We have all heard the advice, “Do what you love, and the money will follow.” And while this may indeed be true, as far as financial compensation goes, it certainly helps to have the right certifications — especially if you are an IT pro.
According to researchers at Global Knowledge, an industry-leading IT training provider used here at Devolutions, these were the 10 highest-paying IT certifications in 2020 (ranked from lowest to highest):
10. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
Average annual salary: $129,402 (Note: All figures in this article are USD)
About: ITIL is the most widely accepted IT management framework in the world. IT professionals who earn ITIL certifications have an in-depth knowledge of IT service management best practices. This gives such professionals the ability to help organizations save time, cut waste, and avoid costly rework. The ITIL Foundation is the launching point for the certification, and it provides a general understanding of the IT service lifecycle.
9. VCP-DCV 2021: VMware Certified Professional — Data Center Virtualization
Average annual salary: $130,226
About: This certification validates an IT professional’s ability to install, deploy, scale, and manage VMware virtualization technologies, such as vSphere High Availability and Distributed Resource Scheduler clusters. It is interesting to note that those who earn this certification have also obtained, on average, 7.4 additional IT certifications — which is more than any other certification on this list.
8. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
Average annual salary: $131,465
About: Becoming an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner validates an IT professional’s cloud fluency and foundational AWS knowledge. Prerequisites for taking the certification exam include: six months of exposure to the AWS Cloud; basic understanding of IT services and their uses in the AWS Cloud platform; and knowledge of core AWS services and use cases, billing and pricing models, security concepts, and how cloud impacts the business.
7. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Average annual salary: $132,278
About: Governed by ISACA, the CISA is a globally recognized certification for security, audit control, and assurance professionals. Obtaining this certification highlights an IT professional’s experience, skills, and knowledge. It also validates their ability to assess vulnerabilities, report on compliance, and institute controls across the organization.
6. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Average annual salary: $141,452
About: The CISSP is governed by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)². It is a vendor-neutral certification that verifies an IT professional’s in-depth technical and managerial knowledge, experience, and ability to manage an overall Infosec program. This is a very in-demand certification. Once obtained, IT professionals will likely be able to find a job in just about any large corporation that is hiring, since many insist on CISSP certification as a prerequisite.
5. Project Management Professional (PMP)
Average annual salary: $143,493
About: Administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), PMP certification is the most recognized project management credential in the world. It validates an IT professional’s (and other project professionals) competence across core project management process groups, including initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. In recent years, the PMP exam has increasingly focused on team building, communication, leadership, and professional ethics, in addition to technical acumen in areas like budgeting, scheduling, risk management, etc.
4. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
Average annual salary: $146,480
About: CRISC certification, which is administered by ISACA, validates an IT professional’s competence in four key domains: governance, IT risk assessment, risk response and reporting, and IT and security. This certification is widely considered the best — and in the opinion of some experts, the only — certification that adequately prepares IT professionals for the unique and often difficult challenges of risk management.
3. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Average annual salary: $146,480
About: CISM certification, which is administered by ISACA, validates an IT professional’s competence in information security governance, program development and management, incident management, and risk management. Many organizations require their IT and InfoSec managers to be CISM certified.
2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect — Associate
Average annual salary: $149,446
About: AWS Certified Solutions Architect is among the most valuable and sought-after cloud computing certifications in the world. It validates an IT professional’s technical expertise in designing and deploying scalable, highly available, and fault-tolerant systems on AWS. At least one year of experience with AWS is required to take the exam.
1. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Average annual salary: $175,761
About: Although Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect was only introduced four years ago, it has risen to become the most lucrative IT certification. It validates an IT professional’s knowledge and ability with Google Cloud technologies with respect to: designing and planning a cloud solution architecture; managing and provisioning the cloud solution infrastructure; designing for security and compliance; analyzing and optimizing technical and business processes; managing implementations of cloud architecture; and ensuring solution and operations reliability.
It’s Not Just About Money
Money is always going to be a factor when it comes to career direction. However, for the vast majority of people, it is not the top consideration. In fact, a survey found that 9 in 10 people would willingly earn less money, in return for the chance to perform more meaningful work.
Yes, achieving any — or even better, a few — of the certifications on this list will almost certainly boost your earning potential, and perhaps by a significant amount. Even more importantly, however, increasing your knowledge and verifying your competence will give you the opportunity to make a greater contribution and have a bigger impact over the span of your career. And what could be more rewarding than that?
Let us close with some inspiring advice from positive thinking and self-development guru Norman Vincent Peale: “The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They're full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too!”