Information technology (IT) professionals can pursue different qualifications to expand their skills and demonstrate they have the most up-to-date knowledge, distinguishing them from other candidates for jobs or for particular projects within the company where they work.
For those wishing to update their knowledge of a specific product, a range of certificates are available. Edmond Pang, managing consultant of IT recruitment at recruitment firm Hays, says that most first-tier software companies offer certification tailored to the specific products they produce.
"This tells the employer the candidate has been through an intense training course and passed tests to become a qualified IT specialist for that particular IT product, IT methodology or IT concept or practice," he says.
"The certification also shows the initiative that a candidate has taken to become a more knowledgeable or recognisable IT professional."
Which certificate a person should take, Pang says, depends on the nature of the company they work for or their own career aspirations. Those working in network and infrastructure may want to consider certifications from Microsoft, Citrix, VMware, Cisco or Novell.
Others looking to step from these roles to project management positions may wish to take relevant courses or certifications such as PMI, PMBOK and PRINCE2.
By obtaining the qualifications, Pang says IT professionals are able to ensure they come across to employers as the best qualified to work on a particular product.
While that doesn't normally lead to a pay rise or promotion, he says it will make the candidates the preferred choice when it comes to a specific project which requires that technology or methodology. He adds that these qualifications are "a bonus point" compared with commercial experience, as employers prefer working knowledge of the product.
In addition to the programmes offered by companies, IT professionals can enrol in graduate programmes provided by local universities.
Baptist University offers a master of science in information technology management which aims to educate candidates about designing, developing and managing IT systems.
The School of Professional and Continuing Education at the University of Hong Kong offers a master of information technology, designed for candidates whose work involves using computers for data processing and information management.