15 IT management certifications for IT leaders

IT management requires both technical skills and the ability to manage teams, projects and processes. These 15 certifications will help you showcase your IT management skills and abilities.

10 IT management certifications for IT leaders
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IT managers are often responsible not just for overseeing the IT infrastructure in an organization but overseeing IT teams as well. To succeed as an IT manager, you will need to understand the fundamentals of security, data storage, hardware, software, networking and IT management frameworks — and how they all work within the business. Plus, you will need to be adept at managing teams, projects and processes.

The certifications that you’ll want for an IT management position will vary depending on the types of technology you work with and the methodologies your organization subscribes to. But if you’re already on the management track, or have your eye on an IT management career, any one of these 15 IT management certifications will help give you a leg up in the industry.

Top 15 IT management certifications

  • AMA Certified Professional in Management
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)
  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • COBIT 5 Foundation
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Six Sigma
  • TOGAF 9

AMA Certified Professional in Management

The AMA Certified Professional in Management isn’t an IT-specific certification, but it’s a great start for anyone interested in a management path. As an IT manager, you will need all the technical skills of an IT professional, but it’s also important to have the soft skills necessary for effective management. The certification is offered through the American Management Association and covers professional effectiveness, relationship management, business acumen and analytical intelligence.

Exam fee: $450 plus a $50 application processing fee

Expiration: Three years

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

As an IT manager, you’ll be responsible for overseeing multiple IT projects during your career. The CAPM certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) will demonstrate your ability to manage a product or service lifecycle. The CAPM is a generalized entry-level exam, so it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to add project management skills to your resume to help pave a future in IT management. The certification requires you to have a secondary degree and 23 hours of project management education completed by the time you take the exam. If you’re further into your career and already have a background in project management, a higher-level certification such as the PMP (see below) might be a better fit for your IT management career path.

Exam fee: $225 for members, $300 for non-members

Expiration: Does not expire

For additional project management certs, see “Top 11 project management certs for 2018.”

Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

The ISACA claims that IT professionals with a CGEIT certification are among the highest; the ISACA cites an average salary of $141,000 for those holding their CGEIT certification. This certification will show you’re capable of dealing with any security threats and that you’re well-versed on the requirements for IT governance. You’ll need at least five years’ experience in IT governance or management to qualify for the exam. Maintaining your certification also requires an annual maintenance fee of $45 for ISACA members and $85 for non-members.

Exam fee: $575 for ISACA members, $760 for non-members

Expiration: Every three years; at least 20 CPE hours annually and 120 CPE over the course of three-years

For additional IT governance certs, see “The top 6 governance, risk and compliance certifications.”

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

The CSM certification from Scrum Alliance is designed to certify you as a point person to help Scrum teams work efficiently. The CSM is responsible for leading the team, limiting distractions and working across teams and departments to keep projects on track. It requires all the soft and hard skills IT managers need to effectively manage projects and teams. With the certification, you’ll receive a logo to showcase your credentials as well as a two-year membership with Scrum Alliance, which will give you access to online social networks, discounts on events and other resources.

Exam fee: Free for initial certification

Expiration: Two years

For additional agile-related certs, see “7 agile certs to take your career to the next level.”

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Security is a main concern for the enterprise and once you start heading into management and leadership positions, it will become one of your top priorities. A CISSP certification from the ISC can demonstrate your knowledge and abilities around IT security and information assurance. The certification covers high-level topics such as organizational structure, budgeting, managing risk, monitoring and assigning deliverables, communicating with remote teams and executives and managing complex large-scope projects.

Exam fee: $599

Expiration: Three years

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification from the ISACA verifies your knowledge and expertise in information security governance, program development and management and incident and risk management. IT security is a growing priority for businesses and the CISM certification is often required by government agencies hiring IT workers. As an IT manager, you will need to have your pulse on enterprise IT security and the CISM certification can show you have the skills and knowledge to help the business stay secure and mitigate risk.

Exam fee: $525 for ISACA members and $710 for non-members

Expiration: Three years

COBIT 5 Foundation

If your company subscribes to the COBIT 5 IT management framework, you might be interested in the ISACA’s COBIT 5 Foundation exam. The foundation and implementation exams will demonstrate your ability to understand IT challenges and how COBIT can be applied to fix organizational and process problems. It can demonstrate you have the management skills necessary to align IT goals with strategic business objectives, understand the value derived from IT and that you understand various types of IT governance frameworks. The COBIT exam is offered by a variety of vendors — some include training or bootcamp programs if you’re not familiar with COBIT 5, while others will let you just take the exam.

