Which certifications pay the most? That’s always a pressing question for technologists everywhere, given the time and resources necessary to earn certifications. You don’t want to spend all those hours studying (and sitting through exams) if you’re not going to receive much of a return.
Fortunately for those trying to figure out how certain certifications translate into a cash premium, Global Knowledge just released its updated list of the certifications associated with high salaries. While you can use this knowledge to tailor your learning journey, always keep in mind that salary is ultimately the result of multiple factors, including skills, experience, and your employer. Here’s the list:
If you click into Global Knowledge’s list, you’ll see that technologists tend to earn multiple certifications (for example, those with the Google Certified Professional Data Engineer certification tend to possess an average of four certs). Significant percentages also work in management, which can boost salaries considerably.
Depending on which sources you consult, not all certifications translate into a pay premium. Analyst firm Foote Partners’ regular evaluation of the market values of certs, for instance, usually reveals some of those certifications dropping in value. “For 540 tech certifications, average market values decreased for the eleventh consecutive quarter, down 0.4 percent overall, currently earning the equivalent of 6.7 percent of base salary on average for a single certification,” the firm stated in the most recent IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index. “That’s the lowest average pay premium for IT certifications in 7 years.”
Indeed, the popularity of certifications can drive down market value over the long term (due to increasing supply as more technologists earn those certs). Highly specialized certs, by virtue of scarcity, can translate into significantly more money (and/or a promotion) at the right company. All that being said, both Global Knowledge’s breakdown and Dice’s most recent Salary Report show some ultra-popular certs associated with high salaries; in the Salary Report, for instance, various AWS certifications, PMP, and CISM occupy some of the top slots.
Possessing one (or more) certs can help technologists stand out in a crowded job market, and provide a bit more leverage in negotiations for better roles, salaries, and benefits. This is especially true in highly competitive and ultra-specialized arenas such as cybersecurity and the cloud, where companies really need the assurance that you’ve mastered some very complex tools and platforms.