Main image of article Do Tech Professionals Need Certifications?

Here’s a pressing question for many tech professionals: do they need certifications to land a job or boost their salary?

According to the latest edition of Dice’s Tech Salary Report, some 51 percent of tech professionals said they had technical certifications, a very slight increase from 2022 (when 49 percent had certs) and level with 2021 (also 51 percent). While many tech jobs demand formal certifications, especially in realms such as cybersecurity and networking, the constant demand for tech talent means that many employers are willing to set aside their degree and certification requirements if the candidate can demonstrate they have the necessary skills mastery and experience to actually do the job.

To that point, 45 percent of tech professionals told us that certifications weren’t needed at this moment in their careers, and 10 percent didn’t think earning a certification would add value to their role. But let’s not ignore the 11 percent of tech professionals working on one, along with the 10 percent who’d earn one if they only had the time, or the 15 percent who’d want their company to pay for training. For the tech professionals in those latter categories, asking your employer for the time and money to complete certification could really pay off; after all, many managers can see the value in such training.

Which certifications potentially pay the most? Late last year, a report by Skillsoft attempted to break down the highest-paying certifications. “Certifications with a focus on cybersecurity or cloud computing tend to earn IT professionals higher salaries in part due to the sustained demand for these skills,” reads the report’s intro. “Cybersecurity, in particular, continues to grow in importance to individuals and organizations as threats become more prevalent and severe—which also helps to drive up salaries for those with skills to combat them.” Here’s Skillsoft’s breakdown:

(It’s important to add that you can’t attribute a tech pro’s entire salary to one particular certification, or even a collection of them; that being said, many analysts have found a correlation between higher earnings and key certifications.)

Even if you don’t need certifications for a particular tech job, keep in mind that they might give you an advantage when applying for competitive jobs. Some 80 percent of HR professionals at medium and large organizations said they relied on certifications during the hiring process, according to CompTIA’s Workforce and Learning Trends 2023 report.