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10 Highest-Paying IT Certifications in 2021

September 3, 2021

The IT field has proven to be a growing and dynamic market with plenty of fulfilling and promising opportunities. With the right IT certifications, you can expect a high salary and a successful career. But what are the best certifications to get in Information Technology? In this article, we discuss some of the most advanced, sought-after and highest-paying certifications available in the IT industry.

What is an IT certification?

An IT certification is a method of standardizing working professionals to a certain level of proficiency within the information technology sector by the administration of examinations and continuing education. The reasoning behind wanting to earn an IT certification is threefold:

1. Validation

Earning an IT certification is a way for potential employers to confirm you have the skills necessary to perform certain job functions. An IT certification can also validate a current employee who wishes to add to their knowledge base and gain career growth because of it.

2. Marketability

Once an IT certification is earned, an employee immediately becomes more marketable not only at their current company but also with prospective employers. Bringing more technical skills and abilities to a position, the employee is likely to earn higher compensation or a better role at his/her company.

3. Career development

With all the new technologies being invented every day, earning an IT certification is a great way to ensure you’re on top of the latest developments, while also growing your skillset. Certification can help to refresh old skills while also learning new techniques, as well.

Top 10 highest-paying IT certifications

While there are many IT certifications to choose from, you should select the right certification based on the type of employment you hope to secure and the salary you hope to make. Here are the top 10 highest-paying IT certifications, what they teach and estimated IT salaries for each:

1. Google-Certified Professional Cloud Architect

This certification has been on the market since 2017 and is one of the highest-paying certifications in the industry. It demonstrates a professional ability to design, develop and manage a cloud-based architecture on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). The cloud has been gaining in popularity and usability for all kinds of companies to store and manage large quantities of digital data. As such, the need for professional-level cloud architects is crucial for the niche to stay relevant and continue to grow in the marketplace. The average compensation for individuals who hold the Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect is around $139,529. The test for this certification is offered at Kryterion testing centers.

2. Project Management Professional (PMP)

PMP certification is the most respected level of standardized proficiency in the project management profession. Earning a PMP designation shows both employers and clients that an individual is capable of delivering a quality service, by effectively designing and implementing projects to a high standard. The annual salary estimate for an individual holding the PMP designation is around $135,798.

3. Certified ScrumMaster

This is an entry-level certification that showcases your knowledge of Agile Scrum and its practices. With this certification, you will lead the Scrum team, teach them the framework and motivate them to perform at their highest level. Certified ScrumMasters also safeguard from internal and external distractions. To maintain certification, you must earn Scrum Education Units and renew your certification every two years. Certified ScrumMasters earn an estimated $135,441 per year.

4. Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Solutions Architect

An AWS Certified Solutions Architect should have the ability to design and deploy secure and strong systems on AWS technologies. This certification is intended for those with one or more years of experience designing successful, scalable distributed systems on AWS. Because more and more companies are growing through the development of cloud-based applications, AWS Certified Developers are in high demand. AWS Certified Solutions Architects earn an estimated $132,840 per year.

5. AWS Certified Developer – Associate

An Amazon Web Services Certified Developer is an expert in developing and maintaining applications on AWS. The demand for people with this certification remains high. It is suggested that applicants have experience working with one or more programming languages and AWS before being tested for the certification. The certification test covers a wide range of subjects, including using Software Development Kits (SDKs) to work with AWS services, choosing the best fit AWS service for a provided scenario and writing code that focuses on performance optimization of an application (especially concerning its AWS services). AWS Certified Developers earn around $130,369 per year.

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

This certification was retired in 2017 and replaced by the MCSE: Cloud Platform and Infrastructure certification. The original certification provided validation of knowledge running a competent and modern data center through identity management, visualization, storage and more. Microsoft’s shift to role-based certifications leads to the Server Infrastructure’s split into four certifications. Many still hold this certification, therefore maintaining its place on this list. Both Cloud Platform and Server Infrastructure MCSEs earn an estimated $121,288 per year.

7. Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

This entry-level certification provides candidates with a broad introduction to the IT service lifecycle. The ITIL teaches students how to identify requirements from a business and IT perspective, craft solutions, and deliver and continuously improve tech-enabled services. The ITIL Foundation is one of the few certifications that recognize the link between the world of business and technology. ITIL Foundation certified managers can earn an average of $120,566 annually.

8. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

In today’s digital world of malware and identity theft, information security has never been more critical. The CISM designation is one that promotes security best practices. Employees who hold this certification ensure a safe and secure digital environment for the company they work for. On average, you can make $118,412 per year as a CISM.

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

CRISC is focused on risk management. Those who are CRISC-certified help their companies understand business risk and have the technical skills to set up, grow and take care of information systems controls. The CRISC certification is owned and offered by ISACA (formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association). A CRISC certification can earn you an average of $117,395 per year.

10. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

CISSP is a widely respected and desired designation in the IT industry. With an increasing amount of business taking place in the digital world, information security is destined to become more and more relevant as time passes. CISSP designation is highly coveted by many employers as a prerequisite for higher-level information security positions. The exam is based on eight segments of computer security including operations of security, risk and security management, communications and network security, software development, asset security, security architecture and engineering, identity and access management and security assessment and testing. The rough estimate of annual compensation for a CISSP holder is $116,900.

How to get an IT certification

Here are the four steps to obtaining an IT certification:

1. Determine the right certification

The first step to getting certified in an IT designation is making sure you select the right certification. Make sure you’re choosing the most appealing to your interests and the most beneficial to your career goals. It’s also important to note any upcoming changes to your certification and prerequisites for higher-level certifications.

2. Gain experience and practice

Before taking the certification test, study the material you’re likely to come across on the exam. Training is available online or in a classroom. Though it’s impossible to know exactly what will be on the test, practicing potential questions based on the exam’s objectives will help you achieve a better test result and help you gain confidence for the actual test.

3. Register for the test

Once you feel confident in your test-taking abilities as it pertains to your specific certification, buy an exam voucher and schedule your test. If you’re taking an IT training course, your voucher may already be included and you might have already taken part of the exam during the class. Continue studying in preparation for your test.

4. Take the test

Make sure to get a good night’s rest the night before your test. Allow yourself ample time to arrive at the test center and go in with confidence. Even if you don’t pass on your first try, it’s a great opportunity to learn from your mistakes and know more or less what to expect for your next examination.

5. Maintain your certification

Some certifications have expiration dates but it’ll vary by vendor. It’s important to note the expiration date for your particular certification and retake the exam if required.

Jobs that prefer an IT certification

While there are several IT employment opportunities, it’s important to know what types of jobs prefer IT certification when starting your job search. Here are a few examples:

National average salary:$87,636 per year

Primary duties: A security analyst monitors a company’s computer network to protect it from cyber-attacks and overall security issues. They also help place and maintain security standards by installing software, documenting any security breaches and investigating any breaches.

Companies with this position: PowerSchool, Northrup Grumman and The Reynolds and Reynolds Company

National average salary: $100,872 per year

Primary duties: An IT auditor is primarily concerned with the internal control procedures and potential risks of a company’s technology network. They must work well within a team, be good communicators and create plans to prevent future security breaches.

Companies with this position: Fidelity & Guaranty Life, Fond Du Lac Reservation, Frank Rimerman and Co LLP and Central Intelligence Agency

National average salary: $105,544 per year

Primary duties: A security engineer protects companies’ networks and systems from data breaches. They create and maintain data security plans and policies for employees to follow. They continually monitor and test networks to ensure they’re safe from cyber-attacks and minimize the impact of lost data. CRISC or CISM certifications are sometimes preferred for security engineers.

Companies with this position: 23andMe, Vivint Solar and U.S. Navy

National average salary: $85,706 per year

Primary duties: A system administrator monitors a company’s computer system. They do everything from setting up new accounts to keeping track of the server’s performance. They install and configure software and hardware, troubleshoot issues and make sure the IT infrastructure is secure and efficient.

Companies with this position: Midtown Community Health Center,Options Clearing Corporation

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