IT certifications can help you quickly gain and validate valuable skills and know-how in a domain that will further your career. Here are the most popular IT certs today.
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Certifications can validate your IT skills and experience to show employers you have the expertise to get the job done. When it comes to certifications, you can typically choose to get certified in skills that you already have, or you can use certification as an opportunity to grow your skill set and develop skills you’d like to put to use in your career. Whatever your reason for getting certified, certifications are a great way to strengthen your resume, set yourself apart from other candidates in a job search, and boost your salary.
According to the 2024 IT Salary report from Robert Half, these are some of the most valuable certifications IT professionals can hold in the coming year. Whether you’re just starting out and building your resume or you’ve been in the industry for 20 years, there’s a certification that can help boost your salary and your career.
8 most in-demand certifications
- Amazon Web Services (AWS) certifications
- Certified Agile Leadership (CAL)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Cisco certifications
- CompTIA A+
- Microsoft Azure certifications
- Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
Amazon Web Services (AWS) certifications
Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a widely used platform across every industry, and Amazon offers several certifications that fall under the umbrella of AWS, with paths for IT roles such as solutions architect, application architect, cloud data engineer, software development engineer, systems administrator, cloud engineer, test engineer, cloud DevOps engineer, DevSecOps engineer, cloud security engineer, cloud security architect, network engineer, and machine learning engineer. It’s a vendor-specific certification that will benefit anyone who is tasked with working directly with AWS products and services or looking to make good on the high demand for cloud skills today. The certifications range in skill level, with options available for people who are completely new to tech, options for entry-level IT pros who have experience, and certifications designed for seasoned veterans of the industry.
According to PayScale, the average salary for AWS skills is $115,000 per year, while the average salary for each AWS certification varies depending on the specific certification.
Certified Agile Leadership (CAL)
The Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) certification is offered by ScrumAlliance and includes three certification modules, including CAL Essentials, CAL for Teams, and CAL for Organizations. The modules were customed designed by “leaders in business and team agility,” according to ScrumAlliance, and they employ approved educators who can demonstrate years of “real-world experience and success” coaching others and implementing agile in the workplace. The goal is to help participants gain the skills and confidence to navigate and guide an organization through agile adoption and transformation. The certification is targeted at agile team members, managers, organizational decision-makers, change leaders, executives, coaches and consultants, and aspiring or current leaders.
While it does not offer certification-specific salary data for agile, according to PayScale the average salary for IT pros with agile development skills is $113,000 per year.
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Offered through the ISACA, the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification is a globally recognized certification for IS audit control. It was established in 1978 and certifies your ability to report on compliance procedures, how well you can assess vulnerabilities, and your knowledge of every stage in the auditing process. To qualify, you need at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control, or security and must complete another entry-level exam through the ISACA certification scheme. The certification covers high-level topics such as the information systems auditing process, governance and management of IT, operations and business resilience, and IS acquisition, development, and implementation.
According to PayScale, the average annual salary for CISA certified IT pros is $114,000 per year.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification offered through the (ISC)² demonstrates your knowledge of and skills in IT security and information assurance. The vendor-neutral certification covers topics such as organizational structure, security and risk management, asset security, security operations, identity and access management (IAM), security assessment and testing, and security architecture and engineering. You’ll need at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains included in the (ISC)² CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). It’s an advanced certification that is best suited for those in roles such as CISO, CIO, director of security, IT director or manager, security systems engineer, security analyst, security manager, security auditor, security architect, security consultant, and network architect.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a CISSP certification is $126,000 per year.
Cisco offers several certifications at the entry, associate, professional, and expert level, and these certifications regularly top the list each year as being in-demand for IT pros. Certifications are offered in a variety of topics such as collaboration, CyberOps, data centers, DevNet and automation, design, enterprise networking, and security. The certifications are generally designed for network engineers, system engineers, CyberOps analysts, and network security analysts who want to grow and certify their skills and expertise. Cisco’s lineup of certifications is vendor-specific, typically focusing on Cisco products and services, so if you’re in a role working with Cisco products, it’s a great way to get a leg up.
Salary for Cisco certifications ranges depending on the certification, but the average salary for CCNA certified IT pros is $87,000 per year, while the average salary for CCNP certification is $104,000 per year.
CompTIA offers a variety of certifications for IT pros at every stage of their IT careers, and the CompTIA A+ certification is its entry-level IT certification covering the foundations of hardware, technical support, and troubleshooting. The certification is designed for those interested in a career as a service desk analyst, help desk tech, technical support specialist, field service technician, help desk technician, associate network engineer, data support technician, desktop support administrator, or end user computing technician. To earn your CompTIA A+ certification you’ll have to pass two separate exams. The CompTIA A+ 220-1001 exam covers mobile devices, networking technology, hardware, virtualization and cloud computing, and network troubleshooting. The CompTIA A+ 220-1002 exam covers installing and configuring operating systems, expanded security, software troubleshooting, and operational procedures. While it is an entry-level certification, it’s recommended to have at least 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience in the field.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a CompTIA A+ certification is $70,000 per year.
Microsoft Azure certifications
Microsoft Azure is a popular cloud services offering used by enterprises across every industry, and Microsoft offers several certifications to validate your skills and abilities working with Azure. You can select from several different versions of certification, including ones designed specifically for roles such as administrator associate, security engineer associate, solutions architect, IOT developer, data base administrator, data engineer, data analyst, AI engineer, and data scientist. Microsoft also offers certifications focused on fundamentals, specific job roles, or specialty use cases. Certifications range in expertise and experience from the fundamental level up to expert. It’s a widely recognized certification in the industry, enabling IT pros to validate that they have the specific skill set and knowledge that businesses are looking for when it comes to leveraging Azure in the workplace.
The salary for each Azure certification depends on its specific focus, but according to PayScale, the average salary for those with Microsoft Azure skills is $100,000 per year.
Professional Scrum Master (PSM)
Offered by Scrum.org, the Professional Scrum Master (PSM) certification is one of several Scrum-focused certifications for validating that you have knowledge of the Scrum framework, and the ability to apply it in real-world situations. The certification is offered at three levels, PSM I, PSM II, and PSM III, with each level covering a different scope and depth of the Scrum framework. At the entry level, the PSM certification covers the fundamentals of Scrum, focusing on the terminology and application of Scrum in Scum Teams. At the second level, the PSM certification focuses on Scrum Master accountabilities, and dives in deeper into how Scrum Teams function. At the third, and highest, level of certification the PSM exam covers deeper knowledge, how to use Scrum to help influence organizational change, and how to coach and teach others on the Scrum framework.
According to PayScale, the average salary for a PSM I certification is $101,000 per year.
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