Exam fee: Varies by vendor

Expiration: Does not expire

CompTIA Network+

The CompTIA Network+ certification verifies that you have the knowledge and skills to design, implement, configure, manage and maintain networks and network devices. It also verifies that you are capable when it comes to implementing network security, standards and protocol and troubleshooting network problems. While it’s not a management-specific certification, networking is a core skill for any IT professional and it will be a vital skill on your path to IT management.

Exam fee: $329

Expiration: Three years

CompTIA Project+

CompTIA’s Project+ certification is a high-level exam designed for “professionals who need to manage smaller, less complex projects as part of their other job duties but still have foundational project management skills.” It’s a versatile certification that covers multiple methodologies, frameworks and management concepts — best suited for those who “coordinate or manage small-to-medium sized projects.” The certification validates your ability and knowledge with managing project life cycles, change management, managing resources and stakeholders and maintaining appropriate communication and documentation.

Exam fee: $329

Expiration: Does not expire

For additional project management certs, see “Top 11 project management certs for 2018.”

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

The ITIL framework from Axelos is a cornerstone in IT service and if your organization subscribes to the methodology a certification will help prove your ITIL expertise. It’s a great certification for IT managers because it focuses heavily on implementing effective management strategies to improve team efficiency and to improve organizational processes. You can be certified up to the expert level, which demonstrates high competency in ITIL best practices. Like the COBIT 5 certification, you’ll have to find a third-party vendor that offers an accredited program or exam. Prices will vary depending on the company or training provider you choose.

Exam fee: Varies, depending on vendor

Expiration: Does not expire

For a deeper look at the ITIL cert, see “ITIL certification: Mastering IT services management.”

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) certifications from Microsoft certify your abilities and knowledge in several IT areas such as business applications, core infrastructure, data management and analytics, mobility and productivity. It’s a well-rounded certification scheme that will validate your skills and abilities working with the Microsoft suite of apps and services. The certifications also cover topics that will be your main priority as an IT manager including leveraging business intelligence data, creating a strategy for BYOD, moving your organization’s assets to the cloud, building enterprise-scale apps and services and how to efficiently run an IT department. Note, however, that Microsoft is in the process of altering its certification scheme, with MCSEs giving way to new role-based credentials over the coming months.

Exam fee: Varies by exam

Expiration: Three years

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

IT managers and leaders who rely on the agile framework will benefit from a PMI-ACP certification. This certification demonstrates your ability to work on or lead an agile team. It covers Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP) and test-driven development (TDD). To qualify for the exam, you will need a secondary degree, 21 contact hours of training in agile practices and eight months of agile project experience within the past five years. You’ll also need at least 12 months of general project experience within the past five years but if you already have a PMP or PgMP certification, that will also satisfy this requirement.

Exam fee: $435 for members, $495 for non-members

Expiration: Three years

For additional agile-related certs, see “7 agile certs to take your career to the next level.”

Project Management Professional (PMP)

If you already have a strong background in project management, you might want to consider PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The PMP exam requires extensive experience and a background in project management, which makes it more difficult to obtain. You will need a four-year degree, 36 months of experience leading projects and 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certification. You can also qualify for the exam with a high school diploma or associate’s degree, 60 months experience leading projects and 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certification.

Exam fee: $405 for PMI members, $555 for non-members

Expiration: Three years

Six Sigma

There are 5 levels of certification within the Six Sigma methodology, starting with green belt. From there, you’ll move up the hierarchy to the top level — Executive Leadership. It’s a mentorship and training program that emphasizes IT project management and leadership. Each level mentors a lower level of Six Sigma trainees, emphasizing effective leadership through change and staying agile through organizational transformation. Certifications are offered through your organization or through third-party vendors, so pricing will vary depending on the available options.

Exam fee: Varies by vendor

Expiration: Does not expire

TOGAF 9

TOGAF 9 is a standard developed by The Open Group for enterprise architecture management. TOGAF 9 certification is designed to certify your knowledge in a “common body of core knowledge about the methodology and framework. The framework is specifically focused on enterprise architecture and aligning IT goals with business goals. As an IT management framework, it will help demonstrate your capabilities with cross-departmental communication, defining business and IT goals and eliminating process errors across the organization. Like the ITIL and COBIT 5 certifications, you’ll need to find a third-party vendor to take the exam.

Exam fee: Varies by vendor

Expiration: Does not expire

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