14 Tech Certifications Increasing in Market Value

Average market values for hundreds of non-certified tech skills rose in the first quarter of 2020, according to a new analysis by research firm Foote Partners. Meanwhile, roughly 505 tech certifications continued to decline in market value. But did any certifications actually gain?

“The average cash pay premium for a tech certification is currently at its five-year low,” read the group’s report. “In the quarter ending April 1, 2020, 505 tech certifications lost even more value, down an average of 1.9 percent in the quarter. Pay performance from January to March 2020 was lower for all but one certification segment, Applications Development & Programming Languages.”

What’s behind this decline in certification value? That’s a difficult question to answer. Foote Partners hypothesizes that the popularity of certifications might actually drive down pay premiums, because the market is flooded with certified technologists. As supply fattens, demand slackens.

Certifications also age or become less useful as the overall technology industry evolved. “Also, there remains a lingering bias that taking a proctored exam does not confer expertise in a subject on the test taker, especially when the pass rate is 70 percent correct answers,” the report added. “The certification industry has fought back against this bias by adding laboratory requirements and even peer review panels that decide if the candidate has qualified to receive designation.” 

All that being said, which certifications are actually gaining value? Here’s how Foote Partners breaks it down:

Cyber Security Certifications 

Cyber security is a highly specialized field, as well as one much in demand. Based on that combination of factors, you’d figure that a cyber security certification would be worth a significant salary premium—and you wouldn’t be wrong. Whether you’re trying to land a job as a cyber security analystwhite hat hacker, or a professional tasked with hardware defense, a certification can help you stand out within a large application pool.    

Foote Partners suggests that the following cyber security certifications have enjoyed the biggest compensation increases:

EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) 
CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP) 

Average Pay Premium: 13 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 30 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst (GCFA)
Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)

Average Pay Premium: 13 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase:18.2 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

EC-Council Certified Incident Handler V2 (ECIH)
Average Pay Premium: 12 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 33.3 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN)
Average Pay Premium: 12 percent of base salary equivalent 
Market Value Increase: 20 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES)
Average Pay Premium: 12 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 9.1 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

GIAC Certified Enterprise Defender (GCED)
Average Pay Premium: 11 percent of base salary equivalent 
Market Value Increase: 22.2 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

GIAC Certified Forensics Examiner (GCFE)
Average Pay Premium: 10 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 11.1 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

Architecture, Project Management and Process

Project and product management are vital elements within any company’s roadmap, and technology teams depend on these leaders in order to keep initiatives on-schedule and under budget. 

Six Sigma Black Belt
Average Pay Premium: 12 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 20 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

Certification of Capability in Business Analysis (CCBA)
Average Pay Premium: 11 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 22.2 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

Six Sigma Green Belt
Average Pay Premium: 10 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 25 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

ITIL Expert Certification
Average Pay Premium: 10 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 11.1 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

Application Development and Management 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an enormously popular service among developers, cloud architects, and others tasked with managing their companies’ IT infrastructure, so it’s no surprise that one certification enjoying considerable compensation gains is related to it. (If you’re interested in bulking up on your AWS skills and certifications, there are quite a few foundational, associate, and professional certs you can pursue, including some that are very highly specialized). 

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
Average Pay Premium: 10 percent of base salary equivalent
Market Value Increase: 11.1 percent (in the six months through April 1, 2020) 

Remember, certifications aren’t vital for every job. For example, according to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, only 1.1 percent of postings for software developers and engineers requested certifications. However, some employers place a premium on them, especially for highly specialized roles in cyber security and other fields. 

16 Responses to “14 Tech Certifications Increasing in Market Value”

    • Donna S.

      You should check out Operation Code. It’s a Slack networking group for military and military vets working or training to work in IT. You won’t find a better community than Operation Code. There are mentors, scholars, and the best group if IT nerds in the world. I’m proud to be one of them!

  1. Robert C Bright

    I find it a bit odd that BI and AI Certifications aren’t included in this list at all. Especially AI. Data Science is crucial these days to help organizations understand where they are, how they got there, and where they are going.

