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4 programming certifications that boost your earnings

March 23, 2017 | By Bee Nguyen, TEKsystems Marketing Communications Strategist

male eats pizza and looks at computer screen code

A hot job market for developers presents a chance to make big strides in your career. You’ve got the education, the experience and the confidence, but the big question remains:

Is a programming certification worth the investment?

We have new research into the value of programming certifications to help answer that question.

It’s first worth acknowledging that programmers have mixed opinions on whether you need to get accredited to show your value. While some say certifications are a real help getting your foot in the door, others say they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on—and a few even argue they hold you back.

What we do know is that getting certified can ease your resume past the initial HR screening and bolster your credibility with hiring managers. However, how much a programming certification can help depends on which language you specialize in and the type of employer you want to work for. If you’re looking to work in a large enterprise or organization, or working with established technologies (particularly Microsoft), a programming certification will be a strong asset. Employers also look favorably upon certifications in newer technologies like big data processing.

And while employers don’t necessarily always filter out those who lack certifications, new research shows certifications can add a considerable boost to your salary.

Programming certifications: 4 that pay off

Below are four of the most popular IT programming certifications today. Learn about their costs, prerequisites and most importantly, how much they can increase your earning potential.

1. MongoDB Certified Developer Associate

Aimed at mid-career database administrators and developers, the MongoDB Certified DBA is inexpensive and in demand. The certification doesn’t expire but it’s only good for the product’s current release. MongoDB sweetens the pot by offering free online classes for you to prepare.

  • Career level: Mid
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Exam fee: $150
  • How long the certification lasts: Never expires
  • Annual potential salary increase: $12,988

Learn more about the MongoDB Certified Developer Associate

2. Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)

This well-respected certification used to have several specialization tracks, but Microsoft is beginning to merge them into a more general App Builder certification. After earning the certification, developers and programmers can enhance their transcript with electives that keep their credentials current.

  • Career level: Mid
  • Prerequisites: MCSA: Web Applications certification or MCSA: Universal Windows Platform certification
  • Exam fee: $450
  • How long the certification lasts: The App Builder version doesn’t expire but Microsoft recommends keeping your transcript fresh by adding electives
  • Annual potential salary increase: $9,876

Learn more about the MCSD

3. CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer

Big data? Perhaps you’ve heard of it. This exam helps to bridge the experience gap in the lucrative field of big data. It requires you know how to code in Python and Scala and lets you showcase your skills in Spark and Hadoop projects. After passing the exam, you’ll receive a logo to use on resumes and a license to authenticate CCA status.

  • Career level: Mid
  • Prerequisites: None
  • Exam: $295
  • How long the certification lasts: Two years
  • Annual potential salary increase: $2,865

Learn more about the CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer

4. Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)

There’s no denying the CSSLP will cost you a pretty penny, along with a yearly maintenance fee of $100, but many companies value it as the standard qualifying credential in the application security field. To help prepare you for the comprehensive exam, (ISC)2 provides week-long trainings, self-study classes and flash cards on their website.

  • Career level: Mid
  • Prerequisites: Four years of experience in a related domain or a four-year college degree and three years of experience
  • Exam: $549
  • How long the certification lasts: Three years
  • Annual potential salary increase: $20,600

Bee Nguyen is a marketing communications strategist for TEKsystems, the No. IT staffing company in North America. You can find her on LinkedIn.

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