The 15 most valuable IT certifications today

Looking for a leg up in your IT career? IT certifications remain a proven way to quickly gain valuable skills and demonstrate deeper interest and know-how in a domain that will further your career.

Sarah K. White Oct 11th 2018
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Certifications and skills can help boost your salary, set you apart from the competition and help you land promotions in your current role. A survey from Global Knowledge found that 83 percent of IT professionals in the U.S. and Canada hold an IT certification — and in the U.S. the average salary for a certified IT professional is on average $8,400 (or 11.7 percent) higher.

Hiring certified professionals is also beneficial for employers. Of those surveyed, 44 percent of IT decision-makers say certifications result in employees performing work faster, 33 percent said it results in more efficiency when implementing systems and 23 percent say it helps deploy products and services faster with fewer errors. 

Here are the 15 most valuable certifications for tech workers this year.

The 15 top-paying certifications of 2018

  • Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • AWS Certified Developer – Associate
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified ScrumMaster
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Six Sigma Green Belt
  • Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Server Infrastructure
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching
  • Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N)

Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

Offered through the ISACA, the CGEIT certification demonstrates your knowledge of enterprise IT governance. The certification shows you’re capable of applying IT governance principle and concepts in a professional environment. It’s designed for those with “significant management, advisory or assurance roles relating to the governance of IT,” including IS and IT directors, consultants, executives, managers and governance professionals, according to the ISACA. The CGEIT certification is currently ranked as one of the most valuable certifications available, according to data from Global Knowledge.

Requirements: Five or more years of experience managing, serving in an advisory or oversight role or otherwise supporting IT governance initiatives in an enterprise setting. You’ll need a minimum of one year of experience with an IT governance framework and experience in two or more of the CGEIT domains, which includes strategic management, benefits realization, risk optimization or resource optimization.

Average salary for CGEIT certification: $121,363

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

AWS remains the top cloud platform of choice, and the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification is designed for those with a background in the AWS platform. It focuses on demonstrating your ability to design and deploy scalable systems on AWS including how to keep development cost effective without sacrificing on security, reliability and quality.  

Requirements: One year or more of hands-on experience designing systems on AWS, knowledge of at least one high-level programming language, an understanding of best practices around developing AWS-based applications.

Average salary for AWS certification: $121,292

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP certification is offered through PMI and it’s designed for advanced project management professionals. PMI states that a certification in PMP will let you “work in virtually any industry, with any methodology and in any location.” The certification covers the five main stages of a project’s life cycle, including initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing.

Requirements: To take the exam, those holding a four-year degree need three years of experience in project management, 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education. With a secondary degree, you’ll need 5 years of experience, 7,500 hours leading and direction projects and 35 hours of project management education.

Average salary for PMP certification: $114,475

AWS Certified Developer – Associate

The AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification from Amazon is designed for developers who work with the core AWS services. The certification will demonstrate your ability to develop, deploy and debug cloud-based applications with AWS. As organizations increasingly adopt cloud technology, internet of things, machine learning and other emerging technologies, the AWS Certified Developer certification has become more valuable for job seekers.

Requirements: One or more years of hands-on experience designing and maintaining AWS-based applications, solid knowledge of one or more high-level programming languages and an understanding of AWS services.

Average salary for AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification: $114,473

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP certification is offered by the ISC and accredited under ANSI, formally approved by the U.S. Department of Defense and adopted as a standard for the U.S. National Security Agency’s ISEEP program. It’s recognized globally as a certification designed to help IT security professionals establish best practices around modern security.

Requirements: You will need at least five years of experience in information security and at least three years of experience as a security manager. Experience must be within 10 years of the exam, or five years after passing it. You’ll need to keep the certification up to date with continuing professional education (CPE) credits and you need to have at least five years of full-time paid experience in two or more of the topics included on the exam.

Average salary for CISSP certification: $111,475

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

The ISACA touts the CRISC certification as the “only certification that prepares and enables IT professionals for the unique challenges of IT and enterprise risk management and positions them to become strategic partners to the enterprise.” This information security certification demonstrates your abilities in risk management, assessment, mitigation, response, monitoring and reporting.

Requirements: To earn a CRISC certification, you will need three years or more experience in at least two of the four topics covered in the certification. You’ll also need to earn CPE credits each year to uphold the certification. 

