13 Best-Paying IT Certifications for 2018

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It’s no secret that the IT industry is booming. As organisations are becoming increasingly digitalised and their reach begins to extend far beyond traditional boundaries, the merging of business strategy and information technology is creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs every year. Yet, in many instances, this growth means that supply is not able to meet demand, which is good news for industry jobseekers – especially those who hold highly sought-after technical skills.

If you’re wondering just where that demand is, look no further; we’ve compiled a handy list of the top qualifications and the kind of salaries they can command. So, whether you’re just starting out and considering your options or you’re an experienced professional looking for the next big opportunity, read on – these are the best-paying IT certifications for 2018…



1. VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Centre Virtualisation (VCP6.5-DCV)

Area: Cloud management
Course Costs: $4,200–$7,000 (£3,100–£5,185), depending on training session choice
Average Salary: $96,300 (£71,340)

Used to troubleshoot the latest version of the vSphere virtualisation platform, the VCP6.5-DCV certificate is an increasingly popular accreditation among cloud management professionals.

vSphere 6.5 is a recent upgrade, so manufacturers VMware advise for exam candidates to become proficient with the new system first. You should then attend one of the mandatory training sessions, followed by a foundation exam costing an extra $125 (£92). The final VCP6.5-DCV exam includes 70 questions over 105 minutes and costs an additional $250 (£185) to sit.


2. Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

Area: Project management
Course Costs: $1,000 (£740)
Average Salary: $106,940 (£79,210)

For those who are unfamiliar, Scrum is an Agile project management concept that was originally used by software developers and is based on the idea of having daily huddles (like a rugby scrum – get it?) to monitor and fine-tune development and progress. There are no pre-existing requirements for the CSM qualification, although some prior experience of Scrum is recommended.

If you want to advance your career, this is a highly useful qualification to possess – regardless of your industry or specialism. It can be attained by completing a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) class, followed by a two-day, in-person course. The final exam is then sat online and consists of 35 questions, of which you need to correctly answer 24 to pass. The exam costs are covered in the course fee.


3. Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N)

Area: Networking
Course Costs: $5,000 (£3,700)
Average Salary: $99,220 (£73,500)

Aimed at architects, administrators and engineers that work with the highly popular NetScaler Gateway, the CCA-N certificate is designed to consolidate and validate the knowledge required to implement and maintain secure remote access for businesses.

Regardless of your choice of specialism (Traffic Management or Unified Gateway are the two currently available options), you will need to complete a 5-day online course to get your hands on the certificate, before sitting the 90-minute confirmation exam at a cost of $200 (£150). Once completed, though, your accreditation is valid for three years.


4. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching

Area: Networking
Course Costs: $2,200 (£1,630) – varies depending on training provider
Average Salary: $99,400 (£73,640)

Regardless of how businesses store their data, routing and switching is still an essential part of network management; therefore, this intermediate step on the Cisco seniority roadmap continues to be a highly sought-after qualification.

It’s highly recommended that as an engineer or an administrator, you are au fait with tackling complex network issues independently; you should also already possess the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certificate. You will then need to pass three separate exams (routing, switching and troubleshooting) at a combined cost of $900 (£670), with the potential to graduate to CCIE (expert) level further down the line.


5. Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualisation (CCP-V)

Area: Cloud management
Course Costs: Unavailable
Average Salary: $103,420 (£76,610)

Generally speaking, the demand for Citrix-certified professionals is higher than the supply, which means that if you pursue this qualification you’ll be in a prime position when it comes to negotiating your salary.

The CCP-V is a step up from the Citrix Certified Associate (CCA-V) grade, so you’ll need to hold that certificate as well as have some independent experience. You’ll then need to study two XenApp and XenDesktop support modules over eight days. Finally, you’ll need to sit the 90-minute Advanced Administration exam at a cost of $300 (£220).


6. Project Management Professional (PMP)

Area: Project management
Course Costs: $1,500 (£1,100) classroom-based; private online provider fees vary
Average Salary: $114,470 (£84,800)

Similar to ScrumMaster, the PMP certification is a highly valuable qualification to possess, regardless of your industry. Administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), there are currently an estimated 770,000 active PMP holders across the globe.

To join this exclusive group, it is necessary to undertake the PMI’s Exam Prep Boot Camp, as well as hold at least 4,500 hours of quantifiable project management experience (7,500 if you don’t hold a relevant bachelor’s degree). You will then need to pass the 4-hour, 200-question accreditation exam, which can be sat for $405 (£300) if you’re a PMI member or $555 (£410) if you’re not.


7. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Area: Audit / Governance
Course Costs: $270 (£200) administration fees, plus $450 (£330) for study materials (non-compulsory)
Average Salary: $99,684 (£73,860)

Designed for those who are heavily involved in the auditing of business IT systems, the CISA qualification is administered by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), an independent non-profit that acts as a global governance advisory board.

