The start of this decade saw a major technological shift that brought us into the throes of Web 2.0 and the reality of our always connected and always on world. As we move forward into 2019, and closer to the end of the 2010s decade, there is still a massive demand for tech workers mixed with a major shortage in the labor pool.

Due to the rapid pace of change that so often occurs in the technology sector, staying up to date on the most relevant technology skills is crucial for job competency in the next decade. While technology is often seen as a highly focused skills-based industry, it never hurts to make a time and money investment into certifications for the benefit of your career. Whether you are working as a Solutions Architect with a focus in AWS or an IT Project Manager leading teams to completion of the SDLC, proving your worth with a certification will only act as an added bonus for you career-wise. So without further ado, we would like to present you with some of the hottest and most in-demand IT certifications.

CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker

It’s no secret that cybersecurity is at the forefront of everybody’s mind as we enter an increasingly connected and digitized world. One of the more difficult subjects to master, cybersecurity has never been more important for a company as more and more customer and user data is being utilized for different business functions and transactions. America has learned about the importance of cybersecurity the hard way: When one of the largest credit bureaus in the country was compromised, leaving 143 million U.S. consumers, at risk of potential identity theft. Social Security Numbers, home addresses and driver’s licenses were stolen as well as over 200,000 credit card numbers. Talk about a headache.

 Which brings us to the increasing need for Certified Ethical Hackers and their expertise in helping companies identify vulnerabilities in cybersecurity. An Ethical Hacker often utilizes the same tools and processes that a malicious hacker would to penetrate into system-wide infrastructure, albeit in a legal way. Professionals with a CEH certification will often end up performing White Hat or Penetration Testing work. Some other positions that benefit from having a CEH have to do with IT auditing, network/data security, and security officers. The exam lasts a total duration of 4 hours, with 125 questions presented in a multiple-choice format. Certified Ethical Hackers make an average of around $80,074 .

CSM: Certified Scrum Master

The Certified Scrum Master credential is a Project Management-based certification that is intended to set a minimum standard of competency for Project Managers leading Scrum teams to completion. The term Scrum is analogous to the game of Rugby where both teams huddle up before or during a matchup to attempt to gain possession of the ball at the beginning of a game or play. This is similar to the idea that Scrum teams will huddle up at the start of each day to go over strategy in Scrum meetings. Getting this certification helps professionals gain a better understanding of the processes and team roles necessary for successful completion of projects.  The certification will help you adopt Agile practices across multiple industry sectors. To gain a CSM credential, candidates must go through a 2-day workshop and then complete a 24-35 question exam. Certified Scrum Masters can expect to make an average of around $88,189 per year.

CISM: Certified Information Security Manager

 Obtaining a CISM credential is one of the most highly pursued in the IT industry. With all of the complexities surrounding Information Security and its implementation, proper management of a company’s Information Security policy is crucial to success in the present day. The certification showcases a person’s competency with such topics as adherence to international security practices and the management, design, oversight and assessment of an Enterprise’s information security policy.

 Individuals interested in pursuing a CISM can do so through an organization known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). To sit for the CISM exam, you must also have real-world experience working in the IT industry. IT Managers, Consultants and Chief Information Officers are some of the more common job titles that can benefit from the pursuit of a CISM credential. The CISM exam is 200 questions in length and covers the topics of information security governance, risk and incident management. Professionals with a CISM can expect to make an average of around $122,000 per year.

AWS: Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Cloud-based services have been around for several years now and are continuing to grow at a rapid pace. Due to the increasing demand for knowledge of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and a subsequently low supply of people trained in it, the AWS family of certifications continues to be highly sought after and a lucrative choice for today’s professionals. With so many companies moving to cloud-based services for more efficient utilization of data and lower operating costs, the demand for Solutions Architects trained in the use of AWS is skyrocketing. 

Solutions Architects will often maintain expertise on the design of systems based on whichever cloud service they are utilizing (in this case AWS) and the architecture of large-scale distributed systems. The Certified Solutions Architect credential helps validate a professional’s ability to design solutions based on customer requirements. As new technology gets implemented across the board, Solutions Architects work on maintaining best practices so the project moves smoothly through its lifecycle. To sit for this exam, candidates should have at least 1+ years of hands-on experience in the design of scalable distributed systems in AWS. The exam consists of multiple-choice and multiple-answer questions and lasts a total of 130 minutes. The registration fee to take the exam is $150, which is quite reasonably priced considering the average annual income of $106,000 per year that AWS Certified Solutions Architects can expect to make! 

CGEIT: Certified in Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

The CGEIT credential is meant to serve as a way to validate a professional’s expertise in enterprise governance of a company’s IT systems and Information Security. As the IT field and industry continues to grow, it is routine for company management to now place an extra important emphasis on enterprise IT governance. The CGEIT is ultimately a certification which shows that IT and business professionals are trained in the area of governance and management of company IT policy, such as with risk management. Good leadership is necessary for a successful IT policy, so the CGEIT is catered towards individuals looking to make a move into a C-Suite management, director or executive-level position.

Like the CISM, the CGEIT credential is administered by ISACA. Some of the types of employees who might consider pursuing the CGEIT include Risk Management Officers, IT Risk Leaders, IT Controllers and Chief Information Officers. To sit for the CGEIT, candidates must have 5+ years in an advisory or IT oversight role and a minimum of 1+ year managing IT governance frameworks. The fees are $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-members. The test consists of 150 multiple choice questions with 4 hours to complete it. An average professional with a CGEIT can expect to make around $132,000 per year.

The Future of IT Governance

The rapid pace of technological change will only accelerate as our world becomes more connected and reliant on newer forms of technology. It is an exciting new world we are heading into and the importance for companies to have competent and stalwart IT leadership has never been higher. While company IT employees work to improve upon and maintain strong Information Security services for their customers and users, the ever-prevalent threat of malicious hackers and cyber espionage will only grow with it. If you’re considering a move into the field of IT, or are a seasoned veteran of the IT world and looking to gain an edge in your profession, consider looking into these IT certifications for the benefit of your career.

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