Which IT Certifications Are Most Valuable?
If you work in the IT industry, acquiring IT certifications is a great way of opening doors that will help you advance your career.
Not only does acquiring a certification help you increase your knowledge, it also helps you validate your skills, which is something recruiters and hiring managers will be looking for when hiring for positions in the IT industry.
According to a survey carried out by Global Knowledge, 44% of the employers surveyed felt that employees with IT certifications perform work faster, 33% felt that certified employees are more efficient when it comes to implementing systems, and 23% felt that certified employees are faster at deploying products and services with a lower likelihood of errors.
This shows that it is very important to have IT certifications in your arsenal if you want to advance your IT career.
In addition to opening doors for career advancement, IT certifications also increase your chances of earning a higher salary.
The same survey by Global Knowledge found that certified IT professionals in the US earn 11.7% higher on average than their uncertified counterparts.
While IT certifications are definitely good for your career, there are numerous IT certifications to choose from, and it might be a bit of challenge deciding which is best for you and your career.
To make the choice easier for you, we have compiled a list of 10 of the most valuable IT certifications.
Go through them and find one that is most suitable for you.
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
- Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
- Certified information Security Manager (CISM)
- Certified ScrumMaster
- AWS Certified Developer – Associate
- Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
- Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching
AWS CERTIFIED SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT – ASSOCIATE
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been growing in popularity as a top cloud platform of choice, and as such, there has been a growing demand for solutions architects certified in this platform.
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate validates an individual’s proficiency in all elements of AWS applications, from designing and testing applications to deploying and providing technical support.
It also shows that an individual is able to keep development cost effective without compromising on factors such as quality, reliability and security.
This certification has remained among the top IT certifications for the last five years or so, which shows just how much demand there is for this certification.
In order to be eligible for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification, you need to have at least one year’s hands-on experience designing and developing applications on the Amazon Web Services platform.
In addition, you also need to be conversant with trends and best practices around designing applications on the Amazon Web Services platform and proficient with at least one high-level programming language.
The exams for this certification, which are offered at PSI testing centers, will cost you about $170, $20 being the fee for the practice exam, and $150 for the main exam.
The exam, which is computer based and takes about 80 minutes, tests a wide range of topics, including choosing the most appropriate AWS services for different situations, designing applications on the platform, ingress and egress of data within the platform, cost estimation and cost-control measures.
Someone with the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate will typically get a job as an applications architect.
The average annual salary for someone with this certification ranges between $130,000 and $135,000. Someone who has already earned this certification can take it a step further by going for the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional.
CERTIFIED IN RISK AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS CONTROL (CRISC)
The certification is offered by ISACA (Information Systems Audit & Control Association), an IT non-profit that has become a recognized standard for information systems security management.
According to the ISACA, this certification prepares IT professionals for the unique challenges that they are likely to face in IT and enterprise risk management.
The CRISC certification validates an individual’s knowledge and expertise in risk assessment, monitoring, response, management, mitigation, and reporting. These are the domains covered by the CRISC exam.
Professionals who have attained the CRISC certification can help organizations to understand business risk. They also have the skills needed to develop, implement, and manage information security controls.
In order to be eligible for CRISC certification, you need at least three years’ experience in at least two of the domains covered by the CRISC exam.
The exam is offered during two designated testing windows each year.
The exam, which is computer based, consists of 150 questions, which you have to answer within a four hour time frame. If you do pass the exam, you can expect to earn an annual salary of about $111,000.
Professionals with CRISC certification have been in high demand for quite a while now, and with enterprise reliance on cloud computing growing, you can expect the demand for CRISC certified professionals to keep increasing.
CERTIFIED INFORMATION SECURITY MANAGER (CISM)
Today, almost all aspects of business are conducted online, and at the same time, online security threats are evolving at a fast pace. This has led to an explosion in demand for IT security professionals.
It is the role of information systems security managers to oversee and guide security activities, provide long-term strategic planning for security activities and train junior staff.
The Certified Information Security Manager certification validates an individual’s proficiency with IT security at the management level.
The certification shows that an individual is well skilled in designing, building, and managing enterprise security initiatives. This is yet another certification that is offered and managed by the ISACA.
In order to be eligible for the CISM certification, one needs a minimum of five years’ experience in information security, three of which should have been spent as a security manager.
It is important to note that the CISM is not a one-time certification.
This means that, in order to maintain the certification, you will need to earn CPEs.
Application for the certification costs $50, while the exam fee is $575 for members and $760 for non-members.
The exam is computer based and is offered during two designated 16 week periods each year.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, the test consists of 200 questions on topics such as incident management, information risk management, information security governance, and so on.
Individuals who have earned a CISM get to work as Information Systems security managers.
The annual salary for this position ranges between $105,000 to about $140,000 per year, depending on the organization.
