Top-Paying Technology Certifications of 2018, from ECIH to CCNA-Cloud

Earning a certification can increase your technical knowledge and help you gain the respect of your peers… but not all certifications result in higher pay.

Employers are often willing to pay a cash premium above base salary for tech pros with certifications in vital technology areas such as security, explained David Foote, chief analyst of Foote Partners LLC. They’re also willing to pay big for tech pros who are certified in emerging technologies, at least until the supply of talent catches up with demand. (And fortunately, employers have also shown a willingness to pay for employees’ certification classes.)

What are the best certifications to boost your pay? Here’s a look at the certs that registered the biggest gains in market value during the first half of the year, based on data collected for Foote Partners’ IT Skills and Certification Pay Index.  

EMC System Administrator, Documentum Specialist (EMCSyA)

Pay Premium: 8 percent of base salary.
Market Value Increase: 33.3 percent in the first six months. 

With unstructured data growing at a rate of 62 percent per year, businesses are looking for tools and platforms such as Documentum, as well as certified talent to manage unstructured data so that it is accessible, searchable, available and relevant.

EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (ECIH)

Pay Premium: 13 percent of base salary.
Market Value Increase: 30 percent in the first six months.

With the unemployment rate in cybersecurity basically at zero, it’s not surprising that the value of the ECIH cert increased 30 percent during the first half of the year.

Whether you’re looking to break into the cybersecurity field, or simply become more effective in your current role, the ECIH provides the fundamental skills to handle and respond to various security incidents such as network security breaches, malicious code incidents and insider attack threats.

SAS Certified Big Data Professional Using SAS 9

Pay Premium: 9 percent of base salary.
Market Value Increase: 28.6 percent in the first six months. 

You don’t necessarily need a business degree to score a great position in Big Data analytics if you complete this nine-course curriculum covering the fundamentals of statistics and analytics, reporting, data visualization and how to work with Hadoop, Hive, Pig and SAS.

Best of all, you can complete the entire program in two to 12 months, depending on your time commitment.

Cisco Certified Network Professional – Cloud

Market Value Increase: 28.6 percent in the first six months
Pay Premium: 9 percent of base salary

With cloud adoption rates on the rise, administrators, designers, architects, engineers and datacenter professionals can all boost their job security and market value by validating their proficiency in handling and responding to various security incidents. This cert also demonstrates your knowledge of cloud administration and ability to design and implement network, storage and cloud infrastructure solutions.

Getting this cert is a no-brainer, especially if your employer will cover most of the training and exam costs. 

GIAC Certified Forensics Examiner (GCFE)  

Market Value Increase: 25 percent in the first six months.
Pay Premium: 10 percent of base salary.

Although the value of the 92 information/cybersecurity certs tracked by Foote Partners grew .05 percent during the first half of the year, the biggest gainers involved auditing, ethical hacking, project management and forensics. The GCFE certification falls into this category.

Yes, each GCFE certification attempt costs $1,899 (and includes two practice tests), but this article from CSO outlines the four reasons why forensics will remain a pillar of cybersecurity despite the rise of security automation.

Foote also pointed out that PMs who complete a security training and certification program have seen their market value rise 10 percent during 2018.

VMware Certified Advanced Professional 7 – Cloud Management and Automation Deployment

Market Value Increase: 25 percent in the first six months.
Pay Premium: 10 percent of base salary.

This cloud credential (and its little brother,VMware Certified Professional 7 – Cloud Management and Automation Deployment, based on vSphere 6.5 and vRealize) recognizes IT professionals who can extend data virtualization throughout the cloud.

VMware Certified Design Expert 6 – Data Center Virtualization

Market Value Increase: 25 percent in the first six months
Pay Premium: 10 percent of base salary.

Demand for certified datacenter professionals with virtualization skills is at an all-time-high, with starting salaries averaging between $87,000 and $99,000, depending on your experience level.

Plus, the VCDE6-DCV sits firmly between traditional data center networking and cloud management, so it appeals to a wide networking audience, Foote said.

Note that candidates must thoroughly understand Domain Name System (DNS), routing and database connectivity techniques, and know how to deploy, configure, manage and scale VMware vSphere environments and storage at an advanced level.

EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

Market Value Increase: 25 percent in the first six months.
Pay Premium: 15 percent of base salary.

If you want to become a computer hacking forensic investigator, the CHFI covers a wide range of topics and tools, including an overview of digital forensics and the investigation process, working with digital evidence, anti-forensics, database and cloud forensics, and investigating network traffic, as well as mobile and email forensics. 

Cloudera Certified Data Analyst

Market Value Increase: 22.2 percent in the first six months.
Pay Premium: 11 percent of base salary.

Earning this certification shows that you can prepare, structure and analyze data in Cloudera’s CDH environment. It also demonstrates core analyst skills such as the ability to load, transform and model Hadoop data to define relationships and extract meaningful results from the raw output. 

Cisco Certified Network Administrator – Cloud

Market Value Increase: 20.0 percent in the first six months.
Pay Premium: 6 percent of base salary.

An entry-level credential, the CCNA-Cloud validates a professional’s ability to support cloud-based Cisco solutionsin an SMB cloud environment, and to support a senior cloud engineer in an enterprise environment.

Having this certification can also provide career opportunities for employees of business and channel partner organizations who are transitioning from other technical areas such as datacenter or networking. Furthermore, the CCNA-Cloud was recently named one of five best cloud certs by cloudnews.

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