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5 Most Popular IT Certifications for 2019

Date:
May 13, 2019
Author:
Ryan Day

Examining the data from the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report allows us to pinpoint the most popular certifications of 2019. Essentially, these are credentials with the most perceived value according to our surveyed IT professionals.

In North America, 63% of IT professionals are presently training for a certification or plan to this year. Half of those professionals earned a certification in the past year—30% in the past six months. There’s no doubt that IT professionals still have a high opinion of certifications.

While IT professionals are most likely to hold certifications in CompTIA and Microsoft, a greater percentage are pursuing credentials in AWS and Cisco in 2019.

Here are the five most sought-after certifications this year.

 

1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect

For the IT professionals in the United States and Canada planning to add a certification this year, a staggering 21% say they will pursue the Associate- or Professional-level of this certification. Of all cloud professionals surveyed, 43% are cloud architects who must be able to design and deploy scalable solutions. AWS Certified Solutions Architect demonstrates those critical cloud skills have been achieved.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate is also one of this year’s highest-paying certifications, coming in fourth at $132,840. Those pursuing this certification are most likely to be cross-certified in CompTIA, Microsoft and ITIL®.

Eighty-five percent of IT professionals who hold this certification have at least six years of career experience, and of that group, 63% have over a decade on the job.

While most certification exams focus on one primary technology, AWS certifications often cover a couple dozen AWS services. AWS Certified Solutions Architects have verified their skills to:

  • Design and deploy scalable, highly available and fault-tolerant systems on AWS.
  • Lift and shift of an existing on-premises application to AWS.
  • Select the appropriate AWS service based on data, compute, database or security requirements.
  • Identify appropriate use of AWS architectural best practices.
  • Estimate AWS costs and identify cost control mechanisms.

Start preparing for this certification

For Associate-level:

For Professional-level:

Learn more about AWS certification

 

2. CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional

One out of every five survey respondents work in IT security. And the most popular of the cybersecurity certifications is (ISC)2’s CISSP, with 6.3% planning to add the credential this year. This vendor-neutral certification validates years of cybersecurity experience.

Security is the most difficult hiring area in IT, with 37% of decision-makers struggling to find qualified talent. Certifications like CISSP are in high demand, especially as cyberattacks continue to increase in frequency and complexity. CISSP confirms at least five years of relevant work experience—it’s basically like getting your master’s degree in cybersecurity.

This expert-level certification is annually one of the top-paying credentials in the industry. The average CISSP-certified professional in the U.S. makes $116,900 a year. Those pursuing this certification are most likely to be cross-certified in CompTIA, ITIL and Microsoft.

CISSP-certified individuals tend to be more tenured. Sixty percent have more than 15 years of experience in IT, while only six percent have five years or less.

Note: The CISSP certification exam was updated in 2018 to include a modest revision of topics and a significant change to the testing process. Download this free CISSP certification white paper to learn about all of the CISSP exam changes.

Start preparing for this certification

Learn more about CISSP

 

3. CCNA Routing and Switching

Cisco’s routing and switching credential, designed for network engineers, is always popular in our IT Skills and Salary Report. This year, 4.8% of respondents plan to pursue CCNA Routing and Switching. Once attained, certified professionals possess the abilities to implement, administer and manage medium- to large-sized networks.

This certification has staying power and is always in demand. While other areas come and go, routing and switching is something that is required for all organizations, whether they keep their data locally or in the cloud.

Those pursuing Cisco Routing and Switching certifications (CCNA, CCNP or CCIE) are most likely to be cross-certified in CompTIA, Microsoft and Citrix.

CCNA Routing and Switching is a certification that can be attained by professionals with minimal career experience. Half of all IT professionals who hold this credential have less than 10 years of experience, while 24% have five years or less in IT.

Advancing to CCNP Routing and Switching has a monetary benefit as well—it ranks 15th in the U.S. in salary this year ($106,957).

Start preparing for this certification

Standard path:

Accelerated path:

Learn more about Cisco certification

 

4. CompTIA Security+

Thirty percent of IT professionals are already CompTIA-certified. Expect that number to grow, as 4.5% have CompTIA Security+ in their sights this year.

Security+ is an intermediate-level exam, focusing on a wide array of foundational security topics, including data, application, host, network, physical and operational security. You are expected to understand encryption, access control, hardening and secure software development, among other things. Many organizations consider Security+ to be the minimum level of certification to be considered for all IT positions beyond entry-level, not just security-related jobs.

Due to a lack of qualified expertise, security positions pay extremely well. Security+ cracked our highest-paying certification list this year at 13th ($110,321). The average tenure is all over the map for those certified in CompTIA Security+. Twenty percent have five years or less of experience, while 43% have more than 15 years of career experience.

Nearly 50% of professionals who are pursuing Security+ are already certified in CompTIA Network+. Those same people are most likely to be cross-certified in Microsoft, Cisco and ITIL.

Start preparing for this certification

Learn more about CompTIA certification

 

5. PMP® — Project Management Professional

PMP, the premiere project management credential, was created by the Project Management Institute (PMI®). It’s popularity rarely dips as it remains a respected and valued certification year after year. In 2019, 3.5% of IT professionals plan to achieve their PMP.

This certification provides employers and customers with a level of assurance that a project manager has both the experience and knowledge to effectively define, plan and deliver their projects. The PMP credential is often the key differentiator in decisions about who to hire or entrust with important organizational project initiatives.

PMP pays well too—this year it ranks second as a top-paying U.S. certification ($135,798). Those pursuing PMP are most likely to be cross-certified in CompTIA, ITIL and Microsoft.

PMP-certified professionals tend to be more tenured, with over 70% having 15-plus years of career experience. Only 13% have been working in IT for 10 years or less.

Start preparing for this certification

Learn more about project management certification

 

Related resources

Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

 

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