This is a well-known and well respected certification that is offered by the Scrum Alliance.
Achieving this certification shows that an individual has good knowledge of the Agile Scrum framework and is well versed with applying it at the workplace.
The role of a certified ScrumMaster is to lead teams and ensure they are proficient with the Scrum framework and that they are using the framework at their highest levels to meet their goals.
This certification is especially useful for program managers, technical project managers, project managers, product developers, project leads, and Scrum masters.
Aside from validating your skills with the Scrum framework, the Certified ScrumMaster certification also gives you a two year membership to the Scrum Alliance, which allows you to attend Scrum Alliance networking events, both locally and online.
In order to be eligible for the certification, you have to attend a two day Certified ScrumMaster workshop course.
The workshop is conducted by a Certified Scrum Trainer and must be attended in person. After the certification, you will then take the CSM exam, which consists of 24-35 questions.
The certification is only valid for two years, after which you will need to renew it.
To renew the CSM, one needs to earn 40 SEUs (Scrum Education Units) within the two years before you renew your certification. Once you become a Certified ScrumMaster, you can earn anywhere between $100,000 and about $140,000 per year.
AWS CERTIFIED DEVELOPER – ASSOCIATE
This is another very popular certification that is based on the Amazon Web Services platform.
The popularity of this certification stems from the rapid increase in the number of organizations that are turning to cloud-based applications, and particularly those based on the AWS platform, to remain competitive and quickly advance their reach.
The popularity of the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification has also been spurred by the explosive growth of industries such as mobile development and IoT (Internet of Things), all of which are highly dependent on cloud platforms.
This certification demonstrates an individual’s technical expertise in developing and maintaining AWS-based applications. It validates an individual’s proficiency in effectively using AWS SDKs to write code and interact with application services.
The AWS Certified Developer certification is slightly different from the AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification, which is more focused on designing solutions.
In order to achieve the AWS Certified Developer – Associate certification, you need at least six months hands-on experience with the Amazon Web Services platform and knowledge of at least one programming language.
The exam is computer based and tests a wide range of AWS related topics, including code-level security for access to AWS services, choosing the best AWS services for different situations, interacting with AWS services through SDKs, writing code that optimizes AWS services performance, and so on.
Like all AWS exams, the exam for the AWS Certified Developer – Associate is offered at PSI testing centers.
The exam takes 80 minutes. The average annual salary for AWS certified developers is about $115,000.
CERTIFIED ETHICAL HACKER (CEH)
Created and managed by the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council), the Certified Ethical hacker is a certification that is aimed at site administrators, security auditors, security officers, and any other professionals whose role is to ensure data and network security.
With the constantly increasing amount of cyber-security threats, it is no surprise that the demand for data and network security professionals is growing rapidly.
For instance, according to a report by Cisco, 31% of organizations have had their operational technology attacked by hackers.
Getting the CEH certification increases your chances of getting hired in various cyber-security positions.
The CEH certification demonstrates an individual’s abilities in checking an organization’s network defenses for any vulnerabilities, weaknesses or holes that can be exploited by hackers.
It shows that the person has mastered ethical hacking skills, which are internationally recognized and in-high demand and are highly useful for penetration testing.
The difference between an ethical hacker (also known as a white hat hacker) and a regular hacker (also known as a black hat hacker) is that while the black hat hacker tries to bypass computer or network security with malicious intentions, the white hat hacker does it in order to identify and fix security deficiencies.
Owing to the evolving nature of cyber-security threats, the CEH certification is constantly being updated to cover the emerging tools and techniques being applied by both security professionals and black hat hackers. In order to earn this certification, all you need is to pass the CEH exam.
The exam covers a wide range of topics, including general background knowledge, various aspects of cyber-security, security procedures and methodology, security analysis and assessment, cyber-security ethics, as well as various cyber-security tools, programs and systems.
Once you receive the certification, it will remain valid for three years, after which you will need to renew it.
To renew the certification, you have to earn 120 continuing education credits within the three years preceding your renewal application.
You can earn the credits by attending webinars, writing papers, attending conferences, and so on. You can check out more ways of earning credits from the EC-Council website.
While the certification is certainly costly (it costs $3,895), you can be confident that it will allow you to earn a decent salary.
The average annual salary for Certified Ethical Hackers is about $106,375.
CERTIFIED IN THE GOVERNANCE OF ENTERPRISE IT (CGEIT)
This is another certification that is offered and managed by the Information Systems Audit & Control Authority (ISACA).
This certification validates an individual’s knowledge and expertise in various aspects of IT governance, including advising, managing, and providing assurance services.
With the CGEIT certification, you can work in various IT related positions that involve significant assurance, advisory and management roles, such as being a Risk Management Officer, IT Consultant, IT Controller, IT Risk Leader, IT or IS director or executive, and so on.
