In the ever-evolving world of information technology (IT), staying ahead of the competition requires continuous learning and upskilling. Earning IT certifications not only enhance your knowledge but also validates your expertise in specific areas of technology. While there are numerous certifications available, some stand out as the most challenging and rewarding to achieve. It is important that you know which certifications are hard so you can prepare them with keen focus.
In this blog, we will explore the 10 hardest IT certifications of 2023 that demand dedication, skill, and determination. It is also a valid claim that the hardest certifications provide bright future opportunities. 98% of professionals are successful in earning a good job position by earning any of these credentials. Further in this blog, you will also learn the reasons why these certifications are difficult and the ways to ensure that you pass them successfully.
1. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
CISSP is considered the gold standard in the field of cybersecurity. This certification requires a deep understanding of security policies, practices, and principles. The exam covers eight domains, including security and risk management, asset security, security architecture, and more. CISSP is a grueling test of knowledge and experience and is highly regarded in the cybersecurity industry.
Exam Code: CISSP
Length of exam: 4 hours
Number of items: 125 – 175
Item format: Multiple choice and advanced innovative items
Passing grade: 700 out of 1000 points
Exam language availability: English
Testing center: (ISC)2 Authorized PPC and PVTC Select Pearson VUE Testing Centers
2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
CISM is designed for IT professionals who are responsible for managing an enterprise’s information security. The exam tests candidates’ knowledge of information risk management, information security governance, incident management, and program development and management. With a low pass rate, achieving CISM certification is a significant achievement.
Exam Code: CISM
Exam Length: 4 hours
Number of questions: 150 questions
Type of questions: Multiple-choice
Languages: Chinese Simplified, English, Spanish, Japanese
3. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
Cisco’s CCIE is a prestigious and challenging certification for network engineers. Candidates must pass a hands-on lab exam that tests their ability to design, implement, and troubleshoot complex networking solutions. CCIE exam demands not only technical expertise but also the ability to handle real-world networking challenges effectively.
4. Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect - Professional (AWS CSA-Pro)
As the leading cloud services provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers a range of certifications. The AWS CSA-Pro is the most advanced, focusing on designing and deploying scalable, fault-tolerant, and highly available systems on the AWS platform. This certification requires in-depth knowledge of various AWS services and architectures.
Exam Code: AWS CSA PRO
Length: 180 minutes to complete the exam
Cost: 300 USD
Format: 75 questions, either multiple-choice or multiple response
Languages: English, French (France), German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Simplified Chinese, and Spanish (Latin America)
5. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Similar to AWS, Google Cloud also offers challenging certifications. The Professional Cloud Architect certification tests candidates on their ability to design and manage robust Google Cloud Platform (GCP) solutions. As GCP continues to gain popularity, this certification has become highly sought-after.
Exam Code: Professional Cloud Architect
Exam format: 50-60 multiple choice and multiple select questions
Exam Length: 2 hours
Registration fee: $200 (plus tax where applicable)
Languages: English, Japanese
6. Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)
RHCA is the pinnacle of Red Hat certifications, showcasing expertise in Red Hat Enterprise Linux and various other Red Hat technologies. The RHCA certification requires passing multiple rigorous exams, demonstrating mastery of complex system administration tasks and enterprise-level solutions.
You need to pass any 5 of these exams:
- EX188 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Containers exam
- EX210 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Cloud Infrastructure
- EX240 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in API Management
- EX248 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Enterprise Application Server Administration exam
- EX260 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ceph Cloud Storage exam
- EX280 – Red Hat Certified OpenShift Administrator exam
- EX288 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Application Development exam
- EX316 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Virtualization
- EX318 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Virtualization
- EX328 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Building Resilient Microservices exam
- EX342 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Linux Diagnostics and Troubleshooting
- EX358 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Services Management and Automation exam
- EX362 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Identity Management
- EX370 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Data Foundation exam
- EX374 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Developing Automation with Ansible Automation Platform exam
- EX380 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in OpenShift Automation and Integration exam
- EX403 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Deployment and Systems Management exam
- EX415 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Security: Linux exam
- EX436 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in High Availability Clustering exam
- EX440 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Messaging Administration exam
- EX442 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Linux Performance Tuning exam
- EX447 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Advanced Automation: Ansible Best Practices
- EX457 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Ansible Network Automation exam
- EX467 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in Managing Automation with Ansible Automation Platform exam
- EX480 – Red Hat Certified Specialist in MultiCluster Management exam
7. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
CEH is an IT certification designed for professionals who want to master ethical hacking techniques. This certification explores the mindset of malicious hackers to counter their attacks effectively. It covers a broad range of topics, including reconnaissance, social engineering, penetration testing, and more.
