The technology landscape is in constant flux in terms of which information technology (IT) certifications are in high demand. Hot specializations range from networking, cloud computing, project management, and security. Eighty percent of IT professionals say that certifications are useful for their careers, the challenge is determining which area to focus on. Let’s look at the most in-demand certifications and their corresponding salaries.
We looked at data provided by professional development solutions and course provider Global Knowledge to determine the highest-paying IT certifications in the world right now. The data is based on what Global Knowledge’s customers are studying as well as the jobs they find after they graduate. We’ve broken down the top choices based on a description of the specialization as well as a corresponding pay range. Cloud and project management certifications currently dominate the top five spots.
Kindly note that these figures change from year to year, so we’ll be updating this piece whenever Global Knowledge releases new data. Be sure to return to this list to check out which certification tops the rankings the next time you’re thinking of changing career gears.
Where to Find Online Learning Sources
For IT professionals looking for online options to take their certification courses, here are some alternative choices and what they offer.
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) is a massive on-the-job learning portal; it has 6,000 courses and many of them are focused on tech. Certifications are available for IT courses, but they usually cost extra and not all of them are accredited.
Coursera is an online learning platform boasting 3,500+ courses, many of which are affiliated with colleges and universities. Coursera has a range of accredited and non-accredited IT-focused courses available. Learners can earn college accreditation only if they are receiving a degree. But, they can earn industry credentials for non-degree work.
Udemy is another colossal online learning platform with 65,000 courses on a wide range of subjects. Udemy is popular because it offers massive discounts on courses and is one of the more affordable options for online learning. That said, Udemy enables uncredited instructors to sell courses for profit, which diminishes its credibility in more academic tracks. While it has many resources for learning programming languages, it’s a tough sell for serious IT pros looking for accredited certifications.
edX is a learning destination founded by Harvard and MIT. It has 20 million users and is offering 2,600 online courses from 140 institutions including tech giants Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM. Some of the areas of concentration at edX include a Professional Certificate in IT Project Management from UWashingtonX and Professional Certificate in Data Science for Executives from ColumbiaX.
With many of these services, you really do get what you pay for. Let’s look at what this year’s 10 highest-paying IT certifications look like.
10. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
If you work in analysis, auditing, systems engineering, or anything in between, then the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) might be the perfect certification for you. CISSPs are information assurance pros who are mainly responsible for determining the architecture, management, design, and controls that ensure the security of your company.
Should you pass the test, which requires you to have a minimum of five years of relevant experience, you can look forward to the average pay of $116,900 per year. It’s worth noting that, even after getting the certification, you will still need to receive Continuing Education credits each year to maintain your credentials.
9. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
Take the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) exam and you’ll be tested in four major areas: Identification, Assessment, Response, and Mitigation, as well as Control Monitoring and Reporting. If you have the prerequisite three years of relevant experience, and identifying and managing risks sounds interesting to you, then the CRISC certification might be worth checking out.
If you pass the exam and find a role, pros with the CRISC certification earn an average of $117,395 per year. The test has 150 questions and lasts roughly four hours.
8. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
A Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)’s main focus is on information security management. Your job will be to design and engineer security protocols as well as manage a company’s security. As CISM, you’ll have access to lines of business outside of IT, putting you face to face with company stakeholders. Registration is via the ISACA website as well as this exam locator.
CISMs are well-paid, too. On average, Global Knowledge says you can make an average of $118,412 per year as a CISM. However, if you choose to go down this route, then you’ll have to take a 200-question test on topics such as information security governance, information risk management, and incident management.
7. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
New to the top 10 this year, the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is the most widely accepted framework for IT management in the world. It has held this distinction for the past 30 years. Covering a set of best practices for providing IT services with the needs of organizations, it is a wide-ranging discipline covering a laundry list of important specializations such as IT operations, incident management, capacity management, and availability, to name a few. Best practices aim to control or reduce IT costs, improve IT services, and balance IT resources.
The ITIL Foundation is the starting point for the certification and offers a general understanding of the IT service lifecycle. ITIL Foundation-certified managers earn an average of $120,566 annually.
6. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure
While this certification was retired in 2017, IT pros who previously earned it will see it remain in their records. It’s now been replaced by the “MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure” certification. There are various tracks to consider in this new course depending on your company’s focus or desired area of expertise. Training recommendations include Microsoft Certified: Azure Administration Associate, Azure Developer Associate, and Azure Solutions Architect Expert. Cloud Platform and Infrastructure-certified MCSEs earn an average of $121,288 per year.
5. AWS Certified Developer – Associate
Always a popular option, the AWS Certified Developer certification validates your technical experience in developing and maintaining applications on the Amazon Web Services ($6,415.00 at Amazon) platform. You’ll be tested on your judgment in choosing the right AWS services for apps, mastery of the platform’s software development kits (SDKs), and knowledge of code-level app security.
The exam consists of multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions, and you will have 80 minutes to complete it. Prerequisites include one year or more of hands-on experience with AWS and in-depth knowledge of at least one high-level programming language. Should you be successful, AWS Certified Developers earn an average of $130,369 per year.
4. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification is back on the list this year, after a brief haitus off it last year. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect exam tests your expertise in designing systems on AWS. If you have hands-on experience with AWS services and are used to architecting large-scale distributed systems, then this certification may be exactly what you’re looking for. The exam takes 80 minutes and is administered at PSI centers across the United States. Successful AWS Certified Solutions Architects can make an average of $132,840 per year.
3. Certified ScrumMaster
The Certified ScrumMaster is one of the more popular project management certifications that’s available today. Scrum refers to a style of management in which teams have a huddle meeting every morning to review progress, with adjustments being made every day to ensure all team members are working as productively and efficiently as possible. Getting certified means attending a two-day workshop course followed by an exam containing anywhere from 24 to 35 questions. Should you succeed, Certified ScrumMasters earn an average of $135,441 per year.
2. Project Management Professional (PMP)
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification was created and administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is one of the most recognized project management certifications available today. This certification demonstrates that you are competent when it comes to managing projects and project teams. You will be tested in five specific areas: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.
Before you become certified, however, you’ll need to have completed at least 35 hours of related training before you can take the exam. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, then you’ll also need 4,500 hours of project management experience (those without a degree will need 7,500 hours). Getting PMP certification takes years but it’s worth it. PMPs currently earn an average of $135,798 per year.
1. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Debuting in 2017 and making it to the top of the list this year is the Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect, the discipline that allows IT pros to certify as cloud architects on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Completing this certification ensures you’ll have the capacity to design, develop, and manage Google’s cloud architecture using GCP technologies.
Earning this certification entails a deep knowledge of what solutions to apply in different scenarios. Cloud skills are in high demand and mastering Google’s tools for secure, scalable, and reliable solutions will be critical to most organizations for the foreseeable future. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architects can expect to earn an average of $139,529 per year.
Have any questions you need answered about the top IT certifications? Join the [email protected] business community on LinkedIn, and you can ask vendors, other pros like yourself, and PCMag’s editors