Top 15 Moneymaking Certifications For 2017
Security, Virtualization, Cloud Most Lucrative IT Certifications
Solution providers looking to hit the jackpot should pursue certifications in IT security, virtualization, cloud computing, Microsoft Windows, business and networking.
That's according to information gathered for the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey, conducted by Cary, N.C.-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge. Certifications must have at least 115 survey responses and be currently available to appear on the Global Knowledge list.
All but four of the top 15 certifications pay more than $100,000, and two of the four that don't are less than $1,000 shy. Six of the certifications that appear on this year's list didn't make it last year, and last year's top-paying certification has fallen to third on this year's list.
Below are the best-paying certifications of 2016.
Honorable Mentions: CompTIA, Cisco
Popular entry-level certifications are the building blocks to financial fortune and provide an ideal jumping-off point for the specialized, higher-level certifications that enable partners to really rake in the dough.
Coming in fourth in terms of popularity is CompTIA's Security+, which pays an average of $89,147 and was held by 1,216 U.S.-based respondents last year. Taking the bronze is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching, with an average salary of $83,945 and 1,547 U.S. respondents.
CompTIA's Network+ was the runner-up with an average salary of $81,601 and 1,293 U.S.-based respondents last year. And taking the crown is CompTIA's A+ certification, a broad-based foundational certificate, with an average salary of $79,877 and 1,611 U.S.-based respondents.
15. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate – Windows Server 2012
Holders of the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Windows Server 2012 certifications bring in an average salary of $93,718, up from $76,988 last year, according to the Global Knowledge survey.
Microsoft has been working hard for years to be at the center of the data center, according to Global Knowledge, and thus demand for the MCSA – Windows Server 2012 has been and still is quite strong.
The MCSA – Windows Server 2012 demonstrates competency with server administration tasks such as file and storage configuration, configuring and managing high availability, group policy and virtualization, as well as configuring both network and Active Directory infrastructure.
This is one of the foundational certifications required to obtain the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Cloud Platform and Infrastructure.
14. Cisco Certified Networking Professional Routing and Switching
Holders of the Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing & Switching bring in an average salary of $96,826, up from $95,881 last year, according to Global Knowledge.
The CCNP Routing and Switching has staying power since it is required for almost all organizations regardless of whether they keep their data locally or in the cloud, Global Knowledge said.
The certification shows mastery of Cisco switch and router planning, installation, configuration and troubleshooting, Global Knowledge said. Certificate-holders are required to pass three exams covering routing, switching and troubleshooting.
Prerequisites for this certificate include either the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certificate.
13. Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization
Holders of the Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V) certification bring in an average salary of $99,411, up from $92,527 last year, the survey found.
The CCA-V certification covers the basics of managing, maintaining, monitoring and troubleshooting, and is designed for the desktop and application administrators and the technical support staff that assist these users.
The entry-level certification requires nothing other than hands-on experience and passing the exam, and is a prerequisite for the Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V).
The CCP-A commands a premium salary since demand is fairly high and the supply of certified individuals is low, Global Knowledge said. It replaces two Citrix XenDesktop certifications retired in July 2015 and July 2016.
12. Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate – Windows Server 2008
According to the survey, holders of the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) – Windows Server 2008 bring in an average salary of $99,558, up from $89,288 last year.
The MCSA – Windows Server 2008 tests for server administration tasks as well as configuring both network and Active Directory infrastructure. It is a foundational-level certification.
The Windows Server 2008 operating system is nearing the end of its life cycle and will no longer be supported soon. The MCSA Server 2008 certification is scheduled for retirement on July 31.
Upgrading to MCSA: Windows Server 2012 or MCSA: Windows Server 2016 requires only a single exam.
11. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert – Server Infrastructure
Holders of the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) – Server Infrastructure bring in an average salary of $101,150, according to Global Knowledge, down from $111,154 last year.
The MCSE – Server Infrastructure builds on the foundation of either on-premise skills or cloud skills, adding a single elective exam. The credentials do not expire or require recertification.
This certification will be retired on March 31 and replaced by the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification.
This expert-level certification validates the skills needed to run a highly efficient and modern data center, with expertise in cloud technologies, identity management, systems management, virtualization, storage and networking. All Windows Server and Azure exams can be found in this portfolio.
10. Citrix Certified Associate – Networking
Holders of the Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N) certification bring in an average salary of $102,598, up from $101,991 last year, the survey found.
The CCA-N certification covers the basics of assessing the environment, designing the NetScaler implementation, and implementing the NetScaler for desktop, application and data access, Global Knowledge said. It also covers troubleshooting efforts with NetScaler and issues around high availability, security, auditing and integration with third-party products.
The NetScaler is a popular piece of infrastructure widely used in Citrix deployments, boosting demand for the CCA-N. The NetScaler is also somewhat complex and requires a good foundation in basic networking, Global Knowledge said.
The CCA-N certification can be obtained simply by passing an exam.
9. VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization
Holders of the VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) certification bring in an average salary of $102,962, up from $99,334 last year, according to the Global Knowledge survey.
VCP-DCV certifies knowledge of, and ability to perform, basic deployment and administration of vCenter and ESXi. DCV is the largest and oldest of the VCP tracks.
VMware is the largest virtualization vendor in the world, and thus there is strong demand for VCP5-DCV certificate holders to install and maintain a virtualization infrastructure. Given that more than three-quarters of all servers installed on-premise are virtualized, there is a huge market need.
The VCP5-DCV is scheduled to be retired on March 31, and will be replaced by the VCP6-DCV.
8. ITIL v3 Foundation
According to the survey, holders of the ITIL v3 Foundation certification bring in an average salary of $103,408, up from $99,869 last year.
This broad-based certification covers everything from availability and capacity management to change and incident management to application and IT operations management.
This is the entry-level ITIL certification and provides and understanding of the IT life cycle and the concepts and terminology surrounding it. It is one of the few certifications that focuses on the intersection of IT and the needs of the business.
Over the past three decades, ITIL has become the most widely used framework for IT management in the world. There are no prerequisites for the certification beyond passing an exam.
7. Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization
Holders of the Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V) certification bring in an average salary of $105,086, up from $102,138 last year, the survey found.
The CCP-V certifies that a person can deploy applications and virtual desktops using a variety of Citrix technologies such as XenDesktop 7. The CCP-V commands a premium salary since demand for the certification is fairly high, but supply is fairly low.
It requires that candidates have already earned the Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V) certification and, in November 2014, replaced Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE).
The CCP-V certification is valid for three years and must be renewed separate of the CCA-V certification.
6. Certified Information Systems Auditor
According to the survey, holders of the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) bring in an average salary of $115,471, up from $113,320 last year.
The CISA certification is designed to test a candidate's ability to manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance standards within IT and business, and propose controls, processes and updates to a company's policies.
It is intended for people with auditing, controlling, monitoring or assessing responsibilities in the IT or business system ecosystem.
CISA dates back to 1978 and has been awarded to more than 126,000 people. It requires at least five years of information systems auditing, control or security experience, as well as passing an exam that's offered only during three eight-week windows per year.
5. Project Management Professional
Holders of the Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate, the survey said, bring in an average salary of $119,349, up from $116,094 last year.
The PMP certification exam tests five areas relating to the life cycle of a project: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. It is intended for running any type of project and is not specialized by industry.
To become certified, 35 hours of PMP-related training is required, along with 7,500 hours of project management experience without a bachelor's degree or 4,500 hours of project management experience with a bachelor's degree or higher.
It is the most recognized project management certification available, with nearly 730,000 PMPs in 210 countries and territories around the globe.
4. Certified Information Systems Security Professional
According to the survey, holders of the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) bring in an average salary of $121,729, down from $121,923 last year.
CISSP is intended to provide vendor-neutral security expertise and consists of an exam based around security and risk management, communications and network security, software development security, asset security, security engineering, identity and access management, security assessment and testing, and security operations.
CISSP certificate-holders must earn Continuous Professional Education (CPE) credits every year to remain certified. They must also have at least five years of full-time, paid experience in at least two of the eight computer security areas tested.
There are nearly 111,000 CISSPs worldwide, with approximately two-thirds of them in the U.S.
3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
Holders of the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate bring in an average salary of $125,091, according to the survey, down from $125,871 last year.
The certification tests an individual's expertise in designing and deploying scalable systems on AWS, and is intended for people with at least six months of hands-on AWS experience.
The certification addresses topics such as designing on AWS, selecting the appropriate AWS services for a given situation, ingress and egress of data to and from the AWS environment, estimating AWS costs, and identifying cost-control measures.
Just 10,000 individuals hold the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certificate, which is a very small number given the popularity of the AWS platform. That has driven up salaries for certified individuals, Global Knowledge said.
2. Certified Information Security Manager
Holders of the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) bring in an average salary of $128,156, the survey found, up from $122,291 last year.
CISM is aimed at management and focuses on security strategy and assessing the systems and policies in place. More than 32,000 people have been certified in CISM since it was introduced in 2002, making it a highly sought-after area with a relatively small supply of certified individuals, Global Knowledge said.
The certification requires at least five years of information security experience, with at least three of those as a security manager. The exam is only offered during three eight-week periods in 2017.
Continuing education credits are required each year to maintain the CISM certification.
1. Certified In Risk and Information Systems Control
Holders of the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification bring in an average salary of $131,928, according to the survey, up from $122,954 last year.
The CRISC certification is designed for IT professionals, project managers and others who identify and manage risks through appropriate information systems controls. It covers the entire life cycle from design to implementation to ongoing maintenance.
To obtain the CRISC certification, one must pass the exam – which is only offered during three eight-week windows per year – and have at least three years' experience in at least two of the four areas that the certification covers.
More than 20,000 people worldwide have earned the CRISC certification, and 96 percent of those who have earned it keep it current.