The 17 major IT certifications that you can take to help you land a gig that pays over $100,000

  • The job market was changing even before COVID-19 pushed the global economy into the abyss.
  • If you find yourself out of work, underemployed, or simply ready for a new direction, now may be the perfect time to learn skills to help you enter the tech industry.
  • A tech certification can be a faster, more affordable way to open the door to a new career, compared to say, a college degree.
  • Below, we've got a running list of all the most valuable tech certifications and the typical salaries of those who hold them, according to various sites that track salary data.

With the economy in tatters, many people are looking around for a new career in the high-paying tech industry. And a certification is a very good way to get there, as many of them are associated with jobs that pay over $100,000.

Please note that a single certification itself won't instantly lead to a job with a six-digit salary. Salary depends on experience, job responsibilities, other education and certifications, location, and job title. And, obviously, the certifications associated with the highest-paying jobs tend to be held by people who have more years of experience and multiple certifications. In addition, certifications will expire — and need to be renewed — after one to three years. 

Also, a potential salary alone can't predict the right career path for anyone. People should start with the kind of tech that most interests them. Is it the cloud, marketing software, networking, programming, or app development? 

View this list more like a compass than a starting point. It can help you get an understand of how much you can make and what types of jobs and certifications you would need to get there.

Annual salary estimates are calculated based on proprietary databases or surveys from ZipRecruiter and Global Knowledge Training.

CCNP: $107,293

Name of certification: Cisco Certified Network Professional Enterprise (CCNP)

Description: The CCNP certification is the perquisite prior to the expert level. This credential certifies proficiency with computer networking on Cisco's products and is the new replacement, as of February 2020, to the popular CCNP Routing and Switching cert.

How much it may cost to get it: $600 for two exams; prep courses can run between $2,000 and $4,295. 

Potential salary: $107,293

Difficulty level in obtaining: This is a mid-level certification that requires several perquisites.

Source: ZipRecruiter

CCA-N: $109,430

Name of certification: Oracle Database PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional

Description: This credential shows that the IT pro is proficient with Oracle's database.

How much it may cost to get it: $490 for the two exams required. Prep courses can run over $7,700.

Potential salary: $109,430

Difficulty level in obtaining: This is a more advanced certification that requires first passing a pre-requisite cert.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Consultant: $111,590

Name of certification: Salesforce Marketing Cloud Consultant

Description: A middle-tier certification that demonstrates proficiency using Salesforce's Marketing Cloud.

How much it may cost to get it: $200. Salesforce offers free online prep courses through its Trailhead education site. 

Potential salary: $111,590

Difficulty level in obtaining: This is not a terribly hard certification to obtain, but it does require a pre-requisite.  

Source: ZipRecruiter

CCP-V: $112,973

Name of certification: Citrix Certified Professional Virtualization (CCP-V)

Description: This is an advanced certification on networking tech from Citrix, maker of tech that allows any enterprise to deliver applications over a network (rather than install apps on devices).

How much it may cost to get it: The exam costs $300. Prep courses can run between $3,000 and $6,000. 

Potential salary: $112,973

Difficulty level in obtaining: This certification requires completing the associate level cert  as a prerequisite and passing two exams.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

Oracle Database Developer: $120,927

Name of certification: Oracle Database PL/SQL Developer Certified Professional

Description: This credential shows that the IT pro is proficient with Oracle's database.

How much it may cost to get it: $490 for the two required exams. Prep courses can run over $7,700.

Potential salary: $120,927

Difficulty level in obtaining: This is a more advanced certification that requires first passing a pre-requisite cert.

Source: Salary.com

Azure Administrator Associate: $125,993

Name of certification: Microsoft Certified Azure Administrator Associate

Description: This credential validates that an IT pro has the skills to be an administrator of apps and services running on Microsoft's cloud Azure.

How much it may cost to get it: $165 for the exam. There are free self-study resources available. Third-party prep courses can run between $2,595 and $3,000.

Potential salary: $125,993

Difficulty level in obtaining: Although this is a fairly entry-level certification, most trainers recommend that the IT pro have completed the first level cert, Azure Fundamentals.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

ITIL Foundation: $129,402

Name of certification: ITIL Foundation

Description: This credential from the Information Technology Infrastructure Library is one of the world's most common systems for IT infrastructure management.

How much it may cost to get it:  The exam fee varies by location from $150 to $500. Third-party prep courses for the exam range from $750 to $2,495.

Potential salary: $129,402

Difficulty level in obtaining: This is an entry-level certification and a pre-requisite for other ITIL certifications.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

VMware Certified Professional: $130,226

Name of certification: VMware Certified Professional 6 Data Center Virtualization

Description: The credential validates that an IT pro can build and run infrastructure using VMware's popular vSphere 6 product.

How much it may cost to get it: $250 to VMware for the exam. Third-party prep courses can run $4,300.

Potential salary: $130,226

Difficulty level in obtaining:  This a mid-level VMware certification and requires several other certifications en route, that could take up to a year to complete.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

CISA: $132,278

Name of certification: ISACA's Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

Description: As one of the oldest certifications around (from 1978), the CISA credential proves a computer security pro has skills in auditing.

