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 the latest, with a global survey of 12,271 tech professionals.
According to that 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, the latest 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 Foote Partners cited in its own report as a very big deal, in terms of salary premiums).
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.
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.