15 Technology Certifications with Highest Average Pay

Around 40 percent of technologists plan on pursuing new certifications within the next six months, according to the latest Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report.

That report, which surveyed 9,500 technologists in 159 countries, also estimates that new certifications can boost technologists’ pay by $12,000. That’s a pretty significant number. But which specific certifications translate into the most money? That’s a tougher question.

Within North America, the five highest-paying certifications were in cloud computing and cybersecurity. In a smart twist, the analysts behind the Global Knowledge Report acknowledge that technologists who pursue certifications generally tend to rack up more than one; in order to build their list of the top-paying certifications, they blended in other factors, “including relevant skills, job role, tenure, geography, and dedication.” Here’s the result of that analysis:

Many of these certifications demand extensive training and knowledge, and show that the bearer truly has what it takes to manage complex, highly specialized situations. For example, Certified Information Security Manager certification (CISM), administered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association – ISACA, shows the holder can manage security infrastructure across an organization. In a similar fashion, CISSP, a vendor-neutral and advanced-level credential offered by the ISC2 (International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium), requires knowledge of everything from security and risk management to software development security. (Cybersecurity certs in general are generally demanding to earn.)

Deciding to pursue a particular certification can also send you on a rather complex path, one where you’re continually upgrading your certifications to meet technology advances. For example, AWS certifications fall into a handful of tiers, including Foundational, Associate, Professional, and Specialty. Before pursuing a cert, make sure you know what you might be getting into over the long term.

If you pursue a Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect certification (the highest-paying on this list), you’ll be expected to know how to design and plan cloud infrastructure, with an eye toward intricacies such as security and compliance. In addition, you’ll also have to “analyze and optimize” technical and business processes; as with many certifications, you’ll need to know more than just the technology—you’ll also need to recognize the impact that technology might have on the larger business. Still interested? Here’s the exam guide.

As Global Knowledge acknowledges, simply landing a certification doesn’t translate into a huge, automatic pay bump. No matter what your area of specialization, always make sure that your skills are up-to-date, and that you’re in full command of your soft skills such as communication and empathy—in many cases, those matter as much as your technical abilities. 

18 Responses to “15 Technology Certifications with Highest Average Pay”

  1. I have 3 of these and still get paid like crap:

    CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) $138,647
    CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) $128,086
    Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate $122,768

  2. I see survey after survey like these on “which are the best paying certs to get”. I think they must be plugging in a random seed and requesting a random number. Certainly these aren’t realistic in most areas. Just shows how out of touch the writers and cert industry is with the real world

    • Loosebwep

      Agreed. I’ve got over 40 years of experience in computing (I was a core assembler programmer for the DecNet Phase III DDCMP communications drivers for Dec in the 80’s) and I took a new job this year for $50k as an L2/L3 tech (figured I would supplement my social security income). I did not negotiate the salary as I really didn’t need the job, just figured to keep my hands in the tech. It is nice to see some of the new tech out there, but I think I’m just going to finish the year then be completely retired. Good luck to all the younger ones out there though (I really don’t want to be in your shoes, it has gotten much too complicated).

      • Lawrence C. Hatcher

        LooseWep it was a joy to read your Post. We’re both Woodstock generation and after getting my AAS in the 80’s I was a mainframe Cobol programmer during the 90’s . Back then they were mainly looking for college grads but today you need certificates, etc., etc. and like you said it has gotten much too complicated now. I’m basically doing deskside support (furnishing keyboards, mice, telephones, etc.) to supplement my Social Security but my time is too short to bother with the hassle of getting a certificate because Lord willing in 28 months…I know you hear me. : )

  3. Wayne Green

    I’ve seen these rates with someone who has 10+ years of experience like PMP or CISSP but NOT coming into the field or with a few years. I agree with the other comments…each time I see these surveys they are the same blah blah. Lol not true. Friends who have these (Specific from Dallas to Atlanta areas) and are working do NOT get this pay yet.

  4. I say the above list of certifications is basic to those relative technologies. No technical manager wants to hire a guy who has certification but not actual real-time experience with those technologies. But you can get hired with experience but no certification.

  5. As a couple people posted, these are real salaries – but you can’t just get a cert with the words “associate” or “fundamental” without any experience and expect big pay. But once you get the experience, if you don’t get a good bump in pay and/or better role within a few years, then move on. With BS in Comp Sci, an add-on for Project Mgmt cert that matched PMI objectives, plus CCNA, Watchguard firewall cert and my old Novell CNE certs, I was making $106K plus $10K bonus 15 years ago, and in Florida where pay is typically lower. But I was also responsible for a global data network, corporate data center and staff, and had 15 years of experience. I have an employee who works for me now and complains about pay all the time: she only ever worked this one job, and I’m in non-profit sector now. Guess what? That won’t bring in the $$. But local government was paying help desk staff $38/hour, and I was making $106K as a network engineer (with on-call responsibilities). It’s all relative. Do you want $$$? Flexible schedule? Not be on-call? Everything has a tradeoff, and employment is a competition that requires you to properly pick your goals and market yourself.

    • Would you possibly be able to suggest a recommended course of action for someone trying to get into this field? Like which certs would you say are the most important? And how much experience before you can make decent money? Does it have to be specific experience, or can it be general IT experience, like IT asset specialist experience