The IT landscape is constantly evolving, which means it’s never the wrong time to get certified in new tech skills. We found the 10 certifications that can boost your earnings the most in 2022 and where you can find training to earn them.
It’s no secret that employers have struggled to hire and retain qualified talent in recent years, a situation made all the worse since the pandemic. In a survey by Global Knowledge, a technology skills learning company, 50% of hiring managers said recruiting has been a major challenge. Part of the problem is finding candidates to fill highly-skilled, specialized roles; the same study showed that 80% of North American IT departments had skills gaps.
Clearly, opportunities abound. So how to get noticed and win your next big career break? One way is to demonstrate your skill by earning an IT certification. No matter your current level of experience, it’s never the wrong time to pick up some new skills or even pivot into a whole new line of work. A multitude of certification programs are available, and there are more free or low-cost sources of training for them than ever before. What’s more, passing one could mean a significant boost to your pay.
Not convinced that getting a new certification would be worth the effort and expense? In the latest report from edX and the Linux Foundation, 72% of hiring managers surveyed said they would be more likely to hire a candidate who had a certification, up a whopping 20% from the previous year’s numbers. Even better, 88% of managers said they would be willing to pay to have their current employees certified, and that figure has grown by 60% over the last four years of the survey.
Undoubtedly, this growing enthusiasm for certification has much to do with how quickly the IT landscape has changed in recent years. The rapid shift to cloud computing, particularly among small-to-midsize businesses, means employers need teams with modern skills to match. Similarly, the ever-evolving underworld of cybersecurity threats is another perennial worry. According to a recent skill survey by Burning Glass Technologies, some specialty tracks in the cybersecurity space stand to grow by more than 160% over the next four years, with salary bumps to match.
Which Certs Will Earn You the Most??
Even among cloud and security certifications, however, the field of options was broad. We wanted to know which certs would add the most to your bottom line, and for this, we consulted Global Knowledge’s latest report of the top-paying IT certifications in the U.S. as of 2021, ranked by the average salaries they command.
This year, cloud technologies and security made up the top six certs by salary, up from the top four in the previous year. This comes as no surprise, considering their high demand among employers. Still, project management remains another high-paying option, which is important to note since it’s been a top contender for more than a decade. IT professionals with these skills are in high demand and tend to command the largest paychecks overall.
The data is based both on what Global Knowledge’s customers study and the jobs they find after they graduate. Below, we’ve listed the pack leaders along with a description of the specialization and a corresponding average salary. Bear in mind, however, that an IT certification is no magic wand for better pay. Real-world compensation will always be the result of multiple factors, including not just your certified skills but also your education, length of experience, job role, tenure, and plain hard work. But certification remains a great way to put your best foot forward, especially if you’re looking to enter a new field.
Here are the 10 accreditations that will be the best earners in 2022, based on Global Knowledge’s research:
10. VCP-DCV: VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization
Coming in at number 10, down one spot from last year’s survey, the VCP-DCV cert validates the skills needed to build a scalable virtual infrastructure using the VMware vSphere server virtualization platform. You’ll learn to administer, consolidate, and deploy VMware virtualization technologies using vSphere High Availability and Distributed Resource Scheduler clusters.
If that appeals to you, to earn the cert you’ll need to complete VMware’s VCP-DCV 2021 – Professional VMware vSphere 7.x (2V0-21.20 course, which must be administered by an authorized training provider or reseller. You’ll then need to complete a second course, but you can choose from a list of five possible electives, and VMware has on-demand web resources for those. To complete these courses, VMware recommends at least six months of on-the-job experience using the latest version of vSphere (currently that’s version 7).
IT professionals with this credential have earned an average of 7.4 career certifications, the highest amount on the Global Knowledge list. They also earn an average salary of $132,947 per year.
9. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Though it’s relatively new to our Top 10 list, this is one of the oldest and most respected IT credentials, since it was originally created by ISACA back in 1978. The CISA accreditation validates auditing, cybersecurity, and risk management skills. CISA-certified IT experts are hired to ensure that a business’ critical assets are secure and properly maintained.
To achieve this certification, you need to pass the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) exam. This consists of five domains: Auditing Information Systems; Governance and Management of IT; Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation; Information Systems Operation, Maintenance, and Service Management; and Protection of Information Assets. The most likely job roles for this certification are IT auditors and the average pay for CISA cert holders is $134,460 per year.
8. Nutanix Certified Professional – Multicloud Infrastructure (NCP-MCI)
Nutanix is a rapidly-growing cloud solutions provider, which explains why this entry is new to our Top 10 list. The company provides a number of cloud technologies, including data management, hybrid clouds, multi-cloud architectures, and even desktop as a service (DaaS) offerings to support hybrid work. Most of these are based on Nutanix’s proprietary AOS cloud platform technology.
The NCP-MCI certification ensures that IT professionals have the proficiency to manage, set up, and troubleshoot any AOS instance in Nutanix’s Enterprise Cloud. Successful candidates will also learn to administer AOS network blocks, clusters, and nodes and use Nutanix’s Prism Element tool to manage Nutanix virtual infrastructure.
