Main image of article 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.