Technical certifications are a reliable way to learn about a new technology or to increase your chances of getting a promotion. These programs also require a significant investment of time and money.
Micro-credentials are a quicker and more affordable way to develop a speciality or add a particular skill to your resume. Micro-credentials are usually short, focused, low-cost online courses that usually offer a digital certification or badge upon completion.
Joshua Hester, director of professional training at cybersecurity workforce training firm, CyberVista, said that micro-credentials are a way to create a distinctive skill set that matches an individual's personal interests.
"Micro-credentials are a way to combine skill sets to show what you are capable of doing and to create your own template that you can sell a company on," he said.
He used the role of a database administrator as an example of a role that has changed over the years and requires a different skill set to meet current business needs.
Hester said that programs range from two weeks to two months.
Art Langer is the founder of Workforce Opportunity Services, a nonprofit that recruits, trains, and places people from underserved populations and military veterans into tech jobs. Langer is also the director of Columbia University's Center for Technology Management. He said IT professionals who are midcareer definitely need to seek out certification if they're going to significantly develop their skills because with the acceleration of change comes the acceleration of obsolescence.
"With the ongoing impact of COVID-19, there will be more demand for those with skills in cybersecurity and analytics," he said.
Langer said the current downturn is similar to the transition in the 80s and 90s when automation replaced many jobs and people used severance pay to take computer courses and apply those new skills to sectors that had job opportunities.
"Someone who completes a technical training program has the background to apply that knowledge to analysis, project management and more," he said.
In response to the layoffs due to the coronavirus shutdown, online training company Cybrary is offering a Scholars program for professionals (https://www.cybrary.it/blog/cybrary-announces-newscholars- program-to-support-professionals-impacted-by/) who have been furloughed, laid off, or had work hours reduced.
Scholars will receive an annual Cybrary Insider Pro membership and a voucher to take any of the CompTIA exams. Cybrary Scholars will work with mentors from the Cybrary network to receive career guidance and coaching. The deadline to apply is May 1 (https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfvdhor5A1TW_w3n5Gqx6d6hhHUDiGiscqipA90GEPXDGfKNw/viewform) An Insider Pro account is $399 per year.
Beatriz Winn, the director of global community operations, said Cybrary users can select courses themselves or choose a career path at each level of expertise.
"Career paths group a set of courses, practice tests and labs needed for specific work roles in cyber," she said.
These micro-credentials go by several names, including nanodegrees on Udacity, MicroMasters on edX, and MicroDegree on Edevate. CompTIA offers digital badges for many of its programs.
Here is a brief look at micro-credentials and short courses available for a variety of IT skills from a variety of websites.
Cybrary (https://www.cybrary.it/) offers courses that range from a few hours to a few days. The Cybrary catalog covers:
- Digital forensics
- Ethical hacking
- Incident response
- International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium training (ISC2)
- Security compliance
- Security fundamentals
- Software languages
- Web app security
Each course has a thorough description including skill level, time required, on-demand or live format, available continuing education credits, and available certificates of completion. There are virtual labs, on-demand video training, and hands-on learning.
This site offers hands-on learning with real scenarios (https://linuxacademy.com/library/topics/AWS/type/Course) in real time and more than 900 hands-on labs.
The site's Cloud Playground is a safe place to practice coding, make mistakes, and learn cloud technologies and Linux. The courses are organized by platform—cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, and Linux—and by skill—security, devops, big data, and containers.
Many of the courses have a free intro video to give you an idea of what the class will cover. The course listings also include a syllabus, the required time investment, skill level, and the number of videos, hands-on labs, and quizzes that come with each course. The details on the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHEL 8 RHCE) course are:
- 20 hours
- 51 videos
- 23 hands-on labs
- 12 topics in the syllabus
- 1 final practice exam
The Community Edition courses are free. To access all the features of the site, membership
$449 per year or $49 per month.
Service Now is a digital transformation company that also offers micro-certifications as well as live classes. The training programs include beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes (https://nowlearning.service-now.com/lxp?id=welcome#none) for several roles including application specialists, business process analyst, developer, implementer, process user and sys admins. Some courses are free but most live classes require a fee.
The micro-certification topics include (https://www.servicenow.com/services/training-and-certification/microcertifications.html):
- Predictive intelligence
- Agile development and test management
- Application portfolio management
- Asset model management
- Automated test framework
- CSM with service management for implementers
- Enterprise onboarding and transitions
- Flow designed
- HR integrations
- Performance analytics
- Service portal
- Virtual agent
The micro-certifications exams are online, multiple-choice exams delivered in a non-proctored