IT certifications can boost your career, but it’s not always easy to tell which certifications hold the most value for your resume. Moreover, pay associated with any given cert fluctuates based on business interest and the supply of IT pros who hold it. To help gauge certification values, Foote Partners tracks premiums paid for popular IT certifications in its 2021 IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index report.
The cash value of IT certifications is less volatile than that of non-certified IT skills, according to David Foote, co-founder, chief analyst, and chief research officer at Foote Partners. But certifications tend to spike in value after they’re launched and level out as more people get certified.
Foote Partners has identified the following 20 certifications as gaining the most in market value, based on compensation data provided by more than 3,800 private- and public-sector employers in the US and Canada. Certification value is based on the percentage of base salary accounted for by a single certification, on average. Whether you already have one of these certifications or are planning to earn one, there’s no better time to have one of these 20 IT certifications on your resume.
SAS Certified Data Scientist
The SAS Certified Data Scientist certification validates your ability to gain insights from big data with SAS and other open-source tools, make business recommendations with complex machine learning models, and deploy models at scale in an SAS environment. The exam covers topics such as programming skills, managing and improving data, accessing and manipulating data, and working with visualization tools. To earn the SAS Certified Data Scientist certification, you’ll first need to earn your SAS Certified Big Data Professional and SAS Certified Advanced Analytics Professional certifications.
Exam fee: $180
Information System Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP/CISSP)
The Information System Security Engineering Professional certification is offered by the International Information Security Certification Consortium (ISC) as a concentration certification under the CISSP certification scheme. It was developed by the ISC alongside the US National Security Agency to acknowledge “those who specialize in the practical application of systems engineering principles and processes to build secure systems.” It’s designed as a companion certification for CISSP holders to validate their knowledge as it applies to engineering. The certification is designed for senior systems engineers, information assurance systems engineers, information assurance offices, information assurance analysts, and senior security analysts.
Exam fee: $599
GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester (GWAPT)
The GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester (GWAPT) certification is designed to validate your ability to ensure organizations are secure through the use of penetration testing, as well as your understanding of web application security issues. The exam covers topics such as web application overview, authentication attacks, configuration testing, session management, SQL injection attacks, testing tools, cross-site request forgery and scripting, client injection attack, and reconnaissance and mapping. It’s a certification best suited for security practitioners, penetration testers, ethical hackers, web application developers, and website designers and architects.
Exam fee: $2,499
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
The Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect certification demonstrates your ability to leverage Google Cloud in the enterprise. Designed for cloud architects, the credential vets candidates on designing, developing, and managing “robust, secure, scalable, highly available and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.” The exam covers topics such as designing and planning a cloud solution architecture, managing and provisioning a solution infrastructure, designing for security and compliance, analyzing and optimizing technical business processes, managing implementation, and ensuring solution and operations reliability.
Exam fee: $200
Okta Certified Professional
The Okta Certified Professional certification is the first level of a three-part certification scheme offered by Okta. The certification validates your skills and knowledge with identity and access management using Okta services. The level-one professional exam tests general familiarity with Okta technology and processes, covering topics such as simple directory integration, single-sign-on federation, and application provisioning. There are no prerequisites, but it’s recommended that you have hands-on experience “completing the day-to-day operational tasks to support users of the Okta service.”
Exam fee: $150
Oracle Database Administration Certified Professional (DBA-OCP)
The Oracle Database Administration Certified Professional (DBA-OCP) certification is offered by Oracle to validate your skills and expertise using Oracle database technology. It’s the second certification in a three-level scheme, so you’ll need to earn the associate-level certification before you can earn your professional credentials — after passing the professional-level exam, you’ll qualify to take the master-level exam. You’ll need to pass training courses that cover topics such as backup and recovery, deploying patching and upgrading, multitenant architecture, and administrator features.