Exam Code: CEH
- CEH Knowledge Exam
Exam time: 4 hours
Number of questions: 125 multiple-choice questions
- CEH Practical Exam
Exam time: 6 hours
Number of questions: 20 scenario-based questions
8. Project Management Professional (PMP)
While not purely an IT certification, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is highly valuable for IT professionals managing complex projects. The PMP exam assesses candidates’ knowledge of project management processes, tools, and techniques, demanding extensive preparation and experience.
Exam Code: PMP
Number of questions: 180 questions out of which 5 questions are pretest/unscored
Exam time: 230 minutes.
For Members: $284
For Non-members cost: is $389
9. Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert is an advanced certification that tests the ability of a candidate to design cloud and hybrid solutions in computing, network, monitoring, security and storage. This certification is best for learning IT operations, including networking, virtualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data platforms, and governance.
Exam Name: Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Exam Code: Az-305
Exam cost: $165
Number of questions: 40-60 questions
Type of questions: Multiple choice questions
Exam time: 150 minutes
Languages: English, Japanese, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese (Brazil), Arabic (Saudi Arabia), Russian, Chinese (Traditional), Italian, Indonesian (Indonesia)
10. Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE)
With data privacy becoming a crucial concern, the CDPSE certification addresses the need for professionals who can design and implement data privacy solutions. This certification assesses candidates’ ability to manage and protect data privacy across various IT environments.
Exam Code: CDPSE
Exam time: 210 minutes
Number of questions: 120 questions
Type of questions: Multiple-choice questions
Exam language: Chinese Simplified, English, Spanish, German (New for 2023)
Factors that Contribute to The Hardness of IT Certifications
IT certifications are considered challenging for several reasons. Learning these factors will be useful in avoiding the chance of failing the exam. The following are the factors that contribute to the difficulty of the certifications.
- Comprehensive Knowledge
IT certifications typically require a comprehensive understanding of complex technologies, concepts, and practices within a specific domain. Candidates need to delve deep into various topics to demonstrate their expertise.
- Rapidly Evolving Technology
The IT industry is constantly evolving, with new technologies, tools, and best practices emerging regularly. Certifications need to stay relevant, leading to frequent updates and revisions, making it challenging for candidates to keep up with the latest trends.
- Practical Application
Many IT certifications include practical components, such as hands-on labs or simulations, to test candidates’ ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios. This practical aspect demands a higher level of skill and problem-solving capabilities.
- Rigorous Exams
The exams for IT certifications are often designed to be rigorous and challenging to ensure that only the most competent candidates earn the certification. Questions may be complex and require critical thinking, analysis, and in-depth knowledge.
- Experience Requirements
Some IT certifications, especially advanced ones, mandate a minimum level of work experience in the respective field. Meeting these prerequisites adds to the difficulty, as candidates must gain practical experience before attempting the certification.
- Extensive Coverage
Certifications may cover a wide range of topics and subdomains within a particular IT discipline. The breadth of coverage demands substantial preparation and a deep understanding of each area.
- Time and Resource Investment
Preparing for IT certifications often requires significant time and resource investment. Candidates must devote countless hours to study, practice, and research to master the subject matter.
- High Cost
The difficulty of IT certifications is also partly due to the high stakes involved. Achieving a certification can significantly impact one’s career prospects and earning potential. Additionally, the cost of registering for exams and obtaining study materials can be substantial.
- Constant Learning
IT professionals need to embrace continuous learning to stay competitive. However, this constant learning can also make earning certifications more challenging, as candidates must balance their existing workload with preparation efforts.
- Niche Specialization
Some IT certifications focus on niche areas of technology, which may have limited resources or study materials available. Candidates must demonstrate a high level of self-reliance and resourcefulness to access relevant information.
