Choose your language:



Hong Kong




New Zealand




United Kingdom

United States

Upskilling that pays: IT certifications

Explore our comprehensive list of IT certifications worth the investment

Aug. 7, 2020 | By: TEKsystems

Young female professional seated at workstation in the evening reviewing certifications on a tablet

The need for skilled technology professionals is exponentially growing as is the need for a tangible way to prove your skills, market yourself in today’s competitive job landscape and show that you’re a modern worker. Enter: certifications. Offering the most reward for your money investment, certifications are a way to prove dedication to your craft, upskill and ultimately help you get hired, promoted or obtain a higher-level position.

From the highest paying, to the unsung heroes, we’ve mapped out a comprehensive list of certifications worth the investment.

Disclaimer: This is an opinion piece; we can't guarantee any outcome or improvement in job opportunities or compensation.

The 3 highest paying IT certifications

Recently, Forbes published a list of the highest-paying IT certifications. The top 3 include:

Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect

As more and more businesses move to the cloud, it's getting increasingly more difficult to find correctly skilled IT pros and fill those much needed positions. This GCP certification addresses this skills gap by showing that an individual has the "skills to design, develop and manage a secure, scalable cloud architecture using Google Cloud Partner technologies."

  • Cost: $200 exam fee
  • Exam: Two hours; available online or at a local test center
  • Difficulty: Moderate; 3+ years of industry experience recommended

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

AWS remains one the most industry-recognized and widely used cloud providers. This certification indicates that an individual “effectively demonstrates knowledge of how to architect and deploy secure and robust applications on AWS technologies,”—validating your credentials and growing your career.

  • Cost: $150 exam fee
  • Exam: 130 minutes; available at Pearson VUE and PSI network testing centers
  • Difficulty: Moderate; intended for individuals who perform a solutions architect role and have 1+ years of hands-on AWS experience

Explore open cloud career opportunities

CISM – Certified Information Security Manager

Looking to move from a security technologist to IT manager? CISM is your ticket—validating your credibility as an “expert in IS/IT audit, control and information security,” ultimately making you vital to your organization and a standout candidate for hiring managers or promotion opportunities.

  • Cost: $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-members
  • Exam: Four hours; available online or at a local test center
  • Pre-requisites: A minimum of five years of experience in information security
  • Difficulty: Hard; with a 50% pass rