12 Top Paying IT Certifications for 2022

ITCareerFinder examines salary data and hiring trends to determine the top paying IT certifications and why they demand a premium.

This article will be updated annually with the latest credentials and wages. Current year: 2022.

Top Paying IT Certifications

Do IT certifications really pay off? It depends.

According to the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index published by renowned analyst firm Foote Partners LLC, tech certifications continued their three-year plunge in value during the third quarter of 2021 and are now at their lowest point since early 2013.

However, there are still some IT certifications that employers are willing to pay extra for.

To ensure that you invest in the training and certifications that offer the highest potential return, here are 12 of the highest paying IT certifications for 2022.

  • SANS/GIAC Security Expert (GSE)

    The GSE certification is the most prestigious and valuable credential, topping Foote Partners’ recent list of highest-paying certs. However, it’s also among the most difficult to earn.

    With companies everywhere looking for solutions to burgeoning cyber security issues, GSE's rigorous, hands-on exam, lab exam and experience requirements – covering general security skills, incident handling, intrusion detection and analysis – sets it apart and makes it particularly valuable for individual contributors said David Foote, Foote Partners’ chief analyst & CRO.

    In fact, employers are willing to pay high salaries and median cash bonuses or premiums equivalent to 13% of base salary to tech workers and leaders who get GSE certified.

    For example, according to Foote Partners’ 2022 IT Professional Salary Survey, the average total cash compensation (including premiums) for certified cyber security specialists is $108,703, while certified senior-level specialists earn $133,161. Meanwhile, PayScale reports that the average salary for GSE-certified information security analysts is $100,000 and $189,000 for penetration testers.

    Before you start spending that extra cash, note that the pre-requisite baseline for the GSE is: GSEC, GCIH, GCIA with two Gold certifications.

  • GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN)

    Clearly, the demand for penetration testing skills and certifications will remain constant going forward, driven by regulation, compliance and ongoing business risk Foote said. That’s why employers are willing to pay median cash bonuses or premiums equivalent to 12% of base salary to professionals who attain the GXPN certification. Moreover, PayScale puts the average salary for GXPN certified IT pros at $107,000.

    The GXPN certifies that network and systems penetration testers, incident handlers, application developers and IDS engineers have the knowledge, skills, and ability to conduct advanced penetration tests, model the behavior of attackers and improve security in the popular Windows and Linux environments.

    Applicants need to pass a 3-hour proctored exam to earn the highly valuable GXPN.

  • GIAC Security Leadership (GSLC)

    For current information security managers, security professionals with leadership responsibilities or IT pros looking to move into management, earning the GSLC certification can boost your career and help you score a median cash bonus equivalent to 12% of base salary. The 3-hour proctored exam covers management issues related to the overall security lifecycle including governance and technical controls, incident response, staff, projects, application security and more.

    Currently, managers of information security with the GSLC earn average total compensation of $147,080, while lead IT security specialists earn $152,143 and directors of information security earn $200,006 according to the 2022 IT Professional Salary Survey. PayScale puts the average salary at $113,000 with senior leaders earning close to $200,000.

    Best of all, applicants can qualify through a combination of practical work experience, training, college courses or self-paced study.

  • InfoSys Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP/CISSP)

    “With millions of people working from home and connecting to an organization’s internal network remotely, the role of security architect is more important than ever,” Foote said.

    Companies are having to “rearchitect everything” to increase security and reduce the risk of cyber-attacks and data breaches he expanded.

    It’s no wonder that the CISSP with the architecture extension has increased in value. According to Foote, security architects can command premium pay equal to 12% of base salary and total cash compensation of $130,770, leaving little doubt that the ISSAP certification is a worthwhile investment for professionals who want to build on their expertise in information security architecture.

  • InfoSys Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP/CISSP)

    If you have two or more years’ experience in engineering and already hold the CISSP, obtaining your ISSEP certification can lead to greater opportunities and higher wages. This in-demand cert has increased in value by 33% over the last six months and commands average pay premiums of 12% on top of average annual base salaries of $151,000 according to PayScale.

    To sit for the ISSEP examination, you must be a CISSP in good standing and have two years cumulative, paid work experience in one or more of the five domains of the CISSP-ISSEP CBK.

