Finding the path that you want to take in the world of IT can help you make the jump from where you are to where you want to be.
IT certifications can boost your value, your salary, and even your employment opportunities. Validated by vendors through meticulous training programs, certifications demonstrate your competency or expertise in specific technologies, methodologies, and functions.
Of course, of all the IT certifications, some standout for the higher salary they command. These are rarely entry-level certificates. So, I’ve investigated a range of certificates for you.
Here are some top paying certificates—ones that will help you earn a highly competitive wage in the ever-changing world of IT.
A note on IT salaries
I looked primarily at average salaries in North America. Of course, salaries will vary depending on a variety of factors, including:
- Your location
- Your skills and experience
- The company or organization where you work
Use these salaries as a guide and as a benchmark on where you’d like to be.
AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
Average salary: $148,623
Becoming a certified practitioner in the powerful AWS ecosystem, you can demand higher wages thanks to your skills in the world of cloud services.
This certification validates the overall understanding of AWS cloud technologies and is particularly suitable for:
- ITOps pros
- DevOps pros
- Cloud solution architects
Certified professionals can describe the basic technology, security, compliance, and financial aspects associated with AWS technologies. You’ll be able to:
- Thoroughly identify documentation sources
- Seek relevant technical assistance and core characteristics of AWS technologies
Some AWS experience is recommended before pursuing this certification.
(Look at other AWS certifications.)
CISM®Certified Information Security Manager
Average salary: $137,058
This certification validates your expertise in a range of IT security, governance, and risk management disciplines. It is suitable for IT professionals with multiple years of experience in designing and managing an enterprise IT security program.
IT professionals with over 20 years of experience in this domain pursue the CISM to seek leadership positions in information security and risk management disciplines within the enterprise segment.
(See more security certifications.)
Google Certified Professional (GCP) Cloud Architect
Average salary: $135,980
This certification prepares IT professionals to design and manage a secure, high-performance, robust, and scalable Google Cloud architecture. These skills help organizations meet their requirements for operating dynamic, secure, and profitable cloud infrastructure. Prior experience with Google Cloud Platform technologies is recommended.
As the GCP can offer some of the highest salaries around (with some wages over, $200,000 a year), the certification seeks to answer two pain points for organizations today:
- The growing demand and popularity of Google’s cloud
- The lack of certified cloud architects
(Learn all about the GCP cloud architect certification.)
CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional
Average salary: $135,510
As cybercrime becomes more complex, the demand for trained cybersecurity officers grows. With the CISSP, security professionals can develop their skills in:
- Security and risk management
- Asset and information security
Obtaining the CISSP requires five years of paid work experience in at least two of the domains that the CISSP covers—so it’s not for newbies. Luckily, developing your skills with a four-year degree can cut down on the amount of time needed to spend on the certificate, allowing security professionals to develop their understanding and implement their new abilities in real life.
(Read our in-depth CISSP explainer.)
CRISC: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
Average salary: $132,266
CRISC validates the skills and experience to manage and control risk across both:
- IT-enabled business processes
Learn how to evaluate how risk mitigation and management align with the organizational framework for innovation. Professionals who earn the CRISC understand how certain risk-based decisions at enterprise organizations can maximize business potential as they compete with fast-paced, agile, and innovative startup firms.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
Average salary: $130,883
The AWS Solutions Architect for Associates certification validates your ability to:
- Architect and deploy secure and robust AWS cloud infrastructure, based on design principles that meet changing customer requirements.
- Follow the project lifecycle with implementation best practice guidelines.
Prior training and preparation are recommended, including several months of hands-on industrial experience with AWS technologies.
If you’re new to the AWS ecosystem, this could be the certification to start with—many more AWS certifications build off it.
Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals
Average salary: $126,653
This Azure Fundamentals certification is focused on the core aspects of Azure cloud services, including security, compliance, and underlying technologies. The certification is aimed at candidates with a non-technical background who are involved in the procurement, sales, and marketing of Microsoft Azure cloud-based services.
