Main image of article 32 Tech Certification Categories: Which Pay the Most?

Certifications take a lot of time and money to earn, and you hope the payoff is worth it. Oftentimes, it is; numerous studies show that earning one or more certifications translates into a significant pay bump. In addition, many businesses simply won’t hire technology professionals who don’t have particular certs. 

But not all certifications are created equal. The annual IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index from Foote Partners LLC showed that ones such as EMC Information Storage Associate and CSX Cybersecurity Practitioner have lost value over the past year or so. For tech professionals, there’s always the fear that something you’ve earned this year might not convince an employer to hire you (or give you a raise) the next.

On top of that, certifications have become intensely granular, with multiple tracks. For example, AWS certification features four learning paths and 11 exams. This ultra-granular focus is understandable, especially as highly specialized technology jobs also become more complex, but it adds another potential layer of confusion to tech professionals about which certs to pursue.

With all that in mind, it’s worth looking at which categories of certs are the most lucrative. Fortunately, Global Knowledge crunched that data as part of its recent global survey of 12,271 tech professionals. “The big money is in cloud computing certifications, with AWS and Google Cloud delivering high salaries across all regions.” Check out the full list:

What’s the takeaway here? Earning multiple cloud or cybersecurity certs (just for example) can cumulatively translate into a significant pay bump; meanwhile, pursuing other certification categories might not prove nearly as lucrative.

According to the Dice Salary Survey, some 47 percent of tech pros have a certification; another 24 percent said that a certification wasn’t needed for their role, and 29 percent said they didn’t have one for other reasons (for example, a portion said their company refused to pay for one). But the more specialized the role, the more a certification is likely to help you land—and keep—a job. Recruiters, for instance, might not have the technical know-how to evaluate your skills on your CV—but they’ll likely know enough to recognize that you have the right certs.

As the market for tech professionals continues to tighten, employers struggling with limited budgets for talent might also prove more amenable to paying for certs as a way to hire and retain employees. If you want to expand your certifications in a particular category, ask your boss if they’d be willing to foot the bill for classes and exams; you might be pleasantly surprised when they say “yes."