10 Highest-Paying IT Certifications for Tech Pros

By Robert Half October 18, 2018 at 8:00am

Tech professionals today can earn hefty salaries — if you have the right background. One of the best ways to demonstrate your knowledge and skill set is with a relevant credential.

Here are 10 of the highest-paying IT certifications right now:

  • Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
  • Certified Data Management Professional (CDMP)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless (CCNP Wireless)
  • Oracle Certified Professional, Java
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional

These IT certifications can be a crucial steppingstone toward landing a great job in the tech sector, and help you increase your expected starting salary, as listed in the 2019 Robert Half Technology Salary Guide. Let's take an in-depth look at each of the highest-paying IT certifications:

1. Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr)
Job title: Network architect
Midpoint salary: $137,500
Costs of this IT certification: $3,750 application fee, $11,250 exam fee

Network architects are responsible for all aspects of creating data networks, from deciding where cables will be laid to aligning projects with high-level business objectives. The CCAr is one of the most valuable certifications to have in the field of network architecture, but is also difficult to attain. This architect-level accreditation sits at the pinnacle of Cisco’s certification pyramid, and being a Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) is a prerequisite. Even applying for the CCAr program can be a challenge. The fees are among the highest in the industry, and candidates must undergo a phone interview and be approved by a panel of Cisco-appointed judges before even taking the exam. The end result, however, can be worth every bit of cost and effort if it helps you land a high-paying network architect position.

2. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
Job title: Applications architect
Midpoint salary: $135,750
Costs of this IT certification: $20 practice exam fee, $150 exam fee

Application architects are responsible for all elements of the applications they work with, from design and testing to technical support. The qualifications for this role depend on the nature of the application itself, but there’s currently a strong demand for architects certified in Amazon’s cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Candidates for the associate level of this certification must have at least one year of hands-on AWS experience. The next and final step on the architect path is the professional-level certification.

3. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Job title: Information systems (IS) security manager
Midpoint salary: $139,000
Costs of this IT certification: $50 application fee, $575 (member) or $760 (nonmember) exam fee

In a world of fast-evolving security threats, there’s a great demand for security professionals, especially at the leadership level. IS security systems managers are responsible for guiding security activity and training their staff, as well as providing long-term strategic planning. The CISM from ISACA, a vendor-neutral nonprofit association, is a recognized standard for security management. Applicants must have at least five years of IS work experience, three of which must be as a manager.

4. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics 
Job title: Data architect
Midpoint salary: $133,500
Cost of this IT certification: $165 per exam

The importance of big data means that the role of data architect is now more challenging than ever. An MCSE in data management and analytics is a great place to start, giving you the solid technical foundation needed to oversee large-scale data resources. This certification is for tech professionals who have already attained their Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification. The next step is to pass one or more of the 13 exams in specialty areas ranging from cloud data platform solutions to data engineering using Azure HDInsights.
 
5. Certified Data Management Professional
Job title: Big data engineer
Midpoint salary: $155,500
Costs of this IT certification: $250–$1,497 exam fee, $35–$125 annual membership fee

Interested in the jobs with the highest-paying IT certifications? We can help.

The Big Data revolution has created a huge demand for data experts. Because the technologies involved are relatively new, there’s not a clear-cut qualification path to high-paying jobs like big data engineer. A certification like ICCP’s Certified Big Data Professional can help. For best results, combine the IT certification with practical experience in technologies like Hadoop, HDInsight and NoSQL. The three levels of this certification are associate, practitioner/mastery and principal.
 
6. Project Management Professional (PMP)
Job title: IT project manager/senior consultant
Midpoint salary: $115,500
Cost of this IT certification: $405 (member) or $555 (nonmember) exam fee

PMP is a general certification that, according to the Project Management Institute, can help you land a salary increase of up to 20 percent. PMP candidates must have at least 4,500 hours of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education before they can apply. While the certificate is not specific to technology, many employers seek candidates and consultants who demonstrate proficiency and leadership in both IT and project management.
 
7. Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless (CCNP Wireless)
Job title: Wireless network engineer
Midpoint salary: $122,000
Costs of this IT certification: $300 per exam, $1,200 total

Wireless network engineers are increasingly in demand as businesses switch to Wi-Fi and cloud services to improve collaboration, automation and remote work. As such, the demand is high for wireless-networking experts. Cisco’s CCNP Wireless is the gold standard certification for this kind of position. You can apply to take the four exams for the credential if you already hold a Cisco Certified Network Associate Wireless (CCNA Wireless) or any Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification. The tests cover design, deployment, troubleshooting and security.
 
8. Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer
Job title: Software engineer
Midpoint salary: $124,500
Cost of this IT certification: $245 exam fee

Java remains the most popular language for desktop and mobile development. SE 8 is the latest version, and it comes with significant updates. This certification can help you stand out when competing with other candidates for a high-paying job opportunity, and the most valuable Java certifications are the ones offered by the parent company. Oracle offers six certification levels, each with its own acronym.  
 
9. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Job title: Data security analyst
Midpoint salary: $125,250
Cost of this IT certification: $699 exam fee

IS is vital to a company’s reputation and bottom line. Employers want to hire security analysts and network architects with a security-related certification because that credential is shorthand for expertise in this field. Several organizations offer IS certifications, with the most popular being the CISSP issued by (ISC)2. This IT certification covers eight domains ranging from security and risk management to software development security.
 
10. AWS Certified DevOps Engineer – Professional
Job title: Site reliability engineer
Midpoint salary: $118,500
Cost of this IT certification: $300 exam fee

Working as a site reliability engineer, like in all DevOps roles, requires a well-rounded background in coding, analytics, testing, security and operational support. AWS offers one of the more established certifications in the DevOp field. To attain this certificate, candidates must already hold an AWS credential in development or SysOps, as well as having prior experience in an AWS environment.

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