10 Tech Certifications That Pay Out Mega-Bucks

Which certifications pay the most? Considering the amount of time, effort, and money needed to earn a certification, that’s a question on the forefront of many a tech professional’s mind.

Fortunately, a number of organizations routinely break down which certifications are best for your bottom line. IT training firm Global Knowledge is one of the most comprehensive, with a global survey of 12,271 tech professionals.

According to that popular survey, tech professionals love their certifications, with 85 percent reporting they hold at least one. And why not? There’s a clear correlation between earning at least one certification and a notable pay bump—in North America, according to Global Knowledge, tech professionals with at least one certification make seven percent more than their non-certified colleagues.

Moreover, salary keeps climbing with each new certification earned; in North America, those tech professionals with six or more earn an average of $117,212, some $12,875 more than professionals with none.

Of course, not every study aligns with this data from Global Knowledge; earlier this year, an update to the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index (from Foote Partners, LLC) showed that many certifications had lost their value on the open marketplace, while a select few—including ones for cybersecurity and project management—resulted in notable increases in salary for their holders.

With all that in mind, which certifications pay the most? According to the Global Knowledge rundown, cloud-related certifications result in big cash: GCP Cloud Architect tops their list (with an average related salary of $152,129) while AWS certifications (such as AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate) fill three of the top ten slots. There’s also Project Management Professional, which analysts often cite as a very big deal for technologists who want to expand into management at some point.

Check out the full chart:

Interested in getting certified in the inner workings of Amazon’s cloud infrastructure? There are a number of certification tracks for AWS, which makes sense considering the broad array of features on the AWS platform. Anyone who’s gone through the process will tell you that earning any AWS certification is a lot of work, with tough exams that require a good deal of knowledge. However, the data shows that there’s a significant payoff to that hard grind.

Certifications Training

Employers recognize that certified employees are vital, and many are willing to pay for training—but they might need a little push before shelling out the cash (and allowing you to schedule the training and class time, if necessary). The key is to show your manager that getting certified is invaluable to your job; it’s much harder to convince them to pay for something that’s only tangentially related to what you’re already doing for them, unless they’ve expressed an interest in moving you into a different segment or division.

Fortunately, more employers seem to be onboard with helping employees get certified. One study shows 55 percent of companies are willing to pay for continuing education (including getting employees certified), a 22 percent increase since 2016. If your company won’t invest in you—especially when tech-industry unemployment is so low—that’s a potential red flag about your career there.

20 Responses to “10 Tech Certifications That Pay Out Mega-Bucks”

    • The news headlines are constant: “Tight job market”…yet with multiple certs, 2 advanced degrees, professionally prepared resumes, and modest minimum requirements, I cannot even get an interview. Last week, I applied for a job which eventually had something I’ve never seen: over 2500 applicants.

      Something is seriously wrong with official metrics.

    • Sometimes this is more of the marketing information for the certification industry.
      But in my opinion, there is a number of factors to keep in mind.
      Experience is very important, sometimes its catch 22.
      If you are already experienced IT professional you may get an advantage. Same for other certs. Let’s say you have years of IT experience including project management and you decided to become a PM, earning PMP. Your chances to get PM job in IT are much higher than someone who didn’t work in IT but earned the APM and later PMP cert maybe they did some project management in the construction industry. So their chance to get PM job in Construction field will be higher. Same applies for aws.
      If you are competing with candidates.
      Another factor is the geographic location. Some in order to get into the role are willing to relocate and get the job in locations where its harder to find certified candidates.
      After gaining experience it may be easier to find a job in the area of your choice.

  1. Julius,

    What kind of professional experience do you have in those domains? What are you doing with the certs right now?

    Amazon states that the associate certs are for people with about a year experience doing that already. It’s possible to study up for them, but if you’re not getting regular practice at them, you’ll lose the skill like a programming language you just learned for a project and then didn’t use again.

    If you’re not doing paid work that involves those skills, pick up a hobby that does.

  2. I have PMP , Scrum Master Certified, Scrum Product Certified and I can’t get past the first or second interview . I was contracting for the last ten years now nothing. And I wasn’t when I was working as a PM getting paid that much.

  3. Chris Adams

    A Scrum Master certificate that translates into $132k? Come on. The Scrum Master position does not provide that much value to a software team. It is a simple low level management/micromanagement role.

  4. Bunga Party

    PM and SM salaries are just too high imo. Even with Certs, they are not getting as much as reported here.

    SM’s can serve the teams, but it has to be a right SM…especially one with technical/domain knowledge. Most of today’s SM’s are mostly bull$hitters…just talk and talk and not really that useful.

  5. Barry Lynch

    You can all take what ever position you like. However, where you work in relation to the technology jobs available as well as the type of technology that is being developed is key. Areas like the “Silicon Valley” and of course Silicon Valley North are prime examples. Particularly sense in the “Silicon Valley” there exist a “technology development spirt” like nowhere else in the world. As such the technical skills and certifications a technical professional needs is absolute. Customer’s enterprises require it. These areas offer the latest and most advanced technologies for professional growth.

    You have technical experience from company in the “Silicon Valley”, you get hired. End of Story.


    • Drakorian

      Ok so you get the certs and network and are offered a 150k a year job..,
      But it is located in a large city in CA, NYC, WA, etc… starting bid for a crappy 3/2 house in these places over 1M and that is still a 2 hour commute each way. Even in DFW Texas which pays lower the houses are 500k or more.
      So unless you already own with a lot of equity or come from a family that is wealthy AND generous good luck saving for a house especially now since rents are outrageous in these cities as well.
      When you see $100k jobs advertised it all depends where they are located.
      A 90k job that offers full time telecommuting (or expensed travel) is more valuable than a 150k job in an expensive area where you have to be on site normal working hours.

  6. The average pay for a scrum master cert is misleading. An official certificate from a 3 day ‘training’ is pretty worthless. Luckily most people don’t pay for this nonsense out of pocket.

    CSM means nothing if you aren’t already in a project mgr capacity.

    So since I let mine expire, does that mean I’m any less capable?