Top 15 Moneymaking Certifications For 2015

Security, Business, Networking Most Lucrative IT Certifications

Solution providers looking to discover a pot of gold should pursue certifications in IT security, business, networking and systems management.

That's according to information gathered for the 2015 IT Skills and Salary Survey, conducted by the New York-based business training and certification company Global Knowledge, as well as Windows IT Pro. More than 11,000 people responded to the survey.

Global Knowledge touts certifications as a great way to expand skill sets and increase pay, particularly by learning about related technical fields or breaking into business management.

Below are the best-paying certifications of 2015.

Also, be sure to check out the best-paying certifications of 2016.

Honorable Mention: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate brings in an average salary of $114,935, according to the survey. While they would have been good for third place on the Global Knowledge list, it did not receive enough responses to be considered.

The baseline certification was introduced in mid-2013 and is intended for people with experience distributing applications and systems on the AWS platform.

The certification addresses topics such as designing on AWS, selecting the appropriate AWS services for your situation, estimating AWS costs and identifying cost control measures.

AWS has rolled out three additional certifications since introducing the Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, and has another one in beta.

Nos. 16-25 Citrix, Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell

Global Knowledge found that several certifications had an average salary just outside the top 15 threshold.

Counting up from 25 is the Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator, with an average salary of $87,667; the Certified Novell Administrator at $89,018; Red Hat Certified System Administrator at $89,427; Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix XenApp 6 at $91,069; and Microsoft Certified IT Professional: Enterprise Administrator at $92,252.

Numbers 16 to 20 are all Citrix, with the CCA for Citrix XenDesktop 6, CCA for Citrix XenServer 9, Citrix Certified Associate-Virtualization, Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer and Citrix Certified Advanced Administrator for XenApp 6, clocking in with salaries of $92,411; $92,695; $93,437; $93,662; and $93,831, respectively.

15. Certified Novell Engineer

The Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) will bring in an average salary of $93,856, according to the survey.

Global Knowledge said that the CNE certification was very popular in the 1990s but declined in status during the 2000s as Microsoft Windows became a dominant server vendor. But now the certification is back in demand as platforms multiplied and many CNEs moved onto other areas.

The certification confirms the ability to design, implement, troubleshoot and upgrade networks based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).

[Related: 18 Tough Certifications That Are Worth The Effort]

14. VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization

The VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) brings in an average salary of $94,181, 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, Global Knowledge found. VCP was changed several years ago from a single certification to multiple tracks as the VMware product portfolio expanded.

A 2014 VMware policy requires VCEs to, every two years, either recertify their current track, take an exam in another VCE track or take a higher-level exam to maintain their certification. For this reason, Global Knowledge expects there to be fewer VCPs next year.

13. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) brings in an average salary of $95,155, according to the survey, down from $103,822 last year.

Created and managed by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council), the certification tests the ability of IT professionals to prod for holes, weaknesses and vulnerabilities in an end user's network defenses using hackers' methods.

While a hacker would be interested in causing damage or stealing information, a CEH would be interested in fixing the deficiencies found.

The need for CEHs is quite high, according to Global Knowledge, given the volume of attacks, amount of personal data at risk and possible legal liabilities.

12. ITIL v3 Foundation

According to the survey, the ITIL v3 Foundation certification brings in an average salary of $95,434, down from $97,682 last year.

The 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 an understanding of the IT lifecycle and the concepts and terminology surrounding it. Anyone wishing for higher-level ITIL certifications must have the v3 Foundation level first.

ITIL was created by England's government in the 1980s and has, over the past three decades, become the most widely used framework for IT management in the world.

11. Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer

The Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer brings in an average salary of $96,198, the survey found, up from $95,276 last year.

The certification, however, is old and can no longer be attained. It was valid for Windows NT 3.51 to Windows 2003.

It has been replaced by the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE), which is valid for Windows 2012. There is an upgrade path for those certified on Windows 2008, but no direct path from the old Engineer certification to the new MCSE.

10. Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate – Junos

The Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate – Junos (JNCIA-Junos), the survey found, brings in an average salary of $96,374.

