In this series, I’ve embarked on an expedition to explore and filter through data from Global Knowledge’s eighth annual IT Skills and Salary Report to discover correlations in situations where professionals report a higher income.
In this post, I’ve broken down the report’s most popular certifications to find which one leads to more money, based on the average reported salary. Unlike in my previous posts on states and industries, this data is limited to IT professionals and covers certifications with only 100 or more responses. While you’ll see some business-type certifications on the list, these are held by respondents who designated themselves as IT professionals.
Wouldn’t it be nice to earn a certification and immediately make more money? Are you curious to see how your salary compares to others with your same certifications?
Before you plan out a certification path, know that even if you attend the courses, study for the tests and pass the certification exams, you’re not guaranteed to earn that specific salary, and results among different individuals will always vary. You could earn more, or less, than the reported amount depending on other factors like tenure, management level, location, job function, company size and experience. When comparing the data below to our report averages, note that the mean overall salary for respondents is $86,223 for those who provided their certification information.
Top 10 certifications: 1 – 10
The top 10 certifications represent the major moneymakers for certified IT professionals, and rightfully so. They are some of the most advanced designations one can receive in the technology field.
With the recent security hacks and increased risks that come from our connected world, it’s no surprise that security-type certifications top the list, securing three out of the four tops spots for compensation. Thankfully, companies are preparing themselves to fight possible hacks by hiring the industry-certified best, and ensuring proper compensation to keep those professionals on their security teams. Also on the top list, Cisco and Microsoft both secure two spots with their popular certifications. Additionally, we see a representation on the business side for the PMP and ITIL® certifications — typically directors and others in management roles tend to pursue these types of certifications.
If you’re new to IT or just beginning your journey on the certification path, these industry-set designations represent an ultimate career goal where you’ll most likely receive the largest compensation for your efforts.
|1||CRISC: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control||Security||$119,227|
|2||CISM: Certified Information Security Manager||Security||$118,348|
|3||CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional||Security||$110,603|
|4||PMP®: Project Management Professional||Project Management||$109,405|
|5||CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor||Security||$106,181|
|6||CCDA: Cisco Certified Design Associate||Cisco||$99,701|
|7||CCNP: Cisco Certified Network Professional – Routing and Switching||Cisco||$97,038|
|8||MCSE: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer – 2003||Microsoft||$96,726|
|9||MCSE: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer||Microsoft||$96,215|
|10||ITIL v3 Foundation||ITIL||$95,434|
Next 10 Certifications: 10 – 20
The next 10 certifications all average above the mean reported salary for certified professionals of $86,223. Citrix holds a majority of these spots with six of the top 10 – 20 for their administrator/associate certifications on XenServer, XenDesktop and XenApp, along with Associate Virtualization and Enterprise Engineer designations. Also in virtualization, VMware tops the list with their VCP-DCV cert.
Along the security trend, Certified Ethical Hacker barely missed the top 10 list, demonstrating again the growing trend to compensate individuals trained to keep their company’s data and privacy safe.
|11||CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker||Security||$95,155|
|12||VCP-DCV: VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization||VMware||$94,181|
|13||CCAA: Citrix Certified Advanced Administrator – XenApp 6||Citrix||$93,831|
|14||CCEE: Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer||Citrix||$93,662|
|15||CCA-V Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization||Citrix||$93,437|
|16||CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenServer 6||Citrix||$92,695|
|17||CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenDesktop 6||Citrix||$92,411|
|18||MCITP: Microsoft Certified IT Professional – Enterprise Administrator||Microsoft||$92,252|
|19||CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator – Citrix XenApp 6||Citrix||$91,069|
|20||CNA: Certified Novell Administrator||Novell||$89,018|
Middle-of-the-Road Certifications: 21 – 40
The first two certifications, MCSA: Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator and CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate – Voice, average above the mean reported salary for certified IT professionals, while all certifications from #23 on dip below that average.
In general, these certifications represent intermediate industry-defined skills sets, still providing professionals an advantage on their resume but not necessarily top dollars. These certifications can provide a stepping stone to the more advanced certified designations in the top 20 for a higher compensation potential.
|21||MCSA: Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator||Microsoft||$87,667|
|22||CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate – Voice||Cisco||$87,502|
|23||MCITP: Microsoft Certified IT Professional – Server Administrator||Microsoft||$85,575|
|24||MCTS: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist||Microsoft||$85,234|
|25||MCP: Microsoft Certified Professional||Microsoft||$84,940|
|26||CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate – Security||Cisco||$84,547|
|27||MCITP: Microsoft Certified IT Professional||Microsoft||$83,844|
|28||MCSA: Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate – Windows Server 2008||Microsoft||$83,112|
|29||VCA-DCV: VMware Certified Associate – Data Center Virtualization||VMware||$82,342|
|30||MCTS: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist – Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure Configuration||Microsoft||$81,945|
|31||CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate – Routing and Switching||Cisco||$81,161|
|33||CompTIA Project+||Project Management||$80,412|
|34||MCTS: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist – Windows Server 2008 Active Directory Configuration||Microsoft||$80,032|
|38||MCSA: Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate – Windows Server 2012||Microsoft||$79,201|
|39||MCDST: Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician||Microsoft||$76,409|
|40||Other CompTIA Certification||CompTIA||$74,647|
Bottom Certifications: 41 – 51
Many of these certifications in the least-compensated grouping are typical for those in the early stages of their certification path or career. Designations like CompTIA A+ and Network+ have become an industry standard minimum as a groundwork for the tech field — both validated as standards as the two highest number of certified respondents. As these certifications tend to fall in the foundational category, use these findings as a general foundation for moving up through a certification path to find higher compensation for your evolving skills set.
|42||Web Foundations Associate||Internet/Web Dev||$74,048|
|44||MCTS: Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist – Windows 7, Configuration||Microsoft||$73,499|
|45||MCSA: Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate – Windows 7||Microsoft||$73,009|
|46||Web Design Specialist||Internet/Web Dev||$71,468|
|47||CCENT: Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician||Cisco||$70,680|
|49||MTA: Microsoft Technology Associate||Microsoft||$66,668|
|51||Web Foundations Associate||Internet/Web Dev||$74,048|
This overarching look at certifications provides the best depiction of potential earnings for IT and non-IT professionals, in comparison to conclusions based on location and industry. In all instances, an average doesn’t represent the whole, so I recommend finding an online forum, like the My Community forums inside MyGK, to connect with professionals in your field and ask about specific certification combinations and impacts on salary from other factors like tenure and management level.
To find out more about earning more based on state and industry, view the previous blogs in this series, “I Want More Money: Where Should I Live?” and “I Want More Money: What Industry Should I Choose?”
Want to learn more?
To see additional data on demographics, job functions and other factors that impact salary, download the full eighth annual 2015 IT Skills & Salary Report.