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.

26 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.

      • 1:10 PM 11/14/2020

        @julius AND @Buck:

        Me:

        3 college degrees … not 1, not 2, … 3

        over ~36+ years IT experience

        4 EXPERIENCED silos:
        TECH – technologist (hands-on) across most ALL my specialities
        PROJECT – project/program management, tech/team lead, etc
        MANAGEMENT – IT Manager, IT Director
        CONSULTING – Senior and Principal Consultant

        worked for some of the largest firms in world: IBM, Cognos, HoneyWell, RockWell, FORTIS, Johnson Controls, Johnson Wax, TIME Insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, American Family Insurance, American Appraisal, .gov, etc, list goes on and on

        travelled, world over, architecting, designing, building IT

        over ~15,000+ résumés out (yes, you read that right, OVER FIFTEEN THOUSAND)

        ~36 jobs fairs since August 2017 and before COVID hit, each jobs fair had average ~100 employers’ tables, dropped résumés at EVERY EMPLOYER at EVERY JOBS FAIR … that’s another ~3,600 résumés

        know people that sent out 1-10 résumés and found IT work pushing or paying six figures WITH LESS THAN HALF MY EXPERIENCE

        know H1B hadjis who don’t know how to shine your shoes but were handed IT work paying mid to high six figures

        I’m white male, 59, MidWest, near Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis … not in any podunk going-nowhere location(s)

        I get many calls and interviews

        I get ZERO offers

        they are using me, interviewing me to prove to EEOC that they interviewed a white older guy but didn’t “qualify”, they fill up their EEOC Affirmative Craption audit file with guys like me and interviews like mine

        THIS IS WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING:

        — first off, make no mistake, the H1B hadjis are stealing your jobs right out from under you, with criminality, with corruption, with impunity, and WashDC does NOT give a rat’s ass tinker’s damn but, in fact, are complicit in destruction of US STEM, ESPECIALLY WHITE MALES

        — H1B hirees who have become hirers who have co-opted management positions, especially in large companies, are CRIMINALLY CORRUPTIVELY MASSIVELY DISCRIMINATING against American IT and STEM workers, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE WHITE AND MALE, and hiring only other hadjis NO MATTER THE CANDIDATES’ EXPERIENCE according to their eff’ed up caste crap, EXAMPLES: fed .gov, Silicon Valley, Kohl’s, etc … I have witnessed and experienced and seen this firsthand

        — offshoring

        — outsourcing

        — PERM laws (look it up)

        — MASSIVE age discriminations ESPECIALLY OVER ~35

        — MASSIVE ethnic discriminations, ESPECIALLY AMERICAN WHITE MALES OF ANY AGE

        — MASSIVE gender discriminations especially against any IT women aged ~45+ and ESPECIALLY IT women aged ~50+

        — these disciminations are FELONIES at the federal level and yet fed .gov, including SCOTUS, completely ignoring and, in some cases, passing laws to make it EASIER to discriminate … look it up

        — you and your résumé are “stale”, especially according to your local hirers, especially if you’re trying to stay local and are white male over 35 — another excuse used for age discrimiinating

        — after you been out a while, attitude of hirers is, “if nobody else wants you, why would we” no matter how much experience you have … it’s a vicious circle that the longer you’re out, the worse their attitude gets – past ~90 days unemployed, you’re not “fresh” any more

        — LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION … it IS a serious factor

        — your résumé and interviewing stink … think only MACHIAVELLIAN … the end justifies the means here … tell ’em everything they want to hear up to and including lying – the H1B hadjis do it constantly and are handed jobs and six figure salaries

        — your IT job is dying … for instance, traditional NW engineering is MASSIVELY dying, NW engineers are now expected to also be developers and much more … what they expect is almost impossible to keep up and fulfill

        — corruption in hiring

        — morons, stupidity, ignorance, inexperience in HR, recruiting, and hiring

        — most companies are HUGE time and money wasters in hiring and are cheap ass penny pinchers and don’t want to pay what IT is worth and they assume you want big salary and title WITHOUT asking you … most unemployed IT will be very compromising to get back to work

        — the list goes on and on

        IT IS NOT YOU!!!
        IT IS THEM!!!
        IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN THEM!!!

        After a HUGELY successful IT career, and now long-term unemployment, for the reasons listed above and many more, and as I watch myself grow older, I have absolutely NO answers. How to fight the corruption in IT hiring these days is The Holy Grail of mysteries and I have no answers. I never expected, in all my born days, to EVER see the IT industry I spent most of my life and career in turn in to the corruption and sewage it is now.

        … and, make no mistake, I know, after over ~36+ years in, this once GRAND industry is, without a doubt, an eff’in sewer.

    • 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?

  7. MICHAEL R HOWARD

    I know this article is over a year old now, but I still wanted to add a comment.

    Certs are great… if your company values them. Mine does not. I have 35+ years in the tech industry, with 20 of those at the same company. Asked my employer if I could hope for a fair jump in pay if I were to obtain some certs (in relevant areas, of course). Flat out… NO. They already know that I know everything that is required to make their systems stable and useful. They know that if we need to do something new, I study up, implement and administer it without issue. Those certs would be a worthless expense for me; nothing more than something pretty to hand on my wall. Basically, certs are worthless to the guy working for a small company in the midwest.

    • Austinite

      Check out Austin, Texas. I lived in the Midwest for 37 years and then moved here. Tons of IT jobs. Also, you can live somewhere like Buda or Cedar Park and find reasonable housing, but a bit of a commute. Many people work from home. You trade winters indoors for 100-degree-plus days indoors here, but IMO it’s a great trade-off — even if it just keeps the salt off of my car from snowstorm clean up. Many companies here do value certs. Might be worth a look but only if you want to move…

    • Michael,
      I read through this as well. I’ve been in IT for 20 years now myself. The certs can be useful only in certain situations and to help you make a jump to another company. Some situations do require some type of certification, especially government work. I typically do some kind of cert once every 3 years now as they arent all that useful anymore. The top tier certs CCIE or PMP still have their place but those pretty much are proving that you already can do the work. Whenever I hear someone say they want to earn the PMP, my first question is how many trackable hours of managing projects do you have, not just working on projects, but running them. Most people have no idea that you need 4,500 hours of PM experience to sit the exam. And for those who cant get past a first interview with a PMP, you might want to talk to someone about your interviewing skills. You may honestly stink at interviewing. I’ve been on a few hiring-side interviews and there are some people that look great on paper, but within five minutes, I know I would never be able to work with them as a manager.