Dice Tech Salary Report: Which Certifications Were Most Popular in 2021?

Certifications are often a source of uncertainty for technologists. Should they commit the time and energy (and money) to obtaining one? Will a particular certification help them land the job of their dreams? Are their colleagues interested in the same ones?

The answers to those questions can often shift wildly between technology subindustries. For example, many cybersecurity-related jobs ask for certifications, which drives cybersecurity specialists to obtain them. For other segments, though, certifications are seen as more “optional.” 

Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report makes clear that, while many technologists have obtained at least one certification, their numbers haven’t significantly increased over the past few years. As you can see from the chart below, which is featured in the report, the percentage of technologists with a technical certification rose only slightly between 2020 and 2021, returning to the same level (47 percent) as in 2019. Although many tech segments emphasize the importance of certifications (such as cybersecurity), it’s clear that many technologists don’t feel that certifications are necessary for their current role.  

Of those technologists who said they didn’t have certifications, 52 percent of them said certs weren’t needed for their role, up from 51 percent in 2020 and 48 percent in 2019. Meanwhile, just 11 percent of technologists said they didn’t think certs were valuable in their current role, down slightly from 2020 (when 12 percent shared that sentiment) and 2019 (when 14 percent did). 

The number of technologists who said their company refused to pay for certification training and testing also declined, from 15 percent in 2019 to 11 percent this year. That last data-point could hint at employers’ increasing willingness to pay for education and certification in order to keep valuable technologists onboard during a period when many workers are seeking new, better opportunities. 

As in previous years, the most popular certifications included CompTIA A+, which certifies technical support and IT operational skills (20 percent), along with CompTIA Network+ (13 percent), CompTIA Security+ (15 percent), Project Management Professional (PMP) (12 percent), and Certified ScrumMaster (11 percent). Infrastructure and/or cybersecurity certs, in other words, remain popular—and are certainly a requirement at many organizations that specialize in building, maintaining, and defending tech stacks. Take a look at the full breakdown:

While many technologists might not feel that certifications are required for their role, highly specialized certs can help job candidates prove their skill-sets to hiring managers and recruiters. Certifications also provide additional leverage in negotiations for salary, benefits, and increased responsibility