Despite these challenges, IT certifications offer significant benefits, including career advancement, professional recognition, and improved job opportunities. The difficulty of obtaining these certifications serves as a testament to an individual’s commitment, knowledge, and expertise in the field, making them a valuable asset in the competitive IT industry.
Ways to Obtain IT Certifications Very Easily
Obtaining hard IT certifications can be a challenging yet rewarding journey. Lack of a proper guide can significantly reduce the chances of cracking any exam. A comprehensive guide can help you to propel in your career. To increase your chances of success and make the process more effective, follow these steps:
- Identify Your Goals
Determine which IT certifications align with your career goals and interests. Research the certifications that are relevant to your current or desired job role and the skills in demand in the IT industry.
- Plan Your Path
Create a study plan and timeline for each certification you want to pursue. Break down the topics into manageable chunks, set specific study hours each day or week, and stick to the schedule.
- Choose the Right Resources
Invest in quality study materials such as official vendor documentation, study guides, online courses, practice exams, and video tutorials. Utilize resources from reputable sources and consider joining study groups or forums for peer support.
- Hands-on Practice
For technical certifications, practical experience is crucial. Set up a lab environment to experiment with the technologies and concepts you are learning. Hands-on practice reinforces your understanding and builds confidence.
- Attend Training Courses
Consider enrolling in instructor-led training courses from certified training providers. These courses provide structured learning, access to expert instructors, and often include hands-on labs. Many vendors also provide you with free courses. You may also find free videos on the internet.
- Practice Exams
Take practice exams regularly to assess your knowledge and identify areas for improvement. Practice tests mimic the real exam experience and help you become familiar with the question format. Dumpsgate has the most appropriate and authentic practice questions.
- Review and Reinforce
Periodically review your notes and materials to reinforce your understanding. Focus on weak areas and re-attempt practice exams to track your progress.
- Stay Updated
Keep track of any updates or changes to the certification exams and adapt your study plan accordingly. Follow industry news and trends to stay informed about the latest technologies.
- Network and Collaborate
Engage with others pursuing the same certifications or those who have already obtained them. Networking can provide valuable insights, tips, and encouragement. You can join online forums and groups for this purpose.
- Simulate Exam Conditions
As the exam date approaches, simulate the exam conditions by taking practice exams under timed conditions. This helps you manage your time effectively during the actual exam.
- Take Care of Yourself
IT certification preparation can be intense, so make sure to take care of your physical and mental well-being. Get enough rest, eat healthily, and take breaks to avoid burnout. Make sure that you don’t get panic from the exam and attempt the questions with utmost attention.
- Register for the Exam
Once you feel confident in your preparation, schedule the exam. Having a specific exam date helps maintain focus and motivation during the final stages of preparation. Every vendor has its own registration process. So you must be vigilent to pass through each stage carefully.
- Review Exam Policies
Familiarize yourself with the exam policies and rules, such as permitted materials, time limits, and identification requirements. Be prepared for the exam day to minimize stress.
- On Exam Day
Stay calm, read the questions carefully, and manage your time effectively. Don’t rush, and review your answers if time allows. Sit for the exam 15 mins before the exam time. Make sure that the exam place is free from any kind of disturbance or distraction.
Read more: 9 Best IT Audit Certifications
Earning any of these ten hardest IT certifications requires dedication, hard work, and a passion for continuous learning. While challenging, these certifications can significantly boost your career prospects and establish you as an expert in your chosen field. However, preparation is key, and enrolling in reputable training courses and practice exams can greatly enhance your chances of success. So, set your sights on these challenging certifications and embark on a journey toward excellence in the dynamic world of IT.
Frequently Asked Questions
Generally, the expert level certifications are the hardest ones. To pick one credential out of the lost, Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is the hardest one.
Without any doubt, the future and the scope of the IT certifications is vast. Earning a demanding certification can help you to grab a good job opportunity. You will be able to earn higher salaries. Gaining the appropriate credential can secure your future as it polishes your skills.
The time taken to prepare for an IT certification depends on the certification that you are taking. Usually, the fundamental certifications take a few days. The associate certifications may take a few weeks. However, the advance level certifications may take a few to several weeks. Your working niche and prior experience greatly affects the preparation time.