The JNCIA-Junos certifies knowledge of networking fundamentals, basic routing and switching and Junos OS. It is valid for two years, and the only entry-level certification in the top 10.

9. Cisco Certified Network Professionals Routing and Switching

The Cisco Certified Network Professionals (CCNP) Routing and Switching brings in an average salary of $97,038, according to Global Knowledge's survey.

CCNPs in routing and switching typically have at least a couple years of experience and have demonstrated the ability to plan, deploy and troubleshoot both LAN and WAN scenarios, and work with experts in fields such as voice and wireless. The certification requires separate exams in switching, routing and troubleshooting.

The certification is a follow-up to the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching certification, with many CCNA engineers moving onto CCNP to earn higher salaries and show greater knowledge and depth in networking.

8. Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization

The Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V) brings in an average salary of $97,998, the survey found.

CCP-V certifies that a person can deploy applications and virtual desktops using a variety of Citrix technologies such as XenDeskop 7, XenServer and NetScaler.

It requires that candidates have already earned Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V) certification and, in November 2014, replaced Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE), which brought in an annual salary of $104,240.

The high ranking for CCP-V suggests that holding certification on the latest version of a platform yields a higher salary than being certified on older versions, according to Global Knowledge.

7. Cisco Certified Design Associate

The Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) brings in an average salary of $99,701, according to the survey, up from $95,602 last year.

This associate-level certification is intended for network design engineers, technicians or support technicians. Individuals who receive the certification must be able to design basic campus-type networks and be familiar with routing and switching, security, voice and video, wireless connectivity, and v4 and v6 IP.

Prior to getting the CCDA, people must earn one of the following: the lowest-level Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCNET), a CCNA in Routing and Switching or any of the highest-level Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certifications.

6. Certified ScrumMaster

The Certified ScrumMaster brings in an average salary of $101,729, according to Global Knowledge's survey findings, down from $107,396.

The project management-related certification was originally focused on software application development but is now intended for courseware, programming or manufacturing projects where a customer often changes his or her mind during the development process.

ScrumMaster takes the approach that requirements will change during the project lifecycle and team members must do the best they can to quickly adapt.

To earn this certificate, a candidate must attend a class taught by a certified Scrum trainer and pass the associated exam. There are fewer than 3,000 Certified ScrumMasters worldwide.

5. Certified Information Systems Auditor

According to the survey, the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) brings in an average salary of $106,181, down from $112,040 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 106,000 people. It requires at least five years of IS auditing, control or security experience, as well as passing an exam that's offered just three times per year.

4. Project Management Professional

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate, the survey said, brings in an average salary of $109,405, up from $108,525 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 more than 630,000 PMPs around the globe.

3. Certified Information Systems Security Professional

According to the survey, the Certified Information Systems Security Partnership (CISSP) brings in an average salary of $110,603.

CISSP is intended to provide vendor-neutral security expertise and consists of an exam-based risk analysis, cloud computing, security when developing applications, mobile, cryptography, physical security, business continuity and disaster recovery planning, and legal and compliance issues.

CISSP candidates must earn Continuous Professional Education (CPE) credits every year to remain certified. They must also have at least five years of full-time experience in at least two of the 10 computer security areas tested.

There are nearly 96,000 CISSPs worldwide, with approximately two-thirds of them in the United States.

2. Certified Information Security Manager

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) brings in an average salary of $118,348, the survey found, up from $114,844 last year.

CISM is aimed at management and focused on security strategy and assessing the systems and policies in place. It is not intended for IT professionals and others who are actually responsible for the implementation of policies using a particular vendor's platform.

The certification requires at least five years of IS experience, with at least three of those as a security manager. More than 24,000 people have been certified in CISM since it was introduced in 2002. The exam is only offered three times a year.

1. Certified In Risk And Information Systems Control

The Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) brings in an average salary of $119,227, according to the survey, up from $118,253 last year.

The CRISC certification is designed for IT professionals, project managers and others who identify and manage risks through appropriate information systems (IS) controls, covering 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 twice a year -- and have at least three years' experience in at least three of the five areas the certification covers.

More than 17,000 people worldwide have earned CRISC since the credential was introduced in 2010.