  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

    Most IT pros start their journey to ISSEP or ISSAP concentration by earning a valuable core security credential and prerequisite, the CISSP certification. This baseline, vendor-neutral cert – which covers 8 domains and general concepts of information security – can benefit the careers of everyone in IT.

    To illustrate, PayScale lists some 350 job tiles under the CISSP with an average salary of $117,000. If you want to specialize in cyber security, The New York Times reports that there will be 3.5 million unfilled jobs globally by 2021, up from one million positions in 2014.

    Suffice it to say, showing employers that you not only understand security concepts, principles and tools but also the most pertinent issues around cyber security, will greatly increase your power at the salary negotiation table.

  • Six Sigma Master Black Belt

    Having a Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification signals to employers that you have the skills and knowledge to manage projects successfully, a passion for quality and process improvement, and the ability to lead and coach team members. In fact, because of its focus on improving profitability, many companies are actively recruiting Six Sigma Black Belts and market demand is higher than ever.

    Speaking of profitability, the market value increase for Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification was 9.1% in the six months through July 1, 2021 and the average total compensation was listed at $169,170 in Foote Partners’ IT Salary Survey.

    Applicants are required to pass an exam, have a minimum 4 years’ experience executing Six Sigma Projects in a Black Belt Capacity (or equivalent), and submit a project for review on a pass/fail basis.

  • The Zachman Certified Enterprise Architect

    In the past, enterprise architects found it hard to prove their worth to the organization and sustain job security, so the Zachman Framework was born. In a nutshell, the popular framework helps resolve those issues by providing a matrix or formal way to manage a company’s enterprise architecture and assets.

    With businesses grappling with rapid transformation and accelerated AI, enterprise architecture is making a comeback and some companies are even making the Zachman certification a requirement Foote said. A distinctive element of this program is reality-based learning or the process of integrating theory with work and life experience. Even better, the average premium for certificate holders is 12% on top of base salaries averaging $135,003.

  • Certified Scrum Master

    Why is scrum the most popular Agile framework for iterative software development? Because it’s easy to implement and it works. While product owners, project managers, developers and also trainers and coaches can benefit from certification, the World Economic Forum ranked scrum master 6th in their list of product development jobs of tomorrow. And employment data firm Burning Glass predicts a 37.9-percent increase in demand for scrum masters over the next ten years.

    What’s more, according to Foote Partners’ data, certified scrum master certification holders can command 11% in median pay premiums or bonuses above base salaries averaging $96,785.

  • PMI Program Management Professional (PgMP)

    How does an experienced and successful project manager take their career to the next level? By becoming a program manager. However, even though program management is a well-paid next step, becoming proficient at managing multiple related projects is not easy.

    Earning PMI's Program Management Professional certification can help you move forward with confidence, demonstrate your competency to prospective employers and earn median pay premiums of 11% above base salaries that range up to $126,000. Plus, both high school and college grads can qualify by meeting the hands-on experience requirements and passing two evaluations.

  • CompTIA Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+)

    Data shows that earning CompTIA's intermediate-level CySA+ certification may help you earn more money and elevate your career no matter which role, area of specialization or industry you pursue. For example, InfoSec puts the national median salary for someone with CySA+ certification at $74,952 per year, but as high as $152,806 depending on your location and role.

    Plus, the hands-on, performance-based and multiple-choice assessment is also approved by US Department of Defense to fulfill Directive 8570.01-M requirements.

    After validating that you have the skills, techniques and knowledge to prevent, detect and combat cyber security threats inside and outside of organization, employers will reward you with bonuses or premium pay ranging from 8% to 13% of base salary according to Foote Partners.

  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

    With Gartner forecasting that worldwide spending on public cloud services will grow 23.1% in 2021 to total $332.3 billion in the wake of the pandemic, earning the CCSP certification is a great way to show that you know how to secure critical assets in the cloud and earn median annual pay premiums of 11%, regardless of your level or position.

    Although PayScale puts the average salary for CCSP certified pros at $118,000, the sky’s the limit. IT managers can earn base salaries of $185,000, while CTOs can earn $250,000.

    While the CCSP isn’t for newcomers, showing commitment to ongoing development can demonstrate your leadership potential to employers and lead to new and exciting career opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Although almost any certification can enhance your resume and raise your market value, it’s clear that companies are most concerned about advanced persistent threats and protecting valuable data and information. Until supply catches up with demand, earning any one of these cyber security certifications can give you a competitive advantage and the best opportunity to earn high salaries, bonuses and potentially move into management.

