Last year several of our most popular columns looked at IT certifications, so we’re happy to again bring our readers this year’s 15 Top-Paying IT Certifications developed by Global Knowledge, a leading learning services and professional development solutions provider. For their 2016 IT Skills and Salary Survey they surveyed IT professionals nationwide, so variations will exist based on where you work, your years of experience and the type of company you work for. To make this list, a certification had to have at least 100 survey responses to ensure that the data was statistically accurate and the affiliated certification exam had to be available at the time of the survey.
What this means is that making or not making the list may be a reflection of meeting only one of the two criteria, i.e., you need both the numbers and the salary to be in the top 15. Some certifications pay the same or more as many on this list, but they don’t make the cut due to their more exclusive nature. There are others that are more popular, A+, CCNA Routing and Switching, Network+, and Security+ are held by many more professionals than #14 ITIL V3 Foundation for example, but since they pay in the $70-80,000 range, simply didn’t make the top 15.
This underscores though, that there are some great certifications that are widely held, pay pretty well, and are ideal foundations on which to build specialization as your career progresses. The list gives some insight into what types of certifications are valued, where demand exists, and where hiring is robust.
Here’s the list:
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate $125,871
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) $122,954
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) $122,291
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) $121,923
- Project Management Professional (PMP®) $116,094
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) $113,320
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) Routing and Switching $112,858
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Data Center $107,045
- Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) $105,008
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) $103,297
- Six Sigma Green Belt $102,594
- Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V) $102,138
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Security $101,414
- ITIL® v3 Foundation $99,869
- VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) $99,334
Some notable trends:
- The rise in salaries – last year 6 of the 15 jobs had a median pay of $100,000 or more. This year 13 of the 15 do. 11 certifications recur from last year, all with increased salaries. This is in keeping with IT salary trends in general. The basic laws of supply and demand are at work in driving compensation up. Companies need to pay more to attract and retain IT professionals.
- The continued presence of security related certifications – 6 of the 15 are in this area (2, 3, 4, 6, 10, and 13), continuing the trend from last year when 5 were. Security shows no sign of abating as a top concern for companies.
- The top certification, Amazon Web Services Certified Solutions Architect – it’s new to the list this year. It’s one of five AWS certifications, all of which have average salaries of $100,000+ but the others didn’t have the minimum number of responses. With more companies moving to the cloud and AWS growing, there will likely be additional AWS certifications on the list next year.
Why should you care?
Well, there’s no shame in admitting that being paid is a primary reason for working, and making more money is generally a good thing! So if you’re an ambitious IT professional, whether you are an FTE or a contractor, it behooves you to review all the information you can about what skills, certifications, or jobs are in demand and pay the best. It may not be the deciding factor, and some of these things will just not appeal to you no matter how much they pay, but it’s more data that you can use to plan future training and make smart career moves.
Does this information measure up with your experience? What certifications are you surprised aren’t on the list? If you hire IT professionals, what do you look for? Or don’t you? Or share your story of what a particular certification did for you and your career, positive or negative.
We’d love to hear from you!