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Top IT Certifications Providers on LinkedIn

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

LinkedIn recently updated its list of the Top Certification Providers, placing five IT cert providers at the top of the list. Here's how you can use this data to make more informed decisions when it comes to your certification and training goals for the new year.

With over 320 million registered users to survey, LinkedIn has a great ability to reflect the beliefs of a large and mostly professional user population. That's at least one thing that makes LinkedIn's frequently updated ranking of Top Certification Providers interesting. Because it's drawn from the "total number of certifications shown on member profiles," it also provides a rough-and-ready metric of how professionals are choosing to invest their time and money in pursuing certifications. Very interesting indeed!

Because the overall list of  the top certification providers on LinkedIn not only reflects a large and diverse population, but also goes well beyond the boundaries of IT, I find it quite interesting that the first five elements of its top 100 are all IT-related credentials, as shown in this screen capture from the site:

Some very interesting data in this top five harvest puts two relative outsiders ahead of the "third gorilla."

Before I dig a little deeper into more certification data that LinkedIn offers about its members, I'd like to ruminate a bit on this top five list. First, it's no surprise at all that the three 800-pound gorillas of IT certification all appear in the top five -- namely, Microsoft at number one, Cisco at number three, and CompTIA at number five. That order is a bit surprising, as the overall number of certs in the wild probably ranks CompTIA just marginally ahead of Cisco.

The appearance of Coursera in the number two spot shows how important software development is to the overall LinkedIn community at large. While the appearance of the redoubtable PMI in the fourth spot -- no doubt for its Project Management Professional (PMP) certification -- shows that project management is indeed a big deal for IT professionals of all stripes and specialties nowadays. What's absolutely fascinating, of course, is to visit Coursera to marvel at their claim of over 10 million members, and likewise, to dig into the details of the numerous free programming (and other computing) courses available through this venue.

Digging further into the top 100 list, I see a total of 54 spots occupied by a mix of IT certification sponsors, training companies, test and cert prep provides, and other organizations with a least an indirect focus on IT certification, if not an outright mission or charter in that direction. The order of players is also pretty interesting, as is the historical depth of the litany involved (I can think of no other reason why else, for example, the Certified Internet Webmaster or CIW program continues to register on IT Professionals' radars).

The order of the next 10 IT certifications on the list (to which I append their spot within the list in parentheses), also sheds some interesting light on where people have been investing their time and energy in certification credentials, to wit:

  • Oracle (#8)
  • (#9)
  • APMG International #10)
  • EXIN (#11)
  • IBM (#13)
  • Scrum Alliance (#14) -- comes up highest overall on the Top Certifications by Occupation page
  • VMware (#15)
  • Google (#17)
  • ISACA (#19)
  • Sun Microsystems (#20) -- now part of Oracle too, of course

MORE: Best IT Certifications

I've always wondered how some of the biggest overall cert programs (like Oracle and IBM) that offer hundreds of mostly one-exam certification credentials, register with IT professionals overall. Finally these LinkedIn rankings provide some justification for an observation that they do register with many of them, and are reasonably widely pursued (and presumably maintained). It's also fascinating to observe that the Scrum Alliance (through its Certified Scummaster cert) rises to the top of the agile methodologies, and to see that Exin has spun ITIL and other governance and cloud topics into apparent gold. I'm also surprised that ISACA (parent of CISM, CISA, and more) at 19th place, comes in ahead of (ISC)2 at 28th place, given that the CISSP currently reigns supreme as the most popular of all the information security certifications available nowadays.

I can only hope that LinkedIn will maintain this interesting and valuable dataset from its members, and wish that it might shed even more light on the certification data it has already illuminated. Thus, for example, I would love to see a ranking of specific certification credentials held to see how those shake out. This could prove to be a valuable reality check for all the IT pros weighing the pros and cons of specific certifications, and an interesting counterbalance to the data we can (and routinely do) extract from mention of specific credentials in job postings online.