Today's top stories

Top 15 IT certifications in demand for 2021

IT certifications can help you quickly gain and validate valuable skills and know-how in a domain that will further your career. Here are the most popular IT certs today.

Top 15 certifications in demand for 2020
Getty Images

Today's top stories

Show More

Certifications can validate your IT skills and experience to show employers you have the expertise to get the job done. You can get certified in skills you already have or skills you’d like to put to use in your career — whatever your reason, certifications are a great way to strengthen your resume and set yourself apart from other candidates in a job search.

According to the 2021 IT Salary report from Robert Half, IT professionals holding the following popular certifications can earn 5% to 10% more than their peers. Whether you’re just starting out and building your resume or you’ve been in the industry for 20 years, there’s a certification that can help boost your salary and your career.

15 most in-demand certifications for 2021

  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
  • Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)
  • Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE)
  • Certified Data Professional (CDP)
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Information Security manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Cisco Certified Professional Network Professional (CCNP)
  • Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)
  • Oracle Certified MySQL Database Administrator (CMDBA)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

Amazon offers a long list of AWS certifications, but the AWS Certified Solutions Architect is one of the most popular cloud computing certifications you can earn. AWS is widely used at companies large and small, so whether you already work for a company using AWS or plan to in the future, it’s a good choice for your resume. The certification focuses on your ability to design and deploy scalable systems on AWS with a focus on keeping it cost effective without sacrificing on security, reliability and quality.

Average annual salary (according to PayScale): $113,000

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification is offered through the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)². The certification demonstrates your knowledge and abilities when designing, managing and securing data, applications and infrastructure in the cloud. It’s designed for those working with cloud technology including enterprise architects, security administrators, systems engineers, security architects, systems architects or consultants, engineers or managers. The certification exam covers cloud concepts, architecture, design, security and risk and compliance. While not required, the (ISC)² recommends having at least five years of experience in IT, with at least three years in information security and one year in one or more of the six domains found in the CCSP CBOK.

Average annual salary: $118,559

Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE)

The Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE) certification offered through the ISACA is designed to demonstrate you have the skills to navigate the increasing complexity of data privacy and security. It’s an experience-based technical certification that assesses your ability to “implement privacy by design which results in privacy technology platforms and products that build trust and advance data privacy.” To qualify for the exam, you will need at least five years’ experience in privacy governance and architecture. But if you already hold a CISA, CRISC, CISM, CGEIT or CSX-P certification, the 2 years of the experience requirement will be waived.

Average annual salary: No data yet as this is a relatively new certification

Certified Data Professional (CDP)

Available from the Institute for Certification of Computing Professionals (ICCP), the Certified Data Professional (CDP) certification offers several learning paths. CDP candidates can choose from a range of domains, including business analytics, data analytics and design, data governance, data integration and interoperability, data management, data warehousing, enterprise data architecture, information systems or IT management and more. The CDP is offered at various levels starting with foundation and moving on to associate, mastery, principal and ending at the final level of executive management.

Average annual salary: $45,000

Certified Ethical Hacker

Offered through the EC-Council, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification demonstrates your ability to find vulnerabilities in computer systems and to prevent hacking. As an ethical hacker, you’re someone who uses the same skills, techniques and knowledge as a malicious hacker to help establish better security measures to prevent future attacks. Ethical hackers are responsible for finding weaknesses in the organization’s networks and systems, and then use that knowledge to protect the company against potential threats.

Average annual salary: $81,000

Certified Information Security manager (CISM)

The ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification covers information security governance — a topic that is a growing concern for businesses globally. The certification is designed for IT pros who work with or manage IT security and want to demonstrate their expertise in information security governance, information risk management, information security program development and management and information security incident management. It’s recommended to have experience in IS or IT security — the certification is aimed at those working in IT who have an eye on the management track.