In order to receive the CGEIT certification, you need at least five years’ experience in enterprise setting, providing oversight, advisory or managerial roles, or supporting IT governance initiatives in any other way.
You also need at least one year’s experience in at least one IT Governance framework, as well as more than one year’s experience with at least two CGEIT domains, which include resource optimization, risk optimization, benefits realization and strategic management.
Taking the CGEIT exam costs $575, but it is totally worth it. With the high demand for professionals who are highly skilled in enterprise IT, you can bet that the CGEIT is highly lucrative.
Someone with the CGEIT certification earns an average annual salary of $121,363.
CERTIFIED INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY PROFESSIONAL (CISSP)
Considering the high number of security-related certifications that have made it to this list, I believe you can already see how important cyber-security is.
The CISSP demonstrates an individual’s expertise in cyber-security, and is offered by the ISC (International Information Systems security Certification Consortium) and accredited under ANSI.
This certification is also formally approved by the United States Department of Defense and is the standard for the NSA’s ISEEP program.
Just like with the other security-related certifications, you can bet that there is a high demand for professionals with the CISSP certification.
The CISSP certification is perfect for those who work in roles such as systems engineering, auditing, and analysis.
As a CISSP, you will be responsible for determining the architecture, design, management, and controls that will help ensure security for your organization.
The CISSP is a widely recognized certification that demonstrates an individual’s knowledge, experience and excellence in these fields.
It is good to note that this certification is not a mere recommendation. Instead, it has achieved its highly recognized status due as a result of practical observation of the abilities of those who have earned the certification.
In order to be eligible for the CISSP, you need five or more years’ paid experience in two or more of the eight computer security domains on which the CISSP exam is based.
The eight domains include software development security, security and risk management, identity and access management, asset security, communications and network security, security operations, security assessment and testing, and security architecture and engineering.
You also need to have been a security manager for not less than three years. If you meet these requirements, you can then go ahead and take the CISSP exam, which is offered at Pearson Vue Testing Centers.
If one does not have the required work experience, they can earn still take the exam, but they will only earn an (ISC)2 Associate designation, which can later be upgraded to the full certification once the requisite work experience is achieved.
After earning the CISSP, you have to continue undergoing continuing professional education in order to keep your certification up to date.
Once you earn your CISSP, you can expect to earn average annual salary of $111,475.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL (PMP)
Created and managed by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the Project Management Professional (PMP) is one of the most recognized certifications available today for advanced project managing professionals.
The PMP certification gives employers and customers the assurance that you have the knowledge, experience and expertise to effectively define, plan, and implement projects.
Having the certification can mean the difference between getting hired or not. The PMP certification exam covers five key elements of a project: initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and control, and closing the project.
Before sitting for the PMP exam, you need to complete 35 hours of training related to the certification.
Additionally, those who have already have a Bachelor’s degree need at least 4,500 hours experience in project management, while those yet to achieve a Bachelor’s degree need a minimum of 7,500 hours experience in project management.
In order to maintain your certification, you will also need to achieve a minimum of 60 professional development units every three years.
According to the Project Management Institute, acquiring the PMP certification can help you earn up to 20% salary increase.
Once you attain your PMP, you can expect to earn an annual salary of anywhere between $100,000 and $140,000.
It is good to note that this certification is not restricted to the technology industry. While most employers in the IT industry look for candidates who are proficient in both IT and project management, this certification can help you gain employment in any industry.
CISCO CERTIFIED NETWORK PROFESSIONAL (CCNP) ROUTING AND SWITCHING
If you have already gotten your Cisco CCNA certification and are looking for a more advanced certification, the Cisco CCNP might be a good option for you.
The Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching certification, which is designed for network administrators and engineers, demonstrates that they have the skills needed to plan, implement, verify and troubleshoot problems within enterprise LAN and WAN networks.
Professionals with the CCNP Routing and Switching certification can also collaborate with other experts on voice, video, wireless, and advanced security solutions.
It is good to note that there are other CCNP options apart from Routing and Switching. These include Wireless, Service Providing, Security, Data Center, Collaboration, and Cloud.
In order to be eligible for the Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching certification, you need a minimum of one year’s experience in networking.
You also need to have completed the CCNA Routing and Switching certification, or any other CCIE certifications.
Considering that routing and switching is something that all organizations need, whether they keep their data on the cloud or locally, you can expect that demand for this certification will always be there.
With the Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching certification, you can expect to earn an annual salary of about $100,000.
Most IT positions are very critical to organizations, and therefore, before hiring candidates to these positions, employers and hiring managers want to be sure that the candidate they are hiring is knowledgeable and well experienced in the roles that come with the position.
Acquiring the necessary certification is a good way of demonstrating your knowledge, experience and expertise to potential employers.
In addition to making it easier for you to get a job, having one of the IT certifications covered in this article will allow you to earn higher salaries and move up the career ladder much faster.
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