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The 13 most valuable IT certifications today

Looking for a leg up in your IT career? IT certifications remain a proven way to quickly gain valuable skills and demonstrate deeper interest and know-how in a domain that will further your career.

Today's 13 top-paying IT certifications

Certifications and skills can help boost your salary, set you apart from the competition and help you land promotions in your current role. A survey from Global Knowledge found that 83 percent of IT professionals in the U.S. and Canada hold an IT certification — and in the U.S. the average salary for a certified IT professional is on average $8,400 (or 11.7 percent) higher.

Hiring certified professionals is also beneficial for employers. Of those surveyed, 44 percent of IT decision-makers say certifications result in employees performing work faster, 33 percent said it results in more efficiency when implementing systems and 23 percent say it helps deploy products and services faster with fewer errors. 

Here are the 13 trending skills and certifications for tech workers in the new year.

The 13 top-paying certifications of 2018

  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V)
  • Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N)
  • VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV)
  • Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V)
  • ITIL v3 Foundation
  • CompTIA Project +
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching

Related video: 7 IT salary and hiring trends for 2018

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

The ISACA touts the CRISC certification as the “only certification that prepares and enables IT professionals for the unique challenges of IT and enterprise risk management, and positions them to become strategic partners to the enterprise.” This information security certification demonstrates your abilities in risk management, assessment, mitigation, response, monitoring and reporting.

Requirements: To earn a CRISC certification, you will need three years or more experience in at least two of the four topics covered in the certification. You’ll also need to earn Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits each year to uphold the certification. 

Average salary for CRISC certification: $127,507

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The ISACA also offers the CISM certification, which focuses on IT security at the management level. It’s designed to demonstrate proficiency in building, designing and managing enterprise security initiatives.

Requirements: To obtain a CISM certification, you need at least five years of information security experience, and that experience must be within 10 years of your exam date or five years after passing it. You’ll also need to earn CPEs to maintain the certification.

Average salary for CISM certification: $122,448

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

AWS remains the top cloud platform of choice, and the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate certification is designed for those with a background in the AWS platform. It focuses on designing and deploying scalable systems on AWS including how to keep development cost effective without sacrificing on security, reliability and quality.  

Requirements: One year or more of hands-on experience designing systems on AWS, knowledge of at least one high-level programming language, an understanding of best practices around developing AWS-based applications.

Average salary for AWS certification: $119,085

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The CISSP certification is offered by the ISC and accredited under ANSI, formally approved by the U.S. Department of Defense and adopted as a standard for the U.S. National Security Agency’s ISEEP program. It’s recognized globally as a certification designed to help IT security professionals establish best practices around modern security.

Requirements: You will need at least five years of experience in information security and at least three years of experience as a security manager. Experience must be within 10 years of the exam, or five years after passing it. You’ll need to keep the certification up to date with CPE credits and you need to have at least five years of full-time paid experience in two or more of the topics included on the exam.

Average salary for CISSP certification: $118,179

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

The ISACA describes the CISA certification as a “globally recognized certification for IS audit control.” It’s been around since 1978 and focuses on demonstrating your capabilities in every stage of the auditing process, your ability to report on compliance procedures and how well you can assess vulnerabilities.

Requirements: You’ll need at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control or security. There’s an entry-level exam that you will need to pass before moving onto the CISA exam. Like other ISACA certifications, you will need to earn CPE credits to maintain your certification.

Average salary for CISA certification: $110,634

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP certification is also offered through PMI, but takes a more advanced approach to project management. PMI states that a certification in PMP will let you “work in virtually any industry, with any methodology and in any location.”

Requirements: To take the exam, those holding a four-year degree need three years of experience in project management, 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects, and 35 hours of project management education. With a secondary degree, you’ll need 5 years of experience, 7,500 hours leading and direction projects and 35 hours of project management education.

Average salary for PMP certification: $105,324

For additional insights into the PMP certification, see “PMP certification: How to ace the Project Management Professional exam.”

Citrix Certified Professional – Virtualization (CCP-V)

The CCP-V certification demonstrates competency in virtual desktop applications using Citrix technologies. Topics include pre-installation, installing required technologies, configuring technical components and testing configurations. In 2014, certification replaces the Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE) certification and focuses on skills to deploy, maintain and configure solutions based on Citrix’s XenDesktop software.

Requirements: You’ll need to earn your associate-level certification before you can move on to the CCP-V certification.

Average salary for CCP-V certification: $102,353

Citrix Certified Associate – Networking (CCA-N)

The CCA-N certification focuses on demonstrating proficiency in the use of NetScaler Gateway in an enterprise environment. The exam covers topic areas surrounding the use of NetScaler Gateway to securely access remote desktops, applications and data.

Requirements: There are no prerequisites for taking the CCA-N certification. 

Average salary for CCA-N certification: $95,583

VMware Certified Professional 6 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP6-DCV)

VMware’s latest VCP certification, VCP6 – DCV, specifically targets skills to troubleshoot vSphere V6 infrastructures. VMware cites it as one of its most popular certifications globally.

Requirements: To obtain this certification you must first be VCP certified, which is the base level of VMware’s certification program. Every two years, you will need to recertify your current VCP track, choose another VCP track or move up to another exam level.

Average salary for VCP6-DCV certification: $96,309

Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V)

The CCA-V certification is the associate level virtualization certification offered by Citrix. It focuses on managing, maintaining, monitoring and troubleshooting solutions built on the XenDesktop 7.6 platform.

Requirements: There are no prerequisites for taking the CCA-V certification.

Average salary for CCA-V certification: $98,583

ITIL v3 Foundation

The ITIL framework is one of the more popular options for enterprise IT management, helping companies align business goals with IT strategy. It’s been around for over three decades and has remained one of the go-to IT frameworks to this day.

Requirements: There are no prerequisites to take the ITIL v3 Foundation exam.

Average salary for ITIL v3 Foundation certification: $93,638

For additional insights into ITIL certification, see our “ITIL certification guide: Mastering IT services management.”

CompTIA Project +

The Project Plus certification from CompTIA demonstrates project managers’ skills and proficiency in managing a project life cycle. It covers the fundamental skills for project managers, including budgeting, establishing work flow processes and establishing timelines.

Requirements: CompTIA recommends at least 12 months of experience in project management.

Average salary for CompTIA Project+ certification: $92,593

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching

The CCNP certification is for IT pros who have completed their CCNA certification and moved on to the next tier of exams. Under the CCNP certification, you can choose to be certified in cloud, collaboration, data center, routing and switching, security, service provide, or wireless.

Requirements: You’ll need to complete the CCNA Routing and Switching exam or any CCIE exam before moving onto the CCNP certification exam.

Average salary for CCNP Routing and Switching certification: $90,303

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