Getting the certification means you’ll need to pass the Nutanix Multicloud Infrastructure exam. The 75-question test is administered via remote proctor and Nutanix provides detailed learning resources. Pass the exam and you’ll be in line to earn an average salary of $142,810.
7. Project Management Professional (PMP)
The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification has fallen from the fifth spot on last year’s list to seventh in 2021, but it’s still one of the most mature and stable certifications an IT manager can get. It’s worth noting, too, that while its ranking has gone down, the average pay that PMP certificate holders can expect has gone up.
The program was created and is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and is likely the most recognized project management accreditation available today. It demonstrates that you are competent when it comes to managing projects, including such aspects as budgets, goals, and teams.
That said, this certification is not an easy get. You will be tested in the five basic lifecycle steps inherent to any project: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. And before you become certified, you’ll need to have completed at least 35 hours of related training before you can take the exam. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, then you’ll also need 4,500 hours of project management experience (those without a degree will need 7,500 hours).
That means getting a PMP certification can take years, but it’s worth it for those that want this kind of career. Certified PMPs currently earn an average of $148,906 per year. However, those numbers can grow significantly if a PMP holder moves up into senior management, which many such professionals do.
6. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Though it’s maintained a position on the top 10 certifications list, the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification has dropped from third place in 2020 to sixth in 2021.
It was also the highest-paying discipline with a core focus on information security in 2020, but has now fallen slightly behind its rivals, the CISSP and CRISC certifications (see below). However, it’s still very much a sought-after and lucrative credential, especially considering the dearth of qualified IT security professionals.
Attain it, and your job will be to design and engineer security protocols as well as manage a company’s overall IT security. As a CISM, you’ll have access to lines of business outside of IT, putting you face to face with company stakeholders. ISACA, which created the cert, has detailed learning resources.
CISMs are well-paid, too. On average, Global Knowledge says you can make $149,246 per year.
5. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
If you work in security analysis, auditing, systems engineering, or anything in between, then the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) might be your perfect certification. It was created by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, known as (ISC)², and is one of the most sought-after security certifications today. Moving up from sixth place last year, the CISSP credential teaches candidates to be information assurance pros. These folks are usually responsible for determining the security aspects of an IT organization’s overall architecture, controls, and management.
Should you pass the test, which requires you to have a minimum of five years worth of relevant experience, you can look forward to an average compensation rate of $151,853 per year. It’s worth noting that even after getting the certification you will still need to receive continuing education credits each year to maintain your credential. This is a tough requirement, but that’s a big reason why this cert is in such demand by employers.
4. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
Take the ISACA Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) exam and you’ll be tested in four major IT skill areas: Assessment, Identification, Mitigation, and Response, as well as Control Monitoring and Reporting. CRISC has maintained its fourth-place position on the list from last year likely because the industry has a continued and strong focus on evaluating IT risk. If you have the prerequisite three years of relevant experience, and identifying and managing risks sounds interesting to you, then the CRISC certification is worth checking out.
The test has 150 questions and lasts roughly four hours. If you pass the exam and find a role, your certification can earn you an average of $151,995 per year.
3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
Falling one notch from second to third place this year, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification tests your expertise in designing systems on the Amazon Web Services cloud. If you have hands-on experience with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and are used to architecting large-scale, distributed systems, then this certification may be exactly what you need to move your career forward.
To achieve this certification, candidates must pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C02) exam. In addition to the relevant training, AWS also recommends at least a year of hands-on experience designing systems on AWS before taking this exam. The exam takes 80 minutes and is administered at PSI centers across the United States. Successful AWS Certified Solutions Architects make an average of $159,033 per year.
2. Google Cloud Professional Cloud Architect
Falling from first to second place in 2021 is the Google Professional Cloud Architect certification, which debuted in 2017. This discipline allows IT pros to certify as architects on the Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Completing this certification ensures you’ll have the capacity to design, develop, and manage resources residing on Google’s cloud architecture using GCP technologies.
Earning this certification entails a deep knowledge of the Google technology solutions you’ll need to apply in order to address a wide variety of different cloud scenarios. Cloud skills continue to be in high demand and mastering Google’s tools for reliable and secure solutions will be critical to any organization standardizing on the GCP platform. Global Knowledge points out that the average cloud computing professional in the U.S. makes over $160,000 a year, despite that specialization making up such a small percentage (4%) of its survey respondent base. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architects can expect to earn an average of $169,029 per year.
1. Google Cloud Professional Data Engineer
A newcomer to the Top 10 list, this accreditation has exploded in popularity because of the intense need for cloud data management and database expertise. However, this isn’t a database-administrator sort of gig. If you complete the Google Cloud Professional Data Engineer cert, you’ll instead be doing architecture work on business processes and statistical models. You’ll also design machine learning algorithms. That means you’ll be giving senior management the data they need to make important business decisions through data transformation and visualization.
You’ll need to pass the Google Cloud Professional Data Engineer exam to get this credential. Google offers plenty of online training courseware to help you get ready, but any certification candidate must also have an undergraduate degree in computer science, informatics, information systems, statistics, or another degree that Google would term a “quantitative field.”
The work is worth it, though, as Google Data Engineers earn the highest salary on our list, namely an average of $171,749.