10 IT management certifications for IT leaders

IT management requires both technical skills and the ability to manage teams, projects and processes. These 10 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 10 IT management certifications will help give you a leg up in the industry.

Top 10 IT management certifications

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

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 handle the responsibility of managing a product or service lifecycle. The CAPM is a generalized entry-level exam, but if you already have a background in project management, you might want to consider PMI’s Project Management Professional certification. The PMP exam requires extensive experience and a background in project management, which makes it more difficult to obtain.

  • Exam fee: $225 for members, $300 for non-members
  • Retake fee: $150 for members, $200 for non-members
  • Renewal fee: $225 for members, $300 for non-members
  • Renewal exam fee: $150 for members, $200 for non-members
  • Expiration: 5 years

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 2016 IT Skills and Salary Report from Global Knowledge cites an average salary of $131,443 for those with 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.

  • Exam fee: $420 early-registration for members, $600 for non-members; $470 deadline-fee for members, $650 for non-members
  • Retake fee: N/A
  • Renewal fee: $45 annual fee for members, $85 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
  • Retake fee: Two free attempts within 60 days; $25 per try after the 60 days.
  • Renewal fee: $100
  • 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 like organizational structure, budgeting, managing risk, monitoring and assigning deliverables, communicating with remote teams and executives and managing complex large-scope projects.

  • Exam fee: $699
  • Retake fee: N/A
  • Renewal fee: $85 annual maintenance fee
  • Expiration: Three years

COBIT 5 Foundation Certification

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. The COBIT exam is offered by various vendors — some include training or boot camp programs if you’re not familiar with COBIT 5, while others will let you just take the exam.

  • Exam fee: Varies by vendor
  • Retake fee: Varies by vendor
  • Renewal fee: N/A
  • Expiration: Does not expire

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 cover multiple methodologies, frameworks and management concepts — best suited for those who “coordinate or manage small-to-medium sized projects.”

  • Exam fee: $302
  • Retake fee: $302 for another exam, or you can buy a bundle that includes a retake voucher for $389
  • Renewal fee: N/A
  • 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 managers of all levels, because it focuses heavily on implementing effective management strategies to improve team efficiency and to improve process in the organization. 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
  • Retake fee: Varies
  • Renewal fee: N/A
  • Expiration: Does not expire

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

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 need 2,000 hours of project management experience or a current PMP or PgMP certification, an additional 1,500 hours working on agile project teams or with agile methodologies and 21 contact hours of training in agile practices.

  • Exam fee: $435 for members, $495 for non-members
  • Retake fee: Two free retakes within one year of the initial exam
  • Renewal: 30 PDU (professional development unit) credits every three years
  • Expiration: Three years

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

Six Sigma Certification

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
  • Retake fee: Varies by vendor
  • Renewal fee: N/A
  • Expiration: Does not expire

TOGAF 9 Certification

The TOGAF 9 is a standard developed by The Open Group for enterprise architecture management. It’s designed to certify your knowledge in a “common body of core knowledge about the methodology and framework. The TOGAF 9 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
  • Retake fee: Varies by vendor
  • Renewal fee: N/A
  • Expiration: Does not expire
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