Which certifications provide the biggest bang for your buck? While some key IT certifications can boost your career
, you shouldn’t ignore the ROI that comes with certification programs that focus on non-technical standards and skills. With these non-technical certs, you often don’t need to attain the highest level of accreditation to increase your market value. Here are five that can add weight to your résumé and wallet:
Project Management Professional Certification
Thanks to an average salary of $109,405, the PMP is the fourth-highest-paying certification and the highest paying non-security related certification, according to training firm Global Knowledge
. You don’t even need to be a project manager
to reap the benefits of certification, according to Ed Tittel, a certification expert and blogger: “Stepping-stone certs such as the CAPM or the PMI-ACP validate fundamental principles, terminology and processes that apply to any number of IT roles.” For instance, the CAPM covers project communications, stakeholder management and time management—and you don’t need hands-on experience to qualify. The PMI-ACP will increase your familiarity with various approaches to Agile
, such as Scrum
and Lean. For $300 to $500, tech pros can get study materials and practice exams, and take the CAPM test. The exam cost for the PMI-ACP ranges between $435 and $495; the salary for certified professionals is about 28 percent higher than for non-certified professionals.
Although you’ll need to pass five “books” and amass five years of management experience to score a master ITIL certification, someone involved in management or development can still increase his or her worth by obtaining a more entry-level ITIL v3 Foundation level certificate, according to Kirsten Lora, senior product director for Business Skills and Training at Global Knowledge. The cost of self-study training materials, practice exams and the certification test for the Foundation level is less than $500. The exam takes about an hour, and in return, you can expect a salary increase of $3,000 to $5,000, Tittel said. CRISC
Although the CRISC program is geared toward employees who spend their days managing risk, its fundamentals can help you ascend into a management, consulting, or business-analyst role. (Plus you’ll have five years to meet the experience requirements once you pass the examination.) Boot camps can be pricey, so if your employer won’t pick up the tab, consider self-study and paying $300 to $500 for an instructor-led review course. The exam costs range from $440 to $750. By the way, the CRISC was the top-paying cert in Global Knowledge’s survey with an average salary of $119,227.
CISSP (And Others)
Knowledge of security essentials can bolster your personal job safety, as more organizations than ever are focused on weaving additional protections into their respective technology stacks. With an average salary of $110,603, a CISSP certification can increase your paycheck, but it requires several years of relevant work experience. Entry-level, vendor-neutral credentials such as the CompTIA Security+ and GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC) don’t require previous experience, although the GSEC exam is quite a bit more expensive than the Security+ exam. Pay value for the CompTIA Security+ certification has grown 40 percent over the last 12 months, according to Foote Partners
; a self-study package and exam will set you back about $500.
With some 93 percent of companies utilizing the cloud, both experienced and aspiring network
or data center administrators
can enhance their resumes by completing a vendor-neutral program such as CompTIA's Cloud+ or Cloud School’s Cloud Certified Professional.
Most cloud certifications are relatively new, so the specific salary impact and ROI are difficult to measure. Even so, you can buy a study guide for Cloud+ on Amazon and take the exam for around $400. The cloud was one of the highest paying skills in the Dice Salary Survey (PDF)