Top 15 Highest-Paying IT Certifications For 2019

Cloud Certifications To The Fore

When CRN in 2017 last looked at the top 15 moneymaking certifications as listed by Cary, N.C.-based IT training and certification specialist Global Knowledge, four of the top six certifications that brought practitioners the highest salaries were security-related.

How things have changed. For 2019, three of the top six are certifications related to architecting and developing on Google or Amazon Web Services clouds, another is a lead-in to Microsoft cloud development. Security-related certifications, while no longer at the top of the list of certifications in terms of salaries that can be commanded, nonetheless make up the largest number of certifications in the top 15.

IT professionals with any of the top 15 certifications can relatively easily find lucrative positions, given that the average yearly salaries for all of them are over $100,000. The information is based on survey responses from the Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report. The certifications in the top 15 had a minimum of 100 responses.

For a look at some ideas for your next certification activities, turn the page.

15. Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching

Average annual salary: $106,957

The Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching certification gives network engineers and administrators the skills to plan, implement, verify, and troubleshoot local and wide area enterprise networks and collaborate with security, voice, wireless and video solution specialists.

People looking for this certification need a minimum of one year of networking experience, and has as a prerequisite the CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) Routing and Switching certification. Three exams--routing, switching, and troubleshooting--will need to be passed, Global Knowledge said.

14. CompTIA Network+

Average annual salary: $107,143

The CompTIA Network+ certification gives networking help desk technicians, infrastructure installers, and junior network technicians necessary entry-level networking skills. Students are tested on wired and wireless networking installation, maintenance, and troubleshooting, as well as on various LAN and WAN protocols and the importance of network security. This certification provides a path towards more vendor-specific certifications, such as Cisco CCNA, Global Knowledge said.

Prior to the exam, students should already have the CompTIA IT Fundamentals certification and CompTIA A+ certification.

13. CompTIA Security+

Average annual salary: $110,321

This intermediate-level exam ensures potential employees understand encryption, access control, security hardening, secure software development, and related skills focused on a wide range of topics including data, application, host, network, physical, and operational security. According to Global Knowledge, Security+ is often the minimum certification level for employees looking to handle core security functions.

Prerequisites include at least two years of experience in IT administration with a security focus along with technical information security experience. CompTIA also recommends having CompTIA Network+ certification prior to taking the CompTIA Security+ examination.

12. Citrix Certified Associate - Virtualization

Average annual salary: $113,442

The entry-level CCA-V certification ensures desktop and application administrators and their support staff have basic skills in managing, maintaining, monitoring, and troubleshooting in Citrix environments. The only requirement is hands-on experience and passing the required examination. People with CCA-V certification have the prerequisite for the Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V) certification.

11. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Average annual salary: $116,306

The CEH certification, managed by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants, lets professionals responsible for network and data security prove their ability to test security defenses, including such skills as using the same tools and methods hackers use to look for a business' networking holes, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. The certificate applies to both on-premises and cloud deployments.

Passing the CEH examination requires testees understand a wide range of security and assessments tools, procedures, and methodology, as well as an understanding of regulations and ethics, Global Knowledge said. The certification is valid for three years, but can be renewed with a variety of continuing education credits.

10. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Average annual salary: $116,900

The CISSP is a vendor-neutral certification from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium aimed at helping security professionals prove their expertise. It has become a common requirement in job postings in midsized and large metropolitan areas, Global Knowledge said.

The exam, offered by Pearson Vue Testing, requires testees have at least five years of paid full-time experience in at least two CISSP domains. Professional who do not yet meet the work experience requirement can earn an International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium associate certification, after which they would have up to six years to complete the work experience.

9. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

Average annual salary: $117,395

The CRISC is offered and managed by ISACA, formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, and is what Global Knowledge called the "truest evaluation there is". Professionals with the CRISC certification provide risk assessments, and can implement, develop, and maintain information systems controls.

A minimum of three years of experience in at least two of the domains covered by the certification within the last 10 years before passing the test or five years after passing the test is required, and yearly continuing professional education credits are needed to maintain the certification.

8. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Average annual salary: $118,412

The CISM certification, also managed by ISACA, is focused on security best practices for people who build and manage enterprise information security deployments.

