IT Certifications With the Biggest Pay Bumps


Which IT certifications pay the most? According to new data from Foote Partners, the following saw median pay premiums increase significantly over the past year:

  • Cybersecurity Forensic Analyst (16 percent)
  • Open Group Master Architect (16 percent)
  • Program Management Professional (16 percent)
  • Open Group Master Certified IT Specialist (15 percent)
  • TOGAF 9 (15 percent) has a breakdown of the other top-performing certifications, which include GIAC Reverse Engineering Malware (GREM), Infosys Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP/CISSP), and Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA). Foote Partners, which gathered its data from 2,600 employers, cautions that these salary increases don’t necessarily predict which certifications will be most “in demand” next year; only that there’s a clear need on the part of employers for tech pros who are formally qualified in certain core areas.

Beyond that, it’s fairly easy to see why some of these certificates are so capable of boosting pay. For example, in the wake of several high-profile data breaches, cybersecurity forensic analysts (along with other security experts) are necessary to keep corporate databases safe; now more than ever, security is front-of-mind for executives.

In a similar vein, companies need master architects and management professionals capable of building systems that can scale. Fierce competition among tech companies means growing as fast as possible—even if it means deferring revenue, at least in the short term—is a key goal.

While many tech pros devote serious time and effort to earning certifications, there’s a line of argument among some in the tech community that certifications aren’t necessarily worth pursuing, given the speed at which technology evolves, and employers’ independent tests to verify job applicants’ skillsets.

For every employer who’s willing to give an uncertified employee a shot, however, there are many more with non-negotiable demands for certificates from candidates. For that reason alone, earning certifications should be a prime consideration when considering whether to enter the tech industry.

10 Responses to “IT Certifications With the Biggest Pay Bumps”

  1. My Security+ Certification has done absolutely nothing for me. Even with an associates degree in information security. The certification was not worth the time or money spent. Now with CompTIA wanting you to pay yearly fees to keep up the certification, it is definitely not worth it. I would only get a Security+ if your employer will pay for it.

  2. jamie moore

    What do I need to earn a Help Desk career? I’ve applied to these tech support positions and the recruiters wanted someone with an A+ Certification and call center experience.

    I’m going to go to a community college online and was wondering what courses should I take. Is the A+ certification all I need?

    I have no call center experience nor any education in Help Desk. I’d like to get a work from home Tech Support job first then go to a physical location after gaining experience.

  3. @Jamie Look into A+/Network+ and Security+ certifications. These certifications can help build up your resume in order to get your foot in the door for a help desk position. Good luck trying to get a work from home position. I would think it would be easier to get a position at a actual location.

    @Jr I know this is contrary to what I just recommended above to Jamie but I agree with you about Security+. Its a good starting point but most employers aren’t looking for it. Unless you have some type of DoD installation/base around you. Than its pretty much mandatory as you need it to meet the DoD 8570 requirement.

  4. Certification with no experience is not worth much. Certification with education is worth something. Certification + Education + Experience differentiates you. Anything that helps you be different than others can help. If you already have a job, most employers WILL NOT tie a raise or bonus to any certification – but they might help you achieve one. If you want to do IT as a career and not just a job, then pick a path you’ll enjoy and do the certs just in case you find yourself job hunting. If you are going to work in government/military, large business, or in consulting/contract labor, then you will need some credentials despite what some say. The feds require security and other certs, depending on the job. People can say all the negative they want to, but getting something like PMP or CISSP is only going to help you, as some career doors will be closed to you without them.

  5. Rick Bishop

    To start in a help desk position, focus on Windows 7, Security+, network+, in that order. A+ is hardware and hardly anyone “fixes” hardware any more – most just replace the box and toss the non-working PC. Industry will not adopt Win 8 and 10 is just coming out, so a Win 7 cert is a must. After those 3, decide on which branch of tech you want to go into and don’t plan on staying on the help desk forever. Move on to Database, Wireless, Citrix, or one of the Security-related certs to move up quickly. Security and Wireless are probably in the most demand right now.

  6. What employers want to see on an application is a farce. There is no prediction that can help you land a job, because every employer claims to want arbitrary combinations of a particular degree, certificate, or language. Any employer that looks for a specific language rather than concept should be dragged into the town square to be tarred and feathered. Any candidate that is disqualified because that person knows something like SQL instead of NoSQL is unfairly being discriminated against, because want to companies don’t want to invest a dime in their employees any more. Even for entry level positions, they want you to pay for the exact experience they are looking for. How many times have anyone been passed over for unpaid internships, because they don’t have the real world experience they’re supposed to get from the internship. Employers need to criminally investigated for the false advertising in their job posting.

  7. You said a mouthul Brian. Not too long ago in the past employers would at least help pay for these expensive certifications and training but not anymore. I no longer know how to keep up with certs working for peanuts at 3-4 months then unemployed for 2 then back to work at a whole new job

  8. Frustrated

    @Brian nailed it. Its a bunch of BS now because employers basically want H1-B visa holders so they can pay them next to nothing. Stay away from tech if you are new to the idea.

    If I interview for a job and they explain how they want certs, I tell them to check out recent grads from the community colleges.

    Peace Out.