It’s clear that there’s a growing demand for qualified computer scientists – as well as professionals in related fields – throughout the world. In the U.S. alone, the field is expected to grow by 15% between 2021 and 2031, with approximately 377,500 job openings per year. Europe is no different. For instance, the European artificial intelligence (AI) industry is projected to achieve an average annual growth of 15.87% between 2024 and 2030, creating a multi-billion dollar industry in the process.
With such explosive growth, one would assume that getting a job in the tech field should be straightforward as long as a student has the appropriate skills.
That’s often not the case.
Though companies have a large appetite for talented and tech-literate students, they typically want to see industry certifications to bolster their formal education qualifications. Here, you’ll discover the impact these certifications can have on your career. Plus, you’ll learn which certifications are the most desirable and how OPIT’s degree programs align with those certifications.
How do Industry Certifications Help?
We start with the big question – are computing industry certifications even relevant?
After all, as a student, you’re already working towards a degree that provides proof that you’re capable in various technical fields. But even with that degree, you may find that employers favor those with specific certifications.
Here are some of the most important reasons.
Showcasing a Willingness to Learn
Obtaining specific certifications outside of your degree shows that you’re willing to continue your education beyond your formal studies. That’s vital. The computer science fields evolve so rapidly that what you learn as part of a degree may be obsolete – or, at best, outdated – within a few years. If you’re not doing everything you can to adapt to these changes, you get left behind. When an employer compares two candidates with the same degree against one another, they’ll invariably go for the one who shows more commitment to keeping their skills sharp.
That’s not all.
Industry certifications also show employers that you can take the theoretical knowledge you develop during a degree into real-life practice. Hence the “industry” part of the phrase. That also leads to the second reason why certifications are so crucial.
Certifications Prepare You for the World of Work
Though a degree program may attempt to emulate real-world environments, it may not fully set you up for the demands industry places on you. You’re working for yourself, rather than a company. Plus, the odds are that your degree may not cover specific applications of your knowledge that would be useful in a real-world setting.
When studying for industry certifications, you engage with courses developed by people who have worked for companies that are like – or adjacent to – the types of companies for which you intend to work. That’s crucial. A certification can prepare you for specific duties or roles you’d be expected to take during your career. The result is that the working world is less of a shock to the system for the student who achieves a certification than it would be for somebody who transitions directly from a degree into industry.
Validation of What You’ve Learned
Validation through industry certifications works on two levels.
For the student, completion of certification serves as proof to themselves that they can put what they’ve learned during their degree course into action. Should you take a certification, you’ll be confronted with real-world scenarios and, often, be tasked with coming up with solutions to problems that real companies faced in the past. When you pass, you’ll know that you have verified proof of your competency within the context of working for a company.
That’s where the second level comes in – validation to a potential employer.
A degree is far from worthless to a potential employer. Most require them for any technical role, meaning you must complete your formal education. However, employers are also aware that many degree programs don’t prepare students for the realities of industry. So, a student who only has a degree on their resume may fall by the wayside compared to one who has an industry certification.
Those who do have certifications, however, have proof of their competency that validates them in the eyes of employers.
The Most Valuable Industry Certifications for Computer Science Students
With the value of industry certifications to supplement your degree established, the next question is obvious:
Which certifications are the most valuable?
You may have dozens to choose from, with the obvious answer being that the certification that’s best for you is the one that most closely aligns with the field you intend to enter. Still, the following are some of the most popular among computing students and recent graduates.
Prince 2 Foundation
Where your degree equips you with computer science fundamentals, the PRINCE2 Foundation course focuses on project management. It can be taken as a three-day course – virtually or in a classroom – that teaches the titular method for overseeing complex projects. Beyond the three-day intensive versions of the course, you can also take an online self-guided version that grants you a 12-month license to the course’s materials.
CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management)
Again focusing on project management, the CAPM can be an alternative or a complement to a PRINCE2 certification. The 150-question exam covers predictive planning methodologies, Agile frameworks, and business analysis. Plus, it’s available in several major European languages, as well as Japanese and Arabic.
Network implementation, operations, and security are the focuses of this course, which equips you with networking skills that apply to almost any industry system. Consider this course if you wish to enter a career in network security, IT support, or if you have designs on becoming a data architect.
AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials
Offered via several platforms, including Amazon Web Services and Coursera, the AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials course does exactly what it says:
Teaches you the foundations of the AWS cloud.
You’re paired with an expert instructor, who teaches you about the AWS Well-Architected Framework and the models relevant to the AWS cloud. It’s a good choice not just for computer science students, but those who intend to enter the sales, marketing, or project management spheres.
AWS Certified Developer Associate
Where the above course teaches the fundamentals of the AWS cloud, this one hones in on developing platforms within the AWS framework. It’s recommended that you take the essentials course first, gaining experience with AWS tech in the process, and have knowledge of at least one programming language. The latter can come from your degree.
All of the course resources are free, though you do have to pay a fee of $150 to take the 65-question exam related to the certification.
CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional)
Cybersecurity is the focus of the CISSP, with successful students developing proven skills in designing, implementing, and managing high-end cybersecurity programs. You also become an ISC2 member when you receive your CISSP, giving you access to further educational tools and an expansive network you can use to further your career.
CISM (Certified Information Security Manager)
Like the CISSP, the CISM is for any student who wants to enter the growing field of cybersecurity. It covers many of the same topics, with the program’s website claiming that 42% of its students received a pay increase upon successful completion of the course.
CRISC (Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control)
Though adjacent to the two cybersecurity programs above, the CRISC focuses more on risk management in the context of IT systems. You’ll learn how to enhance – and demonstrate said enhancement of – business resilience, as well as how to incorporate risk management into the Agile methodology.
CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker)
When companies implement cybersecurity programs, they need to test them against the hackers that they’re trying to keep away from their data. Enter ethical hackers – professionals who use the same tricks that malicious hackers use to identify issues in a network. With the CEH, you gain an industry qualification that showcases your hacking credentials as it delivers experience in over 500 unique attack types.
Agile and Scrum Certifications
Both Agile and Scrum are management frameworks that have become extremely popular in the computer science field, making certifications in either extremely valuable. The idea with these certifications is to build your technical expertise into an established methodology. For context to why that’s important, consider this – 71% of American companies now use the Agile methodology due to its high success rate.
Where Do OPIT’s Courses Fit In?
If you’re a current or prospective OPIT student, you need to know one thing:
An OPIT degree isn’t the same as one of these industry certifications.
However, all OPIT degree programs are designed to align with the teachings of these certifications. They’re created by professionals who have industry experience – and can build real-world projects into their courses – to ensure that you leave OPIT with more than theoretical knowledge.
Instead, you’ll have a foundation of practical skills to go along with your technical talents, preparing you to take any of these industry certifications later in your career. For instance, our MSc in Enterprise Cybersecurity degree aligns with the CISM and CISSP certifications, meaning you’ll be well-prepared for the concepts introduced in those courses.
An OPIT degree complements the certifications you may need later in your career. If you’re not already an OPIT student, check out our range of online courses – all of which are EU-accredited and career-aligned – to take your first step toward a career in computer science.
In this unite.ai article, Riccardo Ocleppo, Founder & Director of the Open Institute of Technology (OPIT), leverages his experience from Docsity to revolutionize higher education. OPIT aims to innovate and modernize education by offering high-quality tech degrees at an affordable price. It prioritizes hands-on learning to bridge the theory-practice gap and fosters diverse skill sets and networking opportunities.
Discover OPIT’s innovative approach, which includes embedding AI across all its degree programs, in the full article at unite.ai: https://www.unite.ai/riccardo-ocleppo-founder-director-of-opit-interview-series/
The Open Institute of Technology (OPIT) is a unique institution through and through. From an unparalleled support team that guides you every step of the way to state-of-the-art virtual resources, OPIT redefines online learning. This institution also proves that online education can be as enriching as its traditional counterpart. Better yet, it can outperform it in numerous aspects.
This fact alone begs the question – how did it all begin?
To answer this question, we’ll go straight to the source – the founder of OPIT, Riccardo Ocleppo.
In this article, Riccardo will walk us through his journey of envisioning (and building) OPIT and transforming online education in the process.
The Pre-OPIT Years: Where It All Began
To understand how Riccardo came up with the idea for OPIT, we must travel back to the year 2006. That’s when Riccardo graduated from Politecnico di Torino with a bachelor’s in electronics engineering.
This institution is arguably the most prestigious in Italy (and one of the most reputable in Europe). So, it shouldn’t be surprising that Riccardo chose to continue his education here, pursuing a master’s degree.
He completed the master’s program in 2008 and did so with honors.
Yet, Riccardo couldn’t shake the impression that it was all in vain. In his words, “When I left the university, I had the impression that I could do very little, and I knew very little that could help me in my professional endeavors.”
But Riccardo decided not to sit idly by.
He saw it this way – it might be too late for him, as he was done with his studies. But it’s certainly not too late for future students who deserve a better education. That’s why, only two years later, in 2010, he founded Docsity.
Docsity is an online social learning network with over 20 million registered students. Thanks to this network, over 250 universities worldwide received help in improving their study programs (and finding students).
Docsity also gave Riccardo a chance to fully immerse himself into the education sector for over a decade, finding new ways to reform it from within.
OPIT’s Inception: From Vision to Reality
With the knowledge (and the resources) from Docsity, Riccardo started working on a platform designed to provide the kind of education he wished he had received. The platform in question was, of course, the Open Institute of Technology.
The primary goal of OPIT was to bridge the gap between “what students expect, what companies need, and what higher-level institutions actually deliver in terms of training and education.”
From Riccardo’s experience, this gap was pretty huge. Remember that even with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electronics engineering, he felt he had little to offer to companies.
This perceived shortcoming primarily comes from the fact he received a lot of theory at the university but very little practice. And that’s not to mention how outdated the curriculum was, as well as laser-focused on electronics engineering. In other words, bid farewell to “competencies on the most recent technologies and project management methodologies.”
This perspective made him determined to create a holistic educational solution. Or, as Riccardo puts it, “When designing OPIT’s degree programs to address the skills in high demand today, we chose to start from scratch to go beyond the limits of traditional higher education.”
At OPIT, you’ll receive valuable knowledge beyond theory. Essentially, OPIT equips you with everything you need to enter the job market, ready to excel in your field from day one (or day zero, as Riccardo calls it!).
Tailored for Triumph: OPIT’s Unique Programs
Designing any online curriculum is no easy task. However, the computer science field comes with its unique set of challenges. Why?
This field is constantly evolving. That’s what makes it difficult for most traditional higher education institutions to keep up. As Riccardo puts it, “[These institutions] are very slow to adapt to this wave of new technologies and new trends within the educational sector.” Of course, thanks to Docsity, Riccardo speaks from extensive experience, as he’s seen “multiple times how difficult it is to help these institutions update their study curriculum.”
Companies have it no easier.
Riccardo says, “A company needs one to two years to make people that should be trained on today’s technologies and on today’s skills effectively enter the job market and be productive when they enter these companies.”
Again, Riccardo speaks from personal experience. As a founder of a tech company (and a manager in others), he was tasked with creating and managing big tech teams on several occasions. However, despite interviewing hundreds of candidates, he couldn’t find those trained in today’s technologies, not those from 20 years ago.
With this in mind, he designed OPIT’s curriculum to effectively “train the next generation of leaders and managers in the field of computer science.” Many people helped him in this endeavor, chief among them Professor Francesco Profumo, current head of institution at OPIT and former Minister of Education in Italy.
This unique approach makes OPIT’s programs different in terms of how they’ve been conceived and how they’ll be delivered.
Take the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Modern Computer Science program as an example.
Riccardo says that to be a great programmer, “you cannot just dive into programming itself.” First, you must understand how a computer is built and how its various units operate and communicate. This way, you’ll have no issues debugging a code in the future since you’ll understand the underlying mechanisms.
These underlying systems and foundational skills are precisely what is taught during the first term of the modern computer science program. Afterward, you’ll move toward the latest advancements in computer science, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, data science, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. This way, you’ll have quite a broad perspective on computer science, rarely seen in other educational programs, online or offline.
It also means you won’t have to specialize in a particular field, as you’re forced to do with many other programs. In Riccardo’s opinion, the master’s degree is where you should begin your specialization journey.
OPIT offers as many as four master’s degree programs, but Riccardo focuses on Applied Data Science & AI this time.
In Riccardo’s words, “The whole purpose of this [program] is actually to train people that do not want to pursue a super technical career but actually want to pursue a career at the intersection between the tech and the management of a company.” In other words, individuals who complete this program will acquire all the necessary tech skills. However, they’ll also be able to ensure the tech team is “correctly understood by the management of the company,” thanks to the managerial skills earned during the program.
Of course, this program also covers all the essential theoretical knowledge, from Python to machine learning. But it also has a solid applicative angle, teaching students how to use the most valuable tools available in today’s market. Simply put, you’re training “for what you’ll be doing when you enter your next job.”
Breaking the Mold: What Sets OPIT Apart
The unique curriculum isn’t the only thing that sets OPIT apart from other higher education institutions in the same field. Here’s what Riccardo singles out as OPIT’s most appealing characteristics.
Learning at your own pace can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you have all the flexibility and freedom to organize your studies (and life). On the other, you might start procrastinating without a traditional daily commitment of in-classroom learning.
OPIT ensures this unfortunate scenario never happens by doing away with one big final exam you must cram for. Instead, you’ll be continuously assessed throughout the program, allowing you a much better approach to learning and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
As Riccardo puts it, OPIT will give you “multiple checkpoints,” preventing you from getting “lost” throughout the learning process.
New Learning Resources
According to Riccardo, most of today’s available resources were created for the “oldest wave of education.” That’s why he (and his team) created all OPIT resources and learning materials from scratch, giving you a fresh perspective on the tech world. These resources also come in the form of engaging videos, which are short enough to keep you fully focused yet detailed enough to provide a deep understanding of the topic.
Let’s not sugarcoat it – modern resources mean nothing if the professors teaching them still stick to old-school principles and approaches. Luckily, this isn’t the case with OPIT’s faculty.
Every member of this faculty has been carefully selected based on their academic expertise, business experience, and global perspective. These professors aim to “help you learn in a more engaging and interesting way,” as Riccardo puts it.
He also adds that OPIT’s faculty breaks away from the common saying in academics, “Those who can’t do, teach.” In his words, “We didn’t want to have people that can teach because they cannot do,” so that’s the standard he prioritized when bringing people on board.
Future-Proof Your Career
Now that you know the fascinating tale of OPIT’s conception, all that’s left to do is to get in touch with our team of experts and take the first step in future-proofing your career. As you’ve already seen, OPIT will take care of most of the subsequent steps. All you need is a desire to learn and an interest in developing new skills, and success is imminent.