Requirements for the certification includes at least five years of information security experience, of which at least three must include experience as a security manager. The experience requirements must be met either within 10 years before taking the exam, or five years after taking the exam. Annual continuing education credits are required to maintain the certification.

7. ITIL Foundation

Average annual salary: $120,566

ITIL, previously known as Information Technology Infrastructure Library, is a framework for providing detailed practices for IT service management for an organization. 2019 is ushering in the newest version, ITIL 4, which takes into account such things as devops, agile programming, and lean IT to meet digital transformation requirements. The ITIL Foundation certification ties IT specifically to business requirements.

Certification in ITIL Foundation requires just passing the examination. Global Knowledge said that this certification is a prerequisite for other ITIL intermediate courses.

6. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure

Average annual salary: $121,288

This certification is unusual in this list because it was retired in 2017 but remains valid if it was previously earned. According to Global Knowledge, it was replaced by the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification, but that certification a year later was also retired and split into four others with an emphasis on multi-cloud strategies. These include Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate, Microsoft Certified: Azure Developer Associate, Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert, and MCSE: Core Infrastructure. The MCSE: Core Infrastructure certification, focused more on on-premises strategies, is the one most closely aligned with MCSE: Server Infrastructure.

Each of the four new certifications has their own prerequisites. Global Knowledge said that, according to its own training enrollment data, the Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate certification is the most sought-after of the three Azure-related certifications.

5. AWS Certified Developer - Associate

Average annual salary: $130,369

The AWS Certified Developer - Associate certification shows expertise in developing and maintaining applications on Amazon Web Services, as well as the ability to efficiently use the AWS software developer kits to work with services in the applications write code to optimize AWS app performance. This certification is in the top five of Global Knowledge's top paying certifications for its second straight year.

Certification requires a suggested minimum of six months of hands-on experience with both AWS and one or more programming languages. The exam itself covers such areas as using software development kits to interact with AWS services, how to choose the appropriate AWS services, and AWS services performance and security optimization.

4. AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate

Average annual salary: $132,840

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate certification, which is the prerequisite for getting the AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional certification, also continues its showing in the top five of Global Knowledge's list of top paying certifications. The certification shows expertise in designing and deploying scalable systems using Amazon Web Services.

Certification requires a suggested minimum of six months of hands-on experience with AWS. The exam itself covers such areas as designing applications for AWS, choosing the appropriate AWS services, migration of data to and from AWS environments, and estimating and controlling AWS costs.

3. Certified ScrumMaster

Average annual salary: $135,441

Scrum is a common framework for effective team collaboration on complex products, typically using agile development in software applications. A Certified ScrumMaster is someone who has proven he or she understands the Agile Scrum methodology and have experience in leading a team to use the Scrum framework to help ensure the team's performance.

The Certified ScrumMaster certification is managed by the Scrum Alliance, and those looking to get certified must pass an exam after taking and passing a two-day Certified ScrumMaster Workshop course. The certification is valid for two years, and 40 Scrum education units during that time are required for renewing the certification. Certified ScrumMasters also get a two-year membership in the Scrum Alliance.

2. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Average annual salary: $135,798

The Project Management Professional certification, managed by the Project Management Institute, provides industry recognition certification of project managers. Such project managers, once certified, have shown potential employers that they have the experience and knowledge to define, plan, and deliver projects, Global Knowledge said.

Project management experience is a must for the PMP certification. Candidates need to show at least 7,500 hours of project management experience if they don't have a bachelor's degree, or 4,500 hours if they do have a bachelor's degree. In addition, they will need 35 hours of PMP-related training. PMP-certified people also need to pass 60 hours of professional development units.

1. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect

Average annual salary: $139,529

After only two years, the Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect certification has already become the top money-making certification on the Global Knowledge list. becoming certified as a cloud architect on the Google Cloud Platform shows that one can design, develop, and manage secure and scalable cloud architecture using GCP, the organization said.

To get certified, candidates must prove they understand what solutions work in specific scenario rather than knowledge about specific use of the product. Passing three courses is also a requirement before taking the exam.