Certifications can validate your IT skills and experience to show employers you have the expertise to get the job done. You can get certified in skills you already have or skills you’d like to put to use in your career — whatever your reason, certifications are a great way to strengthen your resume and set yourself apart from other candidates in a job search.
According to the 2020 IT Salary report from Robert Half, IT professionals holding the following popular certifications can earn 5 to 10 percent more than their peers. Whether you’re just starting out and building your resume or you’ve been in the industry for 20 years, there’s a certification that can help boost your salary and your career.
15 most in demand certifications for 2020
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect
- Certified Data Professional (CDP)
- Certified Ethical Hacker
- Certified ScrumMaster
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- CompTIA A+
- Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)
- Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
- Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
- Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer
AWS Certified Solutions Architect
Amazon offers a long list of AWS certifications, but the AWS Certified Solutions Architect is one of the most popular cloud computing certifications you can earn. AWS is widely used at companies large and small, so whether you already work for a company using AWS or plan to in the future, it’s a good choice for your resume. The certification focuses on your ability to design and deploy scalable systems on AWS with a focus on keeping it cost effective without sacrificing on security, reliability and quality.
Average annual salary (according to PayScale): US$113,000
Certified Data Professional (CDP)
Available from the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP), the Certified Data Professional (CDP) certification offers several learning paths. CDP candidates can choose from a range of domains, including business analytics, data analytics and design, data governance, data integration and interoperability, data management, data warehousing, enterprise data architecture, information systems or IT management and more. The CDP is offered at various levels starting with foundation and moving on to associate, mastery, principal and ending at the final level of executive management.
Average annual salary: US$45,000
Certified Ethical Hacker
Offered through the EC-Council, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification demonstrates your ability to find vulnerabilities in computer systems and to prevent hacking. As an ethical hacker, you’re someone who uses the same skills, techniques and knowledge as a malicious hacker to help establish better security measures to prevent future attacks. Ethical hackers are responsible for finding weaknesses in the organization’s networks and systems, and then use that knowledge to protect the company against potential threats.
Average annual salary: US$81,000
The Scrum Alliance offers a ScrumMaster certification that will certify your knowledge of the Scrum Framework and your ability to apply it in the workplace. It’s a certification best suited for project managers, technical project managers, Scrum masters, program managers, project leads and product developers. Once you pass your certification, you’ll also receive a two-year membership with the Scrum Alliance, which will give you access to local and online networking events.
Average annual salary: US$105,000
Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is the highest level of certification you can reach in Cisco’s program. The expert-level certifications are offered in specialty areas including enterprise infrastructure, enterprise wireless, data center, security, service provider and collaboration. Once you have passed your CCIE exam in your topic of choice, you will have reached the highest level of Cisco certification currently available. Before you can earn your expert-level certification, it’s recommended to have at least five to seven years of experience in the certification subject.
Average annual salary: US$126,000
Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is offered in several specializations, including security, wireless, routing and switching, industrial, IoT, data center, cyber operations, collaboration and cloud. The exam covers network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals and automation and programmability. You’ll need at least one year of experience working with Cisco products and services, basic knowledge of IP addressing and a strong understanding of network fundamentals to pass the exam.
Average annual salary: US$78,000
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certifications will be the next step on your Cisco certification journey after you earn your CCNA. With CCNP, you can choose to be certified in enterprise, data center, security, service provider, collaboration, CyberOps or DevNet. You’ll need to pass an exam at the CCNP level to move on to the final expert level of certifications. It’s recommended to have at least three to five years of experience in any certification path you choose.
Average annual salary: US$95,000
Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Offered through the ISACA, the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification is a globally recognized certification for IS audit control. It was established in 1978 and certifies your ability to report on compliance procedures, how well you can assess vulnerabilities and your knowledge of every stage in the auditing process. To qualify, you need at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control or security and must complete another entry-level exam through the ISACA certification scheme.
Average annual salary: US$102,000
The CompTIA A+ certification is designed for support specialists, field service technicians, desktop support analysts and help desk support. It’s an entry-level certification that certifies your ability to troubleshoot and solve problems with networking, mobile devices, operating systems and security. The certification covers nine important IT skills such as hardware, networking, mobile devices, Windows operating system, hardware and network troubleshooting, operating system technologies, software troubleshooting, security and operation procedures.
Average annual salary: US$61,000
Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC)
The Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) is offered in 30 specializations for IT cybersecurity professionals. The certifications “target job-based skill sets rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach,” and each certification is associated with a specific security job duty or skill. The exam is designed to test your real-world skills and to validate your hands-on experience working in security.
Average annual salary: US$91,000
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
Microsoft offers several Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certifications in topics like BI reporting, Office 365, database development, web applications, Windows Server, Windows 10 and several other Microsoft products and services. The MCSA certification is designed for entry-level tech workers, so if you’re just starting out in your IT career, you’ll find these certifications helpful for strengthening your resume. Please note, however, that Microsoft will soon be revamping its certification program, and the MCSA will give way to role-based certifications.
Average annual salary: US$75,000
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
The Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) certification is an entry-level certification that covers the foundations of technology. You’ll need to know the basics of IT infrastructure, databases and development. Microsoft designed the certification for people new to the IT industry or for those looking to make a career change into the tech industry. It’s especially useful for Junior IT Auditors and systems, network or security administrators.
Average annual salary: US$55,000
Oracle Certified Professional (OCP)
Oracle offers several Oracle Certified Professional (OCP) certifications in database administration, big data, application development, analytics, data warehousing and more. You’ll need to earn your Oracle Certified Associate (OCA) certification in your chosen path or subject before you can move onto earning your professional-level OCP certification. Oracle offers a large selection of IT certifications so if you already use Oracle products or want to work for a company that does, you will most likely find a certification that fits your needs.
Average annual salary: US$107,000
Project Management Professional (PMP)
The PMP certification is offered through Project Management Institute and is targeted at advanced project management professionals. The certification covers the fundamentals of project management, including the five main stages of a project’s life cycle: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling and closing. To take the exam, you’ll need at least a four-year degree and three years of experience in project management, 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. If you have a secondary degree, you’ll need five years of experience, 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.
Average annual salary: US$106,000
Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer
The Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer certification falls under Salesforce’s architect certifications track. This certification exam is offered as a specialization you can take under the Certified Systems Architect certification path. It’s designed for IT pros responsible for assessing the company’s architecture environment and requirements and certifies your ability to implement management solutions on the Salesforce platform.
Average annual salary: US$91,000