Average annual salary: $126,525

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification offered through the (ISC)² demonstrates your knowledge and abilities with IT security and information assurance. The certification covers topics such as organizational structure, security and risk management, asset security, security operations, identity and access management (IAM), security assessment and testing and security architecture and engineering. You’ll need at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains included in the (ISC)² CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). You may be able to satisfy one year of experience with a relevant four-year college degree or if you hold an approved credential.

Average annual salary: $114,293

Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification is the highest level of certification you can reach in Cisco’s program. The expert-level certifications are offered in specialty areas, including enterprise infrastructure, enterprise wireless, data center, security, service provider and collaboration. Once you have passed your CCIE exam in your topic of choice, you will have reached the highest level of Cisco certification currently available. Before you can earn your expert-level certification, it’s recommended to have at least five to seven years of experience in the certification subject. 

Average annual salary: $126,000

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

The Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is offered in several specializations, including security, wireless, routing and switching, industrial, IoT, data center, cyber operations, collaboration and cloud. The exam covers network fundamentals, network access, IP connectivity, IP services, security fundamentals and automation and programmability. You’ll need at least one year of experience working with Cisco products and services, basic knowledge of IP addressing and a strong understanding of network fundamentals to pass the exam.

Average annual salary: $78,000

Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) certifications will be the next step on your Cisco certification journey after you earn your CCNA. With CCNP, you can choose to be certified in enterprise, data center, security, service provider, collaboration, CyberOps or DevNet. You’ll need to pass an exam at the CCNP level to move on to the final expert level of certifications. It’s recommended to have at least three to five years of experience in any certification path you choose.

Average annual salary: $95,000

Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert

The Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert Certification is designed for cloud professionals who are responsible for advising stakeholders and building reliable cloud solutions for the business. The expert-level exam covers your skills and knowledge when it comes to deploying and configuring infrastructure, implementing workloads and security, and creating and deploying apps. The exam also covers topics such as designing a data platform solution, business continuity and infrastructure strategy, and how to develop for the cloud. You’ll need to know how to determine workload requirements, design data platform solutions, create a business continuity strategy, and design for deployment, migration, and integration.

Average annual salary: $119,412

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

Microsoft offers several Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certifications in topics such as BI reporting, Office 365, database development, web applications, Windows Server, Windows 10 and several other Microsoft products and services. The MCSA certification is designed for entry-level tech workers, so if you’re just starting out in your IT career, you’ll find these certifications helpful for strengthening your resume. Please note, however, that Microsoft is revamping its certification program, and the MCSA is giving way to role-based certifications.

Average annual salary: $75,000

Oracle Certified MySQL Database Administrator (CMDBA)

The MySQL Database Administration (CMDBA) certification offered through Oracle University is designed for database administrators who want to prove their skills with increasing performance, integrating business process, and managing business process and data. The certification allows you to “prove your ability to deliver reliability and performance to current and future employers” and to gain “in-demand skills to scale database applications and integrate your business.” Certification paths include Professional, Specialist, and Developer — you will need to pass the MySQL Database Administrator Certified Professional Exam Part 1 and Part 2 to earn your certification.

Average annual salary: $88,873

Project Management Professional (PMP)

The PMP certification is offered through Project Management Institute and is targeted at advanced project management professionals. The certification covers the fundamentals of project management, including the five main stages of a project’s life cycle: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, and controlling and closing. To take the exam, you’ll need at least a four-year degree and three years of experience in project management, 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education. If you have a secondary degree, you’ll need five years of experience, 7,500 hours leading and directing projects and 35 hours of project management education.

Average annual salary: $106,000

Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer

The Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer certification falls under Salesforce’s architect certifications track. This certification exam is offered as a specialization you can take under the Certified Systems Architect certification path. It’s designed for IT pros responsible for assessing the company’s architecture environment and requirements and certifies your ability to implement management solutions on the Salesforce platform.

Average annual salary: $91,000

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

Watch out for these 6 IT management traps to avoid