Average salary for CRISC certification: $111,049

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The ISACA also offers the CISM certification, which focuses on IT security at the management level. It’s designed to demonstrate proficiency in building, designing and managing enterprise security initiatives. The exam is only offered for two 16-week periods throughout the year — this year it’s available starting either February 1 or June 1.

Requirements: To obtain a CISM certification, you need at least five years of information security experience, and that experience must be within 10 years of your exam date or five years after passing it. You’ll also need to earn CPEs to maintain the certification.

Average salary for CISM certification: $108,043

Certified ScrumMaster

The Scrum Alliance offers a ScrumMaster certification that is well-known and respected in the industry. Becoming a certified ScrumMaster will certify your knowledge of the Scrum framework and how to apply it in the workplace. It’s an especially useful certification for project managers, technical project managers, Scrum masters, program managers, project leads and product developers. Along with your certification, you’ll also receive a two-year membership with the Scrum Alliance, which will give you access to local and online networking events.

Requirements: Before you can take the certification, you will need to attend an in-person, two-day CSM course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer.

Average salary for Certified ScrumMaster certification: $106,938

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Offered through the EC-Council, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) designation shows you have the skills and knowledge to find vulnerabilities in computer systems and to prevent hacking. An “ethical hacker” is someone who uses the same skills and knowledge as a malicious hacker to develop security measures to prevent potential attacks. Typically, businesses will ask you to think like a hacker to find weaknesses in computer systems and networks and with that knowledge, it’s easier to fix security gaps and prevent potential threats.

Requirements: You will need two years of experience working in information security.

Average salary for Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification: $106,375

Six Sigma Green Belt

Six Sigma is a management methodology used to streamline quality management that involves multiple levels of certification. You can’t skip levels when earning your Six Sigma certifications, so no matter where you are in your career, you will start with the entry-level Green Belt certification. As a Six Sigma Green Belt, you’ll be guided by a Black Belt in your organization who will mentor you while you learn the methodology.

Requirements: Three years of on-the-job experience in one or more areas of the Six Sigma Green Belt Body of Knowledge and experience working in a full-time, paid roe.

Average salary for Six Sigma Green Belt certification: $104,099

Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V)

The CCP-V certification demonstrates competency in virtual desktop applications using Citrix technologies. Topics include pre-installation, installing required technologies, configuring technical components and testing configurations. In 2014, certification replaced the Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE) certification and focused on skills to deploy, maintain and configure solutions based on Citrix’s XenDesktop software.

Requirements: You’ll need to earn your associate-level certification before you can move on to the CCP-V certification.

Average salary for CCP-V certification: $103,424

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Server Infrastructure

The MCSE certification is unique on this list, because it’s no longer offered through Microsoft — it was replaced with the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification. Nevertheless, it made the list of top-paying certifications because it’s still a valid certification if you earned it before March 2017. The Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification is a suitable replacement to pursue.

This certification demonstrates your abilities to run an efficient data center and your knowledge in areas like cloud technology, virtualization, storage, networking, and systems and identity management.

Requirements: To earn an MCSE certification you need to first have one out of four MCSA certifications offered through Microsoft.

Average salary for Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Server Infrastructure certification: $100,656

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

The ISACA describes the CISA certification as a “globally recognized certification for IS audit control.” It’s been around since 1978 and focuses on demonstrating your capabilities in every stage of the auditing process, your ability to report on compliance procedures and how well you can assess vulnerabilities.

Requirements: You’ll need at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control or security. There’s an entry-level exam that you will need to pass before moving onto the CISA exam. Like other ISACA certifications, you will need to earn CPE credits to maintain your certification.

Average salary for CISA certification: $99,648

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching

The CCNP certification is for IT pros who have completed their CCNA certification and moved on to the next tier of exams. Under the CCNP certification, you can choose to be certified in cloud, collaboration, data center, routing and switching, security, service providing, or wireless.

Requirements: You’ll need to complete the CCNA Routing and Switching exam or any CCIE exam before moving onto the CCNP certification exam.

Average salary for CCNP Routing and Switching certification: $99,402

Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N)

The CCA-N certification focuses on demonstrating proficiency in the use of NetScaler Gateway in an enterprise environment. The exam covers topic areas surrounding the use of NetScaler Gateway to securely access remote desktops, applications and data.

Requirements: There are no prerequisites for taking the CCA-N certification. 

Average salary for CCA-N certification: $99,217