If you're in IT, you already know that certifications help you quickly gain skills in a new area. You also gain formal recognition for a set of knowledge employers highly value. That said, not all certifications are created equal. We researched the hottest ones on the market today so that you don't have to. Reach your full potential across a variety of roles, boost your IT salary and help your organization evolve with one of the following certifications.
1. Certificate in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)
If $121,363 average salary sounds good and you are interested in this area, consider the CGEIT certification. The nonprofit group ISACA offers and manages the CGEIT certification. It's designed for those involved in advising, managing, and ensuring the integrity of enterprise IT governance. Available since 2007, CGEIT covers the framework of governance and strategic management that aligns IT with the business.
A critical function in this area is ensuring that IT investments yield optimal returns. CGEIT monitors the management of IT resources for optimization and alignment to risk management. A key objective is efficient resource allocation of talent, infrastructure, and applications.
Competitiveness factor: Only 7,000 people worldwide hold this credential. Due to high demand and short supply, IT professionals with the CGEIT certificate enjoy the highest-paying salaries on this list.
Getting the certification: To obtain CGEIT certification, candidates need five years of experience in three of five areas, including one year working in IT governance framework. You also have to pass an exam that's offered during two separate 16-week windows annually. (Feb 1 to May 24 and Jun 1 to Sep 23). The experience must be acquired in the 10 years prior to five years after you pass the exam.
The computer-based exam is available at certain computer-based testing (CBT) locations. ISACA has a CBT locator on its website.
Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits must be maintained every year to keep the certification. Achieving CGEIT certification demonstrates diligence and years of planning (typical of ISACA certifications). The growth of the cloud and hybrid applications is redefining enterprise IT. So, this discipline will be needed for years to come.
2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate
This certification can net successful candidates an average of $121,292 a year. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect begins with the Associate-level exam. To achieve the certification, you show your expertise in designing and implementing scalable systems on AWS. Its presence in the top 15 certifications is thanks to a gap in the market for certified AWS solution architects. The certification has been in the top 15 for a while and reflects the continuing growth of the cloud.
This certification is a prerequisite for the higher AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional designation. According to salary survey, all five AWS certifications have an average salary over $100,000 (the overall average is $125,591).
Path to certification: To become certified, first get some hands-on experience with AWS. AWS recommends that potential candidates have at least six months of exposure before beginning the certification process. Like many certifications, there is a computer-based exam offered at PSI testing centers. The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate exam covers an array of topics. You will need to be familiar with designing on the AWS tool. You are also asked to select the correct AWS services needed for various scenarios. Concepts include ingress and egress of data, elements of the AWS environment, and how to estimate AWS costs. You will also have to identify associated cost-control measures.
3. Project Management Professional (PMP®)
Another powerful certification is the Project Management Professional. Achieving this designation nets holders an average salary of $114,473. It ranks third on our list of high-paying IT certifications. This long-standing, ever-evolving certification was created by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). It's by far the most recognized project management credential. That means that there's a lot of competition for these jobs. Worldwide, 770,000 professionals have achieved this title and are active PMPs. You can find PMPs in 210 countries around the globe, making this one of the most transferable knowledge sets on the planet.
Path to certification: The PMP exam covers five areas of the project life cycle. You will need to know the relevant details of initiating and planning engagements as well as executing, monitoring and controlling all the resources involved. When the project finishes, you go through a closing process that's also covered on the exam. PMP certification shows your expertise in leading an IT project and isn't limited to any industry. If you're considering taking the exam, be aware that a new version of the test was released in March 2018. You will need to purchase updated study guides or take a relevant course to prepare for the new exam objectives.
To achieve this certificate, you need 35 hours of PMP-related training or coursework. Additionally, if you don't have a bachelor’s degree, you need to accumulate and show proof of 7,500 hours of project management experience. With a bachelor's degree, the experience requirement is 4,500 hours. Candidates register and the PMI website. Approved applicants are able to sign up with Prometric, which administers the test.
To maintain your PMP certification, you must continue your professional development via 60 professional development units (called PDUs) every three years. This certification also takes years of planning and determination. PMP certification has been among the top 15 IT certifications for many years and is highly valued by employers.
4. AWS Certified Developer Associate
The number four certification on the list is the AWS Certified Developer Associate with an average salary of $114,148. This new certification premieres high on the list due to great demand for this skillset. Those who hold this designation had validated their knowledge of developing and maintaining AWS applications. This is separate from designing the solution utilizing the Solutions Architect position already discussed. When you become an AWS Certified Developer, employers know that you can efficiently implement AWS Software Development Kits to interact with multiple services within these apps and that you know how to write code that optimizes AWS performance.
Competitiveness factor: The popularity of this certificate has exploded thanks to the rapid growth of cloud-based applications development. This certification was designed to advance the footprint of this technology and to help developers stay competitive. It's related to the skyrocketing popularity of the IoT (Internet of Things) and an ongoing push to mobile compatibility for new apps.
Path to certification: You'll need hands-on experience with several programming languages, including AWS experience (at least six months). The computer-based exam can be taken at PSI test centers. The AWS Certified Developer – Associate test covers various topics. Make sure you are familiar with using SDKs to plug into AWS services. You will also have to demonstrate how to choose the appropriate AWS services in provided scenarios. Your coding skills are put to the test when you are asked to create code to optimize performance within the AWS platform as well as questions on coding security to access AWS services.
5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
You can expect an average of $111,475 once you complete this certification. The CISSP certificate is offered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)².
This vendor-neutral credential shows your security expertise. As in other security-related fields, demand is huge and projected to remain so for many years. A unique feature of this credential is the ability to work on the required experience while pursuing the certificate. This enables you to get into the security field quickly.
Competitiveness factor: There are more than 122,000 certified people worldwide, most in the US.
Path to certification: Take the exam at Pearson Vue Testing centers. You need five years of work in Information Security (IS). Once you achieve the certification, there are continuing education requirements every year to keep the designation.
CISSP candidates need five years of full-time, experience in two of the eight areas covered on the test. Those without work experience can still pursue the designation by passing the test and then pursuing the work requirement. You have six years to gain the necessary experience. Areas tested include security and risk management, computer security, communications and network security, asset security, software development security, identity and access management, security architecture and engineering, security operations, and security assessment and testing.
Certified Professionals Get the Job
Once you have collected your certifications, you'll be receiving a lot of job offers. To find that perfect offer, team up with ICS. We have access to hot open jobs and will fight for you to get the best offer possible. When you're ready to see what's out there, contact us.