How much it may cost to get it:  $575-$760 for the exam (depending on membership with ISACA). Prep courses run $800 for ISACA members to $2,595 for third-party classes.

Potential salary: $132,278

Difficulty level in obtaining: IT pros must have at least five years of information system audit, control, or security experience.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

PMP: $143,493

Name of certification: PMI's Project Management Professional (PMP)

Description: While not a technical certification, Project Management Institute PMP is popular among tech professionals who work in product development, computer security, or PM jobs. 

How much it may cost to get it: Between $405 and $555, depending on PMI membership. Prep courses run between $2,000 and $3,000.

Potential salary: $143,493

Difficulty level in obtaining: The PMP requires a college degree and 3-years PM experience or a high school degree (or equivalent) and five-years PM experience, and involves 35 hours of project management education and training. 

Source: Global Knowledge Training

Salesforce Certified Technical Architect: $144,974

Name of certification: Salesforce Certified Technical Architect

Description: This is Salesforce's top expert credential that certifies that an IT pro has mastered designing, building, and maintaining a Salesforce infrastructure.

How much it may cost to get it:  The exam costs $6,000. Salesforce's free online training platform, Trailhead, can help guide through many pre-requisites. Courses with instructors can cost up to $2,700 apiece.

Potential salary: $144,974

Difficulty level in obtaining: This certification will take years to get and require obtaining at least seven (but many people do nine) previous Salesforce certifications.

Source: ZipRecruiter

CRISC: $146,480

Name of certification: ISACA's Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

Description: CRISC is a certification aimed at mid-career level IT professionals that demonstrate that they have the skills for enterprise risk management and control.

How much it may cost to get it: Between $575 and $760 (depending on membership with ISACA). Prep courses run $800 for ISACA members to $2,400 for third-party classes.

Potential salary: $146,480

Difficulty level in obtaining: This credential requires a minimum of three years of related work experience or successfully completing at least two previous ISACA examinations of the four required for certification.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

CISM: $148,622

Name of certification: ISACA's Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Description: The CISM is a popular credential among IT pros that specialize in computer security from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association. It helps security pros demonstrate that they understand the relationship between business needs and security.

How much it may cost to get it: Between $575 and $760 (depending on membership with ISACA) for the exam. Study courses and prep materials can cost between $1,000 and $2,000.

Potential salary: $148,622

Difficulty level in obtaining: This cert requires five years experience in a qualifying technical job. Some candidates may qualify with a year or two of experience if they hold several other pre-requisite certifications.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

CCIE: $149,846

Name of certification: Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)

Description: Cisco's CCIE remains the gold standard in computer networking certifications. It is no longer a single certification but is comprised of six specialties, including classic enterprise infrastructure and Cisco's collaboration tech.

How much it may cost to get it:  Written exams cost $450 and hands-on lab exams are $1,600 per attempt and only available at specific authorized sites. Prep courses can run $6,000, and there will also be costs involved to buy networking hardware.

Potential salary: $149,846

Difficulty level in obtaining:  These expert-level certifications are some of the most difficult certs for an IT pro to earn. It may involve up to a year of study and requires obtaining multiple pre-requisite certifications. 

Source: ZipRecruiter

AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate: $149,446

Name of certification: AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Description: This credential proves that a developer can design and deploy applications using a wide-array of technologies Amazon Web Services — Amazon's cloud platform — across AWS's compute, networking, storage, and database services.

How much it may cost to get it: $150 exam fee to Amazon. Preparation for this course may entail taking up to three third-party training courses costing around $3,000.

Potential salary: Between $130,000 and $149,446

Difficulty level in obtaining: A prerequisite of the beginner-level AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials is recommended, as well as a basic understanding of using AWS. This cert is popular with experienced IT professionals looking to add cloud credentials to their resume.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert: $152,094

Name of certification: Microsoft Azure Solutions Architect Expert

Description: This credential shows that an IT pro has the skills to design and maintain infrastructure on Microsoft's cloud.

How much it may cost to get it:  Each exam costs $160. Free self-study, online training materials are available. Prep courses from third-party trainers can run $4,000.

Potential salary: $152,094

Difficulty level in obtaining:  This cert requires multiple Azure pre-requisites certificates (Administrator Associate and Developer Associate) and also involves two exams (Architect Technologies and Architect Design), according to trainer Global Knowledge.

Source: ZipRecruiter

Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect: $175,761

Name of certification: Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect

Description: This credential, launched in 2017, proves that a developer can build, manage and scale apps and services using a wide-range of Google Cloud technologies. 

How much it may cost to get it: $200 exam fee for Google. Preparation for this cert may entail taking up to five third-party training courses which could cost up to $5,000 and take a couple of months to complete. 

Potential salary: $175,761

Difficulty level in obtaining:  This is one of the most popular advanced Google Cloud certifications and is recommended for IT pros with three or more years of experience. 

Google cloud certifications are valid for two years.

Source: Global Knowledge Training

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