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Top Certifications in IT Field

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Like every year, we offer you an overview of the certifications and skills that pay the best. This article is based on the annual survey carried out by Global Knowledge on skills and salaries in the IT field.

Our previous article on the 6 best paying certifications continues to be the most read article on this blog. Here is the version with some notable evolutions. There is a real shift towards new certifications and skills corresponding to the best salaries. However, we can see huge differences depending on the geographical area. They fully correspond to the economy and the needs of businesses in each of the zones. However, it remains clear that wages are dependent on the supply of skills and regional demand.


Are you chasing big salaries? This article introduces you to the highest paid certifications. However, it also tells you what employers expect from you and what that entails. Certification is not enough … It is, for a potential employer, a reasonable assurance as to your knowledge in the case of current certifications and also of your competence in the case of professional certifications. The research three criteria:
  • knowledge (based on your academic degrees and standard certifications),
  • know-how (based on your professional certifications and experience),
  • your interpersonal skills based on the evaluation of your behavior and your attitude (the recruiter will seek this information on social networks, from your professional and personal entourage).
In any case, tell yourself that your future employer will verify the reality of what you advertise in your CV. So no need to claim a certification that you do not have. Checking with the certification body will immediately reveal the deception. It will backfire on you. Moreover, some certification bodies do not hesitate to file a complaint against fraudsters and demand significant fines.

Standard certifications vs professional certifications

When we talk about certification, we must always pay attention to the meaning we give to the words. Standard certifications are in essence certifications resulting from simply passing an exam. This is the case for ITIL , PRINCE2, VERISM certifications, certain COBIT certifications, etc. They are often referred to as Foundation, Practitioner, Intermediate or Advanced. No experience in the field is claimed and the certification is valid without time limit.

In the case of professional certifications, conversely, passing the exam is only the first step. Then it is necessary to prove a minimum experience of 3 to 5 years in the field concerned. The certification body therefore verifies the candidate’s previous employers on the value and duration of his experience as well as his attitude and behavior. It is only when this verification is positive that the certification is issued.

In general, professional certifications have a limited duration, often 3 years. Every year or every 3 years, the organization requires proof that the certified has followed a minimum number of training hours (CPD / CPE / CPU). The certified must also pay again a significant amount for the renewal of his certification. The certification body then carries out random checks on the experience acquired during the 3 years as well as on the behavior of the certified during this period. On this occasion, the certification can be withdrawn.

Professional certifications include CISA, CISM , CGEIT, CRISC , PMP, CIA , ISO 27001 Lead Implementer or ISO 27001 Lead Auditor. It is obvious that professional certifications, more “serious”, are the most sought after by employers. They are therefore also, logically, those which correspond to the best wages.

The most sought-after skills

The skills most in demand are naturally the ones that pay the most. It is quite simply the law of supply and demand. Let’s take a look at the 5 skill areas that generate the most demand. It should be noted that this is a search for certified professionals who can demonstrate several years of experience in the field. So these are areas in which employers primarily seek professional certification holders. Note, however, that among these 5 most sought-after skills, two certifications are at Foundation level (COBIT 5 Foundation and Six Sigma Green Belt).


As in the last three years, security certifications hold the top positions in terms of remuneration. When we expand the list to the top 20, six certifications are related to global security, including the top two places: CISSP from (ISC) 2 and CRISC from ISACA . ISACA’s CISM ranks sixth in the world and eighth in EMEA . The CISSP records the highest average global salary with € 70,177 in EMEA ($ 100,146 in the USA , which represents a difference of more than 27% between the two geographical areas). IT professionals with security certifications tend to have overall average salaries 15% (in the US) to 63% (in the Asia-Pacific region) higher than the average for other certified.

The Cloud

Cloud-related certifications, including AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, have average salaries well above the norm. In North America, the average salary of AWS Certified IT staff is 10% higher than that of staff with another cloud certification and 29% higher than the average salary of certified IT professionals in another field. However, the salary increase for certified cloud computing professionals is not limited to those with AWS certifications. The focus on the cloud has spread to other functional areas as well. Help-desks and technical support teams are actively seeking professionals with certifications in cloud computing and networking.

Project management

Certified project managers in North America also have above-standard average salaries. This is especially true for those with a PMP certification ($ 103,406) compared to the average of other certified project management professionals, for example PRINCE2 ($ 97,745). The trend is much less clear in the EMEA region. We are also seeing the emergence this year of a growing demand for project managers certified on an agile method. In this context it is the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification with an average salary of $ 98,562 that holds the lead.

Governance and management

ISACA is an independent association focused on the adoption and use of best practices in governance and management of information and technology in organizations. ISACA has six certifications in the world’s top 20, including CGEIT , CISA, CRISC and CISM . A clear trend is also emerging with an increasing demand for certified professionals on COBIT 5 . This translates into an average salary of certified professionals COBIT 5 Foundation which now reaches 65,000 € in the EMEA region.

Six Sigma skills

Six Sigma Green Belt certification is sponsored by the independent association IASSC . It is a basic certification on a set of techniques and tools for improving processes. A clear trend also emerges in favor of professionals with Six Sigma Green Belt certification who obtain an average salary of $ 99,865 in North America and 69,000 Euros in EMEA , i.e. a difference of 21%, the lowest of the top 20 certifications. .

The top twenty salaries by certification

The results of the ranking are extremely interesting because they show a significant change. The big news is the arrival in force of AWS (Amazon) certifications in the first places of the ranking. Conversely, the certifications which monopolized the first places in recent years have suffered a sharp decline (CISA, PMP ). We also see appearing in 7th position a certification that entered the top 10: COBIT 5 Foundation. It should also be noted that this year the CISCO CCNP certifications completely disappear from the ranking. The other lesson of this ranking is the very significant difference in wages between the EMEA region and North America. Wages in EMEA are pulled down significantly by the Africa zone as shown in the following map.


These elements can help you choose among the available certifications the ones that are best for you. Of course the salary is a criterion, but remember that certification does not guarantee the level of salary. It is your skills and your suitability for the market that will make the difference.

Do not hesitate to comment on this article by bringing your testimonies on your personal experience. Also ask us questions. Our experts will be happy to answer you. If this article seemed interesting to you, do not hesitate to share it on social networks and to “like” us if you wish.

This talk is part of the IT Certifications series.

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