Methodology

Our list of the top-paying IT certifications is based on customized data contained in the latest Foote Partners’ IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index and the firm’s 2022 IT Professional Salary Survey. The reports are based on compensation data provided by 3,805 private and public-sector employers in 83 American and Canadian cities who report pay for their 345,313 technology professionals in the US and Canada.

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IT Certification Path for Network Administrators

Darril Gibson, certified technical trainer and best-selling author of IT study guides, lays out a rock-solid IT certification path to begin or advance your career as a network administrator.

it networking certification path

Aspiring IT professionals frequently ask me questions like “How can I get into an IT job?” and “What is the best IT certification path for a network administrator?” Unfortunately, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer because there are so many variables, such as how much knowledge you start with and what type of jobs are available where you live.

However, if you are focused on landing an IT job and you‘re willing to take the time to master the materials, you can earn several certifications that will make you highly desirable as a network administrator, one of the industry’s most essential and opportunity-rich positions. Learn the material, earn the certifications, and you’ll have an opportunity to shine at network administration job interviews.

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Best Project Management Certifications for IT Pros

Experienced IT project manager, Mary Kyle, breaks down the most valuable PM certifications for tech professionals and software developers.

best project management certs

The field of Project Management is hands-down one of my favorite career paths. Project management is challenging. It pulls in elements of resource management (human and tangible), planning, scheduling, risk mitigation, scope, finances, and so much more. For individuals with an eye to detail and who love the challenge of taking a mere concept from initial planning to the final product, then project management just may be the career for you.

For IT professionals and developers, project management can be an exciting career opportunity. Project managers who possess technical skills are in high demand. A search for technical project managers on SimplyHired yielded over 90,000 job posting. Granted, this was just a snapshot in time but no matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of employers seeking project managers who possess technical skills! It’s a perfect win for employers as well as IT pros and developers.

Whether you’re a seasoned project management pro, looking to make a mid-career transition to project management, or simply exploring what project management is all about, certifications can help you achieve your career goals. There are many different project management certifications available today and selecting the right PM certification may appear daunting. How do you choose? In reviewing certifications, consider where you are in your PM career (entry level, mid-career or experienced). Has your organization adopted a specific project management methodology such as Agile, Six Sigma, or Scrum? Are you located in the US or another geography? These types of questions will help you select the cert program that is right for you.

Below, we’ll take a look at a few of my favorite project management certifications. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of PM certifications. But these are all well-respected, globally recognized, and sought after by employers. You’ll find them a welcome addition to your career portfolio.

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The Best IT Certifications for Beginners

If you want to break into the technology field, proactive training and experience – validated by industry-recognized IT certifications – is a great way to begin. These certifications are the best for beginning IT pros looking to land an entry-level position.

best it certifications for beginners

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost millions of Americans their jobs and made it difficult for 2020 college graduates to find work. Additionally, the advent of a larger remote workforce means the state of jobs today looks pretty different than it did just one year ago. Perhaps you’re looking to change careers. Now may be the perfect time. If information technology is a field that interests you, here’s what you need to get your resume noticed and your foot in the proverbial door.

Train Before You Get the Job

Yes, IT skills are in-demand right now. If you’re researching a career in IT you’ve probably read about the IT skills gap. Essentially this means that there are more technology jobs available than qualified professionals to fill them. The good news is, there are plenty of resources out there to skill up to get one of these in-demand positions. One of the best ways to validate your knowledge in the technology industry is via IT certification.

Certifications aren’t just about adding a gold star to your resume. The skills and knowledge gained through proper certification training and exam prep is exactly what IT departments need. The skills gap is slowly hurting organizations and the best solution is upskilled employees. Preparing for, and earning, an IT certification(s) is one of the best ways to gain the critical skills employers need.

The Best Certs for IT Beginners

Before we get into the best IT certifications for beginners, let us first define “best.” It is, after all, a subjective term. Does best mean it will make you more money? Lead to more interviews? Or does best mean that employers are specifically looking for these credentials?

