2006 is upon us and it is time to take a look at the certifications that will be the buzz words for the year. This is not a list of which certifications will be the most popular; it is a list of the certs that will experience major continued growth or have their first growth spurt. Keep in mind that these are expert predictions and educated guesses, but are not scientifically based.
9) Prosoft Learning's CIW Foundations
I admit that I am going out on a big limb with this one. Several years ago, the CIW certification program was growing rapidly and the future of this program looked very bright. Then, as quickly as the buzz started, it all came crashing down when Prosoft Learning announced financial difficulties and later went through a failed attempt at integration with Trinity Learning. In late 2004, the company underwent management changes and spent too much of 2005 worrying about their NASDAQ status instead of reinvigorating their certification program. However, I believe that this is the year that they will turn the ship around. It shouldn't be too difficult considering the fact that this is still the best certification option for webmasters. Foundations is their entry level title and should experience the most growth in the coming year. If CompTIA updates their antiquated i-Net+ certification and the 2 companies renew their broken partnership, the CIW Foundations title will experience significant additional growth.
8) Cisco's CCIP
I believe that the Cisco Certified Internetworking Professional certification will grow quite a bit this year, but mostly in developing countries who will be expanding their infrastructure leading to the need for more service providers. This certification is also attractive because it shares 1 exam with the CCNP cert and another exam with the CCVP cert.
Although plagued by early problems, wireless networking has become a reliable solution for SOHO environments and for other applications, and the market has created a need for technicians that can install and troubleshoot wireless networks. To the best of my knowledge, CWNP is currently the only certification vendor offering vendor neutral wireless certifications. In October 2005, Planet3Wireless announced the release of Wireless# which is an entry level title. Because it is affordable, only requires 1 exam, and there is a market need, this cert should take off in 2006.
6) EC Council's CEH
Yes, security is still a hot topic and will remain so as long as there are losers that have nothing better to do than harm others. EC Council's Certified Ethical Hacker cert is rapidly gaining steam and the reason for this is a slightly different approach to security - learn how to hack your systems in order to prevent others from doing it.
5) CompTIA's Linux+
Linux+ is an entry-level Linux certification and a popular stepping stone on the way to other Linux qualifications such as LPIC and Red Hat certifications. As long as the popularity of higher level Linux certifications continues to increase, Linux+ will follow suit.
4) Cisco's CCVP
VOIP and IP telephony have been around for a little while, but it is beginning to appear that this will be the way of the future when it comes to voice communications. While being a fairly new title, the Cisco Certified Voice Professional certification is simply the most logical choice in this rapidly growing arena.
3) LPI's LPIC 1
Over the last couple of years, the Linux Professional Institute's LPIC 1 certification has gained credence and growing market recognition. This is partially due to a general increase in the popularity of Linux and Linux certification. It is also due to the fact that LPI's program fills a void that none of the other vendors do; an intermediate Linux credential with a reasonable price tag.
2) Microsoft's MCITP
The Microsoft Certified IT Professional designation is part of Microsoft's new certification paradigm that was recently announced. The MCTS will essentially replace the MCSA and MCSE designations for future tracks, and for that reason, it should have instant success. We will see this certification take off when Windows Vista is launched and the new certification track is released.
1) Microsoft's MCTS
Like the MCITP, the Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist designation is another new title that has been added to Microsoft's revamped certification program. It will essentially be the equivalent of the current MCP title and for that reason, it will eventually become the most popular certification available.