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Advancing tech support careers:

Certifications vs. experience

January 15, 2018 | By Jordan Schwartz, TEKsystems Digital Marketing Specialist

male and female customer service reps on headsets

“Getting a certification is like getting a driver’s license.” says Juan Gonzalez, an End User Services recruiter for TEKsystems. “Everyone has the ability to get one, but that doesn’t mean you’re good at driving.”

Many experienced IT pros agree that certifications don't prove a candidate can do the job. But does that mean certifications aren't important for your tech support career?

Let's get down to business: Certifications or experience?

TEKsystems' End User Services recruiters spend a lot of time fielding the certifications vs. experience question, but it bears asking again: Should a tech support candidate spend time and money to become certified, or applying to different jobs to beef up experience and resume?

"There isn't a cookie cutter answer for every client," says Ben Robbins, an End User Services account manager for TEKsystems. How much employers weigh experience vs. certifications depends on a couple of factors:

  1. Are you applying to work at a large corporation or small start-up?
  2. Are you just starting out in your IT career or are you a seasoned vet?

Hiring managers weigh certifications and experience differently based on the size of their company and the applicant's history. If you're just starting your IT career, a certification could be the differentiator between you and another applicant. If you've been in the IT game for several years, experience has more weight. And large corporations are more likely to care about or require certifications than smaller organizations and startups.

Do hiring managers like seeing certifications on a resume?

“In terms of getting your foot in the door, certifications give you an upper hand," says Ben. If a hiring manager sees a certification on your resume, it shows them:

  1. You have an aptitude for retaining information and you're able to prove it
  2. You possess dedication and willingness to better yourself and career

Which tech support certifications are worth pursuing?

The CompTIA certification family is the way to go. “I recommend becoming certified in CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+” says Juan. “Hiring managers like seeing those certifications on a candidates resume to go hand-in-hand with the relevant experience.”

Speaking of resumes, it’s important to list the certifications you have.“If you have a certification, listing them on your resume is still very important,” says Juan. “I recommend every candidate create a 'skills' section to list the appropriate certifications you have.”

Do you feel have more questions? You can talk to one of TEKsystems’ well-informed End User Services recruiters by calling your nearest TEKsystems office. Or search hundreds of tech support jobs now to gain experience—contract work is a great way to add experience because employers are more willing to take a chance on inexperienced workers in temporary positions. Once you become a TEKsystems consultant, you'll have access to over 5,000 free training courses, including ones to help you prepare for CompTIA certifications.

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