We have decided the “best” certifications for IT beginners are those that will help you get an entry-level job. To that end, we’ve matched desirable entry-level tech roles with the skills needed to land that job, then paired the most marketable certifications with those skills.

Here are the best IT certifications for beginners, segmented by 3 of the hottest technical domains:

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Top Paying IT Certifications for 2015

Top Paying IT Certifications 2015

In the rapidly shifting IT landscape, certifications are the most reliable tool employers have to validate your skills in the latest computer systems and IT job roles. These ten certifications will have the greatest impact on your salary in 2015 and beyond.

Technical training leader, Global Knowledge, and respected industry publication turned online community, Windows IT Pro, recently published their 2015 IT Skills & Salary Report -- featuring a comprehensive salary survey of more than 16,300 IT professionals -- giving us valuable insight as to just how much the leading IT certifications can increase your earnings.

Most remarkable this year is the dominance of information security credentials, sweeping the top three spots and representing half of 2015’s top 10 highest paying certifications. Certificates in network design and administration, as well as those that demonstrate knowledge on the business side of IT, in areas like project and service management, are also hot right now.

To reduce statistical anomalies, this list only includes certifications with at least 100 salary survey responses.

Here are this year’s highest paying technical certifications:

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How Important are IT Certifications for Landing that Dream Microsoft Tech Job?

Value of Microsoft Certifications

"Skills gap" is a phrase that anyone working in the digital skills arena will have heard a lot over the past couple of years. The information technology job market is booming right now, with open positions massively exceeding the number of qualified candidates available to fill them.

Job seekers have more choice, and more leverage, than ever before. But just because it’s a candidates’ market doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be pulling out all the stops to put yourself head and shoulders above your competition.

The growing talent shortage offers a tremendous opportunity to tech workers willing to throw themselves into that skills gap and fill it. Transforming yourself into the ideal candidate will not only put you ahead of others in the market, but it gives you leverage to land a higher salary and better benefits.

One of the best ways to bolster your skills and make your value abundantly clear is by earning certifications. In fact, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to give you the edge—a recent survey found that 54% of Microsoft tech professionals hold an official Microsoft certification, making it a smart move for those wishing to compete in the market.

Which certification is best for you depends on your career plans and what you’re looking to specialize in, but there’s no doubt that simply having an accreditation on your resume will boost your marketability. It could substantially improve your earning potential too; research by Microsoft found that 23% of Microsoft Certified technologists received a 20% salary increase after earning their certification.

Why do hiring managers value these certifications when considering candidates?

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What’s New in Cisco’s CCNA 2013 Certification Exam

Cisco has redesigned its CCNA certification to better align with next-gen IT job roles. This article looks at major updates to the new CCNA Routing & Switching credential, plus the key facts you should know to stay ahead of the curve.

Whats New CCNA Certification

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) is Cisco’s most popular certification, and one of the IT industry’s most marketable and prolific career credentials. CCNA certification demonstrates competence as a network professional, and proves that a certified pro can install, configure, operate and troubleshoot routed & switched networks.

As technology advances and networks become increasingly sophisticated, the job roles of network professionals evolve in turn. Cisco’s revamp of its flagship credential improves CCNA training and certification curricula by incorporating the skills IT professionals need to manage the networks of today -- and tomorrow.

Important changes re new CCNA Routing & Switching

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Certification Path for Cyber Security Professionals

Subject matter experts break down a best-in-class certification track for IT security professionals.

cyber security certification path

As cyber attacks continue to escalate in frequency and sophistication, businesses are making it a top priority to acquire talent who can help protect their digital data and infrastructure. In a high-stakes field where protocols change at the speed of attackers' imagination, only those with the latest and greatest skills will succeed. Certifications are the best way to prove the value and relevance of your cyber-security skill set to prospective employers.

With dozens of globally-recognized certifications to choose from, mapping out a cyber security learning plan can feel overwhelming. This post will break down an ideal vendor-neutral certification track for IT security professionals.

Why vendor-neutral? Vendor-neutral certifications demonstrate expertise that can be applied across multiple technologies, as opposed to vendor-specific certifications, which validate skills in a particular product line, such as Cisco network devices. Once you have the job (or have it in your sights) and you know which technologies the company uses, then it’s time to pursue vendor-specific certs.

Here is a rock-solid certification path for general cyber security professionals:

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