    • You drank the data science kool-aid. Companies over-hired with data science, especially unicorns and start-ups wanting to be unicorns. In order to attract VC money, many start-ups took simple businesses like restaurants and hospitality then added teams of data science for pricing or CRM.

  2. Certs are nothing more than a Money making scheme, I’ve been in the IT Field since 83 and these are a joke. Save your money, Most New Job Interviews will determine if you have the stuff companies are looking for.

    • True. When you quiz certification proponents you usually hear something like:

      “When your employer increases you salary post-certification (a real ‘maybe’ there) this certification pays for itself in only four years.”

      “How long is the certification good for?”

      “Four years.”

      Welcome to the new treadmill.

  3. David Schropp

    I have a degree in Logistics and Six Sigma Green Belt Certified and graduated 2017.

    Not 1 job offer, what a bull shite economy:(
    Lastly, I have 13 years IT experience!

    • Marty

      I have 20+ years of IT experience and certifications and after 2 solid years of looking for a job … I’ve given up as it has turned out to be a complete waste of time. It takes time to submit application after application and I have submitted hundreds… 99.9% of the time I don’t even get an email back indicating that they received my application… it is pathetic. Then to advertise the same job month after month after month… I’m convinced that half or more of the advertised IT jobs are just fake and exist only to allow the corps to show our government that they can’t “find” any IT talent and need more visas to bring in the developers from other countries … just a scam.

      • AusGuy

        Marty,

        What is your skill set?

        I am with a large enterprise in Texas and we cant fill jobs in Cloud (AWS, Azure development), Devops around it & security engineers..

  4. Bill Clancy

    Wow…I guess I’m the odd fellow here. Got my first Certification in 1996 (Novell CNE), and it gave me a serious step up in my career. 2005 got my Security+, followed by CISSP resulting in a new job with a huge bump in pay. CISA, CISM, CRISC, CEH , more money & better jobs, recruiters call me constantly. I took a cert break until 2019, and I took the CCSP at the insistence of my employer. In high demand once again, frequently moving jobs every 12- 18 months, working for defense contractors large and small. If I hadn’t moved over to the Security arena, I don’t think I’d be much over 100k, this year I may bust 160k with a bonus. To each their own, but it worked for me. Some folks claim, “This is stupid”….yup it is, but if you know you can increase your value by taking a test, and you refuse to do it, that’s what’s stupid.

  5. Mrcerts

    Most people here don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to certs especially if they have not taken major certifications or been deep in the trenches of business security projects data devops etc. You need relevant certification otherwise you lose out. It the way it works. When you look for a job paying a six figure income and walk in empty handed and your colleagues have the certs you will be looked over it’s just a fact. Hate to break the news.

  6. Frank

    I have been in Cybersecurity for over 20 years amd manage a large team. No one looks for or cares about GIAC certifications. If you don’t first have your CISSP, you are clueless.

  7. Susan Johnson

    Very few people will be fortunate to have a long career in IT. When I lost my job in my 40’s, I called it the “three strike rule”. White, woman, over 40. Switch to nursing. Pays better, longer career…although at the moment, it’s not a great option. But since you need special training, start now with classes at accredited schools…not the run-of-the-mill vocational schools.

  8. George Joseph Varkey

    Certifications are good to have however you have to be good at what you know. Theoretical knowledge comes first before you implement technology. How you prepare and ace an interview is a whole different game. I have been a network engineer for 20+ years. Every year the opportunities get better. One has to learn strategies talking with recruiters and talking about solutions during an interview. Learn to become an authority. If you don’t have a variety of expertise on your profile you are doing a disservice to you and your organization. Companies look to hire talent that brings value to them. They are not hiring talent for certification. One has to be a go getter and take any technology and adapt to the environment a company operates.

  9. Sam Barnes

    I have been in the IT industry since the inception of Window and Novell was the heavy. I came up from a Network Admin to Project Manager running large global and enterprises teams. Certification are good to see because it tells me you may have a foundation of knowledge to pull from but without real world hands on practitioning, you’re dead in the water. Book knowledge means nothing and I have fired far too many certification gathers who run around with their hair on fire when things start dropping. Have both and you should be fine. Know your craft and like myself, I’ve maintained a six figure salary since 2001.