It’s also the first step in obtaining a range of role-based Azure certifications, although not necessarily a prerequisite. So, if you’re new to Azure, this is where to begin!
Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
Average salary: $125,993
Among the three role-based Azure certifications, the Azure Administrator Associate is a highly sought-after credential spanning cloud networking, security, and storage functions.
Certified professionals have a broad understanding of managing the resources for security, performance, and scalability in compliance with the policy framework of an organization using Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure.
A prerequisite is the AZ-103: Microsoft Azure Administrator certification exam and can be followed with the Azure DevOps Engineer certifications.
(Explore more Azure certifications.)
CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor®
Average salary: $124,000
The CISA certification focuses on securing critical information and technology assets within your organization. The CISA covers information system acquisition, development, auditing, governance, IT management, operations, and asset protection.
Founded in 1978, it is one of the oldest and most popular certification programs among IT professionals experienced in the information security audits, control, and assurance domain. This is why CISA professionals are in demand. In fact, some customers will only work with organizations who have CISA pros.
(Prepare for the exam with our CISA guide.)
Average salary: $118,353
Whether you are planning to become a Scrum Master or are in an organization that is Scrum-based, the CSM® is designed to help software development teams become more agile.
Aspiring Scrum Masters can learn a variety of real-world skills which will improve agile development and develop value from the course’s core concepts. The content is then cross-applicable to a variety of industries, including marketing, data science, and HR.
(See more Agile certifications.)
PMP – Project Management Professional®
Average salary: $112,000
One of the most prestigious certification programs globally, the PMP shows that the project manager knows and implements best practices to define, plan, and deliver on project milestones with the most successful outcomes.
Certified professionals must pass an exam as well as demonstrate relevant experience in project management. Around half of all professionals pursuing project management certifications opt for the PMP certification program.
(Read more on the PMP & other project management certifications.)
CCA-N: Citrix Certified Associate – Networking
Average salary: $109,430
This Citrix certification covers the network optimization and configuration functions for the Citrix NetScaler 10 app and desktop virtualization technologies. The CCA-N validates your ability to apply network optimization for resilient and dynamic traffic routing, disaster recovery, troubleshooting issues, and server load balancing.
To earn this certification, you’ll have to take a training program and pass an exam.
CCNP Routing and Switching
Average salary: $107,293
The CCNP Routing and Switching certification is suitable for professionals responsible for planning, implementation and managing local and wide area networks. They may be working across a range of job positions, including:
- Network and support engineers
Recently, this certification has been replaced by a new CCNA certification program. The program requires at least one year of relevant experience in the industry, training course followed by exams.
VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV)
Average salary: $105,034
The VMware Data Center Virtualization certification validates the ability to build a scalable virtual infrastructure using the vSphere 6 technology. The evaluated skills include:
- Installation, configuration, and optimization of networking and storage assets
- Administration of the infrastructure
New candidates follow a training program and exams before pursuing this certification. Prior experience with vSphere 6 technologies is recommended. Professionals holding VCP5 certification, however, only need to take a test center exam related to the latest vSphere technology.
CCP-V: Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization
Average salary: $91,827
The CCP-V is aimed at experienced IT professionals, engineers, and consultants working with Citrix virtualization technologies. The certification is highly sought by large enterprises operating complex infrastructure environments using Citrix Hypervisor technologies.
The Citrix Certified Associate–Virtualization (CCA-V) is a prerequisite to the CCP-V and can be followed by the Citrix Certified Expert–Virtualization (CCE-V) certification for even more earnings!
Average salary: $88,108
As one of the most popular ITSM frameworks, this is a well-pursued cross-platform certification. The ITIL Foundation is the first of the four certification levels that include:
- ITIL 4 Managing Professional
- ITIL 4 Strategic Leader
The ITIL Foundation certification validates the ability to understand the end-to-end operating model of the framework and how it can be used to improve the ITSM capabilities of IT-enabled business organizations.
(Succeed with our ITIL 4 Foundation study guide.)