clusters. Certificate holders understand core Kubernetes features related to networking, storage, security, maintenance and troubleshooting.

The exam can be purchased alone or with a training course from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation or The Linux Foundation. This exam is online and includes a free retake. The certification is valid for three years.

Introduction to Service Mesh with Linkerd, The Linux Foundation

A service mesh is a layer of infrastructure that controls service-to-service communication and is most commonly used to support cloud applications, containers and microservices. As more organizations shift to cloud and use Kubernetes to orchestrate application containers, an understanding of service mesh will be crucial.

This service mesh course introduces the technology and its basics. A certificate from this course will signify that you know how to install a service mesh on Kubernetes using Linkerd. Additional points include how to use a service mesh to improve security and how to create a blue-green deployment structure to Kubernetes applications.

No single service mesh tool dominates on a level parallel to Kubernetes in the container orchestration space, but there are no signs that the technology will go away any time soon.

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