When viewing certifications as an investment in your career and future, it makes logical sense to focus your attention on those that will benefit you the most. You most likely want a certification that will deliver a significant ROI.
With that in mind, this article lists the top five highest paying IT certifications. The salary information listed in this piece was provided by Global Knowledge, a business and IT skills training provider. The original data came from US and Canadian workers. But based on the roles we recruit for at Venturi, the salary estimates are also a close match for IT professionals in the UK and Europe.
Average salaries were calculated based on what current Global Knowledge customers are studying and the kind of work they move on to when they graduate. If you are interested in any of the certifications below then Global Knowledge’s website is a great place to go for further information and resources to help get you get certified. Here are the twenty highest paying certifications:
- Project Management Professional (PMP) – £84,567
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional – £86,135
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – £88,514
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – £90,640
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control – £92,906
- Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect – £115,581
- Certified ScrumMaster® – £112,195
- AWS Certified Developer – Associate – £107,993
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure – £100,471
- ITIL® Foundation – £99,873
- CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker – £96,344
- Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V) – £93,971
- CompTIA Security+ – £91,386
- CompTIA Network+ – £88,753
- Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching – £88,599
Project Management Professional (PMP) – £84,567
Average US Salary: $119,349
Many IT professionals gravitate towards the PMP certification as it gives them a chance to apply their skills across a wide variety of industries. Virtually all companies now have a digital footprint. Being able to apply tried and tested project management principles to that footprint will give you a solid foot in the door across almost any industry. It also gives you the opportunity to move into management-level positions.
Certified PMP professionals are typically responsible for managing IT-focused teams and tasks. This is particularly true when it comes to large projects like hardware and software rollouts or app integrations. The role of the PMP holder is to ensure these projects run to schedule and remain within budget. At present, there are nearly 730,000 active PMPs worldwide, scattered throughout all industries. This certification has been in the top ten list for years, and will likely continue to hold a place there.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional – £86,135
Average US salary: $121,729
CISSP, offered by globally recognised security training provider (ISC)2, is designed to demonstrate comprehensive security expertise. This includes risk management, communications and network security, software development security, asset security, security engineering, identity and access management, security assessment and testing, and security operations.
CISSP holders have demonstrated that they are capable of designing, engineering, and maintaining a company’s IT security policy. The test consists of 250 multiple-choice and drag and drop questions. In order to pass the test, you’ll need a score of 700 or better, which is no mean feat. CISSP is unique among the highest paying IT certifications in that it doesn’t demand a substantial level of experience from the outset. Professionals can earn an associate credential while they work on the required experience. This makes it a good option for those looking to break into the security field.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – £88,514
Average US salary: $125,091
This IT certification is designed for people who design and manage applications on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform. The certification demonstrates competency in designing and deploying scalable solutions on AWS. Eligible candidates need to have one year of AWS experience and demonstrated proficiency in at least one major programming language. The exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, and must be completed in less than 80 minutes.
Only 10,000 people have earned this certification, and, given the popularity of the AWS platform, they can command a high salary. When it comes to cloud computing, having a solutions architect who can put together not just the workload, but an end-to-end solution is a highly valuable asset. With more and more companies leveraging the cloud in their digital transformation process the value of this certification is unlikely to fall anytime soon. It will be one of the highest paying IT certifications for years to come.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – £90,640
Average US salary: $128,156
Unlike the CISSP, the CISM is more specifically geared towards information security management. It places emphasis on security strategy best practices as well as assessing existing systems and policies. Essentially this certification is aimed at people who want to take a leading role in managing a company’s security. Professionals in that kind of role routinely interact with departments outside IT to ensure that overall business goals can be achieved while maintaining a secure state.
The test consists of 200 multiple-choice questions and candidates also have to show evidence of at least five years of relevant work experience. Although the CISM certificate was first introduced in 2002, only 32,000 now hold it. This isn’t much compared to the other highest paying IT certifications. In this regard, CISM is representative of a highly desired skill-set that is in short supply.
Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control – £92,906
Average US salary: $131,298
CRISC, offered by the nonprofit ISACA, is designed for IT professionals, project managers and others whose job it is to identify and manage risks through Information Systems controls. The exam consists of 150 multiple-choice questions and centres around four main risk subject areas: identification, assessment, response and mitigation, and control monitoring and reporting. Only 20,000 people worldwide hold this certification making it in short supply. Of those who have earned it, 96% keep it updated – a real testament to its value.
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Average US salary: $139,529
This 2017 certification allows IT professionals to certify themselves as a cloud architect on the GCP platform. If you’ve got this certificate then you can design, develop and manage a secure, scalable and reliable cloud architecture using Google Cloud Platform (GCP) technologies.
Cloud jobs pay over $100,000 a year in the U.S. and demand doesn’t yet meet supply for these roles.
Average US salary: $135,441
Achieving a Certified ScrumMaster certificate validates that you understand the Agile Scrum methodology and are well-versed in putting scrum into practice.
You’ll lead the scrum team and ensure that they follow the methodology to the letter.
AWS Certified Developer – Associate
Average US salary: $130,369
Getting the AWS certificate demonstrates that you have the ability to efficiently use AWS SDKs to interact with services from within applications and write code that optimizes AWS application performance.
Remaining competitive in AWS is key and, as such, an increased popularity in AWS certifications has followed. Running parallel to this is the growth in IoT (Internet of Things) and mobile development, much of which is backed by resources in the cloud.
This certificate is intended for individuals who perform a development role and have one or more years of hands-on experience developing and maintaining an AWS-based application.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure
Average US salary: $121,288
The MCSE proves a candidates ability to build innovative cloud and on-premises solutions.
Average US salary: $120,566
ITIL Foundation is the entry-level ITIL certification and enables candidates to look at IT Service Management through an end-to-end operating model for the creation, delivery and continual improvement of tech-enabled products and services.
CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker
Average US salary: $116,306
The exam is designed to test a candidate’s abilities to prod for holes, weaknesses and vulnerabilities in a company’s network defenses using techniques and methods that hackers employ.
Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V)
Average US salary: $113,442
The CCA-V certification covers the basics of managing, maintaining, monitoring and troubleshooting. It is designed for desktop and application administrators and the technical support staff that support those users and is an entry-level certification for Citrix.
Individuals pursuing the Citrix Certified Associate– Virtualization (CCA – V) certification will have the option of selecting one of two exams to validate their knowledge, skills and experience until September 25, 2019.
- 1Y0-203 Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop 7.15 Administration exam OR
- 1Y0-204 Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops 7 Administration exam
Average US salary: $110,321
CompTIA Security+ establishes the core knowledge required of any cybersecurity role and provides a springboard to intermediate-level cybersecurity jobs.
Average US salary: $107,143
Network+ ensures an IT professional has the knowledge and skills to:
- Design and implement functional networks
- Configure, manage, and maintain essential network devices
- Use devices such as switches and routers to segment network traffic and create resilient networks
- Identify benefits and drawbacks of existing network configurations
- Implement network security, standards, and protocols
- Troubleshoot network problems
- Support the creation of virtualized networks
Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching
Average US salary: $106,957
The Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching certification is an advanced certification that ensures network engineers and administrators have the skills to plan, implement, verify and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks.
When deciding which certification to go for, plan out what you are passionate about and keep an eye toward the future. With companies updating their platforms faster than ever before, it’s helpful to have an understanding of product life cycles. This will help give you a better picture of the likely value of the certification in the near future. For example, infrastructure certifications are less popular now because many companies have outsourced that work to cloud providers. Knowing where the tech market is heading will help you decide on which career paths will be most important, like cloud, security, and software development. As you can see, the list above was dominated by security certifications. This is unsurprising given the chronic skills shortage in the security sector.
But keep in mind that certifications aren’t the be all and end all. Many individuals have very successful careers in IT without a single certification. Most employers are more interested in a candidate’s ability to apply the knowledge that the certification represents, rather than the certification itself. However, investing the required time into earning a certification shows you’ve made a commitment to progress down a particular key path. Just make sure you aren’t simply memorising things in order to pass a test. To get the most out of a certification, you should actively seek out opportunities to apply the knowledge you are learning in real-world scenarios.
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