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5 Top Business Certifications to Pursue in 2017

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Published on March 30, 2017

At a certain point in your career, you'll be managing systems and people rather than day-to-day operations and end users. That's the hope, anyway.

There's no better way to prepare for a managerial role than to show you have what it takes to manage systems and people. Similarly, there's no easier way to validate that knowledge than by earning certifications. Business-related certifications (even the IT-specific ones) accelerate your career and transfer to every sector of the business world.

Here are the top business certifications you should be pursuing in 2017 to advance your career.

Project management

Whether you want your next job title to be IT director, senior sysadmin, or network engineer, you'll likely see project management listed under "preferred skills," and with good reason. Modern IT systems are complicated. As you progress, you'll be working with many stakeholders, functions, and systems.

Project Management Institute PMP®. If you're currently directing projects, then you should consider the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. It's designed as a way to validate your knowledge and experience as an individual who is currently working as a project manager. If you're not sure whether your current position has a project manager element, you might want to consult the PMI website. Experience is a key prerequisite to earning this certification.

As the Project Management Institute proudly states, their certifications will qualify a project manager to work in virtually any industry, anywhere in the world, and the PMP® is the gold standard for project management.

ITIL®. IT is considered a service role in many organizations and many functions do fall under that banner. While we agree that certain elements provide services to end-users, we also argue that it's a core business function. (Think about what happens when your IT services fail. It certainly feels critical, doesn't it?)

If there's a single certification you should consider this year, it's ITIL®. The ITIL® certifications focus on aligning IT services with business needs. Drawing a big line between the project plan and project schedule, ITIL® project managers consider IT as a part of the initial planning rather than a reactive fire drill. ITIL® provides the tools, terms, and processes you'll need to boost your career to the next level.

Business Data

Modern businesses create lots of data. Businesses are also in desperate need of people with the skills to store, access, and analyze this data. Here are a couple certifications that will fill the need of companies for a nice promotion or a lateral move into a position that needs your skills.

Microsoft Data Management and Analytics.

Microsoft will replace its MCSE: Business Intelligence certification in 2017 with the new MCSE: Data Management and Analytics. (Learn more about Microsoft's new certification structure.) As a highly sought-after certification for DBAs and business intelligence analysts, the new MCSE track concentrations rely heavily on the SQL version of your choice (either Server 2012, Server 2014, or SQL 2016). If you're looking for a certification to move into the business analytics side of things from your current IT role, then this is your path.

CBT Nuggets trainer Garth Schulte goes into depth about the new Microsoft certifications covering business intelligence in his recent webinar (9:07).


If you're working with business data, you'll eventually graduate to, um, bigger data. Perhaps even big data, which by definition isn't big, so much as it is messy. That's why you should get comfortable (and certified) with the languages, hardware, and software that businesses use to mine valuable, actionable information from the deluge of data created by modern businesses.

You should become familiar with AWS, SQL for queries, Python, and perhaps even R (the open source language of researchers).

Business Frameworks

There aren't necessarily certifications associated with these frameworks, but you should become familiar with the latest and most popular development frameworks available. Whether your current operation works on the different project physics associated with Agile, DevOps, or ITIL®, your familiarity with these frameworks can help your current processes and your career.

Earning business certs as an IT pro

Whether you're a business professional with knowledge of IT, or an IT professional attempting to move closer to the business requirements side of your company, these certifications will give you a leg up on the competition.

Businesses need versatile people with cross-departmental capabilities. Businesses need sales engineers, business intelligence analysts with in-depth knowledge of infrastructure, and project managers rooted professionally in operations or development. Becoming a vital go-between for the sales and production sides of the company will serve you greatly in your career.

What's more important is the ability to validate your cross-functional knowledge with the certifications. Certifications save space on your resume, fill out skills not necessarily apparent in your job title, and, importantly, increase your worth to the company.


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