Before you take this course, you should have extensive experience (5+ years) in the IT audit field. It is then necessary to take one of two yearly exams at a designated location. Although there are no compulsory attendance courses that you should attend prior to the exam, many candidates prefer to enrol in revision programmes or purchase the official study materials provided by ISACA. The exam fee is an additional $575 (£425) for ISACA members or $760 (£560) for non-members.



8. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

Area: Cyber security
Course Costs: $3,895 (£2,900) – varies depending on training provider
Average Salary: $106,370 (£78,800)

Cybersecurity is an ongoing concern for organisations of all shapes and sizes, with the likes of HBO, Equifax and the NHS all being successfully penetrated in recent months. Therefore, there is a big market for so-called ‘ethical’ hackers who adopt the same techniques and methods as malicious black hat hackers in order to identify – and then fix – weaknesses.

In order to sit the official 4-hour, 125-question CEH exam, you must demonstrate at least 2 years of IT security experience and a good knowledge of TCP/IP, as well as obtain authorisation from the administering body, the EC Council. Try to pass first time, too, as the test fee is a hefty $950 (£700).


9. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Area: Cyber security
Course Costs: $270 (£200) administration fees plus $450 (£330) for study materials (non-compulsory)
Average Salary: $108,380 (£80,300)

The CISM certificate is aimed at those who work within IT security management, with a particular focus on the assessment of existing security systems and the creation of ongoing security strategies. Available since 2002, it is also a field where demand is outweighing supply.

Similar to the CISA qualification, exam registration is higher for non-ISACA members and sittings are only available twice per year. You will also need to demonstrate 5 years of prior IT security experience (3 in a managerial role) before you can attempt the 4-hour, 150-question test.


10. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

Area: Risk management
Course Costs: $270 (£200) administration fees plus $450 (£330) for study materials (non-compulsory)
Average Salary: $111,050 (£82,280)

The CRISC certificate is designed specifically to evaluate how proficient your risk management skills are, with candidates subject to a robust and rigorous assessment. Unsurprisingly, many business analysts and other financial professionals such as accountants and bankers pursue CRISC and are able to command excellent salaries as a result.

Like other ISACA-accredited qualifications, there is no set course (although it is advisable that you purchase the official study materials as directed on the ISACA website). Exam fees are again lower for ISACA members than non-members. As mentioned, professionals from any background (that have some knowledge of CRISC) are encouraged to sit the test.


11. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Area: Cyber security
Course Costs: There is no compulsory study scheme, although (ISC)2 offers a revision course for $2,750 (£2,000)
Average Salary: $111,480 (£82,600)

Designed specifically to prove security expertise, this broad vendor-neutral certificate – administered by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium or (ISC)2 – covers a wide range of security topics, referred to as Common Body of Knowledge (CBK) domains.

Applicants to this course must demonstrate at least five years of paid experience in at least two of these CBK domains. They are then required to sit the mammoth 6-hour long, 1,000-question exam. A score of at least 70% is required to pass, whilst the fee is currently set at $699 (£520). You must also submit a written reference to the (ISC)2 and subscribe to their code of ethics before you can become accredited.


12. Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

Area: Governance
Course Costs: $2,660 (£1,970) – varies depending on training provider
Average Salary: $121,360 (£89,900)

The fourth ISACA qualification on this list, the CGEIT is aimed at professionals who bridge the gap between business strategy and IT capability within their organisation. Holders of this certificate are highly sought after, as their expertise means that businesses can truly get the most out of their people, applications and infrastructure.

As with all ISACA certificates, you must register for the exam – $465 (£345) for ISACA members and $595 (£440) for non-members – as well as be able to prove at least five years of prior experience in a supervisory IT governance role. The test itself consists of 150 questions and takes 4 hours to complete.


13. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Area: Architecture / Cloud management
Course Costs: $2,000 (£1,480) – varies depending on training provider
Average Salary: $121,290 (£89,850)

As cloud technology continues to grow, so too does the need for skilled architects to design and deploy scalable systems, especially in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment. This Associate certificate is a stepping stone to the Professional qualification, and it can set you on the way to success in a high-demand, well-paid sector.

In order to sit the computer-based exam, Amazon recommends that you have at least six months of direct familiarity with AWS. The test itself contains 60 questions set over 80 minutes and must be taken at a designated exam centre at a cost of $150 (£110).


As you can see, there is a diverse range of sought-after qualifications within the IT industry, particularly within cybersecurity and cloud management where existing skill shortages are being compounded by predictions of massive job growth. This means that there is no better time to pursue one of these qualifications than now, with the added incentive of job security and strong salary performance also a welcome bonus.

Are there any other handy qualifications we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below…


Salary information was based on data compiled and published by Global Knowledge and CIO. Course and exam fees were obtained through individual qualification websites. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 8 May 2018.