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Certification by the Numbers

Although certification vendors seem to want to keep secret the number of individuals they certify in any particular year, some are willing to share the total number of certifications earned to date. Here are some of the numbers it was possible to dig up:

  • all career designations: 500,000
  • CCIE: 11,912
  • Linux+: 5,970
  • Security+: 12,300
  • A+ 548,669
    Microsoft (as of September 2004)
  • MCSA on Windows 2000: 113,719
  • MCSE on Windows Server 2003: 21,053
  • MCSE on Windows 2000: 253,005
  • MCSE on Windows Server 2003: 11,379
  • MCP: 967,221
      ProsoftTraining CIW 80,000 (50,000 unique individuals)

The Year Ahead

What will 2005 hold for certification? It's hard to say, but there are several likely developments:

The hottest certifications will be the high end designations, such as Cisco's CCIE, Red Hat's RHCE, and Microsoft's MCSE. Internet and Web development certifications, like Sun's Java certifications, and the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) program, will also be among the most worthwhile investments. The CISSP, arguably the best value in security certification, is another top title that IT professionals can count on. All of these certifications will hold or increase their value throughout the coming year.

Entry level certifications seem to lagging a little in popularity, which is likely to continue through 2005. This is probably related to the state of the IT job market.

A number of smaller certification programs may fold in 2005, as they reach the conclusion that the cost/benefit ratio no longer justifies the expense.

Due to convenience and low cost, self study, using self-study books and practice tests will continue to rule as the most popular certification preparation tools.

Overall, don't expect a fresh surge of popularity of certification in the near future. The certification marketplace will not expand at the rate it has in the past. However, those who earn certifications that are appropriate for their career plans will continue to find them very valuable to have on a resume, as well as an important route to expanded technical expertise.

Anne Martinez is the author of Get Certified and Get Ahead, currently in its third edition, and Cheap Web Tricks: Build and Promote a Successful Web Site Without Spending A Dime. She is also the founder of, where current IT certification news and information can always be found.