Exam fee: $245
Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert
The Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification validates your ability to design and implement computing, network, storage, and security solutions using Microsoft Azure. The exam covers topics such as implementing and monitoring Azure infrastructure and security solutions, implementing solutions for apps and data platforms, design monitoring, identity and security, data storage, business continuity, and infrastructure. There are no prerequisites, but it’s recommended to have “advanced experience and knowledge of IT operations, including networking, visualization, identity, security, business continuity, disaster recovery, data platform, budgeting, and governance,” as well as experience with Azure development and DevOps processes.
Exam fee: $165
Oracle Certified Master – DBA (OCM)
The Oracle Database Administrator Certified Master (DBA-OCM) is the third and final level of certification offered by Oracle in its database admin certification scheme. After passing the associate- and professional-level exams, you can earn your master-level certification, which also requires passing two advanced training courses that cover more complex aspects of Oracle’s database technologies. The courses cover topics such as new features for administrators, data guard administration, high availability and ASM, Clusterware, and RAC administration.
Exam fee: $245
Pega Certified Robotics System Architect
The Pega Certified Robotics System Architect certification offered by Pegasystems validates your skills and knowledge in automating robotic solutions. You’ll need to take a Robotic Systems Architect course to pass the certification exam, which is offered through Pega Academy and includes 15 modules and 10 challenges, taking an average of 17 hours to complete. The exam covers topics such as project management, system integration, interrogation, debugging and diagnostics, automation, interaction framework, and deployment.
Exam fee: $175
Pega Certified Senior Systems Architect (PCSSA)
The Pega Certified Senior Systems Architect (PCSSA) certification is designed to certify your ability to use Pega to “design and build for reusability across multiple lines of business.” The certification focuses on validating your knowledge of best practices, application debugging and performance tuning, and security and access requirements. Before taking the exam, you’ll need to complete the Senior Systems Architect training course, which has 20 modules and 19 challenges and takes an average of 36 hours to complete. The exam covers topics such as application development, case management, data and integration, user interface, reporting, performance, security, deployments, and mobility.
Exam fee: $175
Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
The Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification offered by the Project Management Institute is an entry-level certification for project managers to demonstrate their understanding of project management. The exam covers the best practices of project management as outlined in the PMBOK Guide Sixth Edition. You’ll be tested on the role of a project management, as well as project integration, scope, schedule, cost, quality, resource, communication, risk procurement, and stakeholder management. To qualify for the exam, you’ll need a minimum of 1,500 hours of project management experience or 25 hours of project management education.
Exam fee: $225 members $300 non-members
Teradata Certified Database Administrator
The Teradata Certified Database Administrator certification is the second level of certification on the administrator track through Teradata. The Database Administrator certification validates your knowledge of the features and functionality of the Advanced SQL Engine up through the release of Teradata 16.10. On the exam you’ll be tested on topics such as archive management, capacity planning, database design and indexing, database tools and utilities, performance management, security management and auditing, space management, user administration, and database and workload management. The database administrator track is now an outdated certification but if you already hold the Teradata 14 Certified Database Administrator certification, you can bypass the associate, administrator, and developer exams in the updated Teradata Vantage certification scheme.
Exam fee: $249
Teradata Certified Enterprise Architect
The Teradata Certified Enterprise Architect certification is a for senior-level professionals to validate their ability to design and implement enterprise architecture using the Teradata ecosystem. The exam covers topics such as space management, system planning, optimization, data integration, protection and governance, and information delivery. The enterprise architect track is now an outdated certification, but if you already hold the Teradata 14 Certified Enterprise Architect certification, you can bypass the associate and developer exams in the updated Teradata Vantage certification scheme.
Exam fee: $249
Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE)
Earning the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) certification demonstrates your ability to design and architect complex enterprise network solutions. You’ll need to pass two exams to earn your CCDE — the first is a qualifying exam that tests your knowledge of the basic duties of a network designer. After passing the qualifying exam, you’ll take an eight-hour practical exam that focuses on designing and architecting enterprise networking solutions, and on making design decisions based resiliency, cost, and business and technical requirements.
Cisco is releasing v3.0 of the CCDE certification on Nov. 2, 2021. For those who already earned the CCDE prior to this date or who are currently working on the certification, there is a migration plan in place that will transition all certification holders to the new version along with an additional Cisco Specialist certification.
Exam fee: $450
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
The Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification offered by the EC-Council was designed to certify professionals with specialized information security knowledge who can use that knowledge to help avoid cybersecurity threats and risks in the enterprise. The exam covers the latest malware attacks, hacking tools, and emerging attack vectors. Each module includes specific hacking challenges, and it was created in compliance with the NICE 2.0 framework to maintain systematic job role mapping. Training at an accredited training center or through the online learning portal is required. If you opt to self-study, you will have to fill out an application with proof that you have at least two years of relevant information security work experience.
Exam fee: $1,199
Teradata Vantage Certified Master
The Teradata Vantage Certified Master certification is the final step in Teradata’s certification scheme and it was designed to demonstrate that you have the “technical authority for designing, implementing, performing analytics on, and managing a Teradata enterprise-wide data warehouse.” You’ll be required to pass the advanced administrator, advanced developer, and systems architect exams first. It’s also recommended to have at least five years of experience working with the Teradata ecosystem and advanced SQL engine along with three or more years of general industry experience as an architect.
Exam fee: $249
The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF) certification
The TOGAF 9 certification offered by The Open Group validates your skills and knowledge with The Open Group Architecture Framework, a popular enterprise architecture framework that offers businesses a clear path to design, plan, implement, and govern enterprise information technology architecture. Earning your TOGAF 9 certification will demonstrate that you understand TOGAF and can apply that knowledge within the organization. The exam covers topics such as applying ADM phases in development of an enterprise architecture, governance, building blocks, stakeholder management technique, TOGAF content metamodel, deliverables of the ADM cycle, architecture repository, and adapting ADM for security.
Exam fee: $550
Six Sigma Master Black Belt
The Six Sigma Master Black Belt certification is the highest level of certification in the Six Sigma scheme. Six Sigma is a management technique originally invented to improve manufacturing quality but has been adapted in the business world to help reduce costs, improve quality, and deliver better customer service. The Master Black Belt certification requires climbing the ranks starting with the entry-level Green Belt certification. Six Sigma mentors and coaches will help guide you through each level of certification. Master Black Belts are picked out by Champions, who work closely under executive leadership to oversee Six Sigma implementation in the organization. Six Sigma certification is typically an in-house initiative, and some companies have their own spin on the certification scheme, with additional levels of belts.
Exam fee: $665
Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)
The Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) certification is offered by the ISACA to validate your ability to handle “the governance of an entire organization” and can also help prepare you for moving to a C-Suite role if you aren’t already in an executive leadership position. The exam covers general knowledge of governance of enterprise IT, IT resources, benefits realization, and risk optimization. To qualify for the exam, you’ll need at least five years of experience in an advisory or oversight role supporting the governance of IT in the enterprise.
Exam fee: $575 for members; $760 for non-members
GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN)
The Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN) certification is offered by the GIAC to validate your ability to find and prevent security flaws and risks in systems and networks. The exam covers topics such as network attacks, crypto, network booting, restricted environments, Python, Scapy, Fuzzing, and exploiting Windows and Linux for penetration testers. The certification is best suited for network and systems penetration testers, incident handlers, application developers, IDS engineers, and security personnel responsible for assessing target networks, systems, and applications to find vulnerabilities.
Exam fee: $2,499
Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSP-ISSAP)
The Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP/CISSP) certification offered by the ISC is an additional certification for those who already hold a CISSP certification. It validates your expertise with developing, designing, and analyzing security solutions. To qualify, you’ll need a CISSP certification and two years paid work experience in one of the six domains in the CISSP-ISSAP common body of knowledge. The exam is best for those in roles such as system architect, chief technology officer, system and network designer, business analyst, or chief security officer. The exam covers topics such as architect for governance, compliance and risk management, security architecture modeling, infrastructure security architecture, identity and access management (IAM) architecture, architect for application security, and security operations architecture.
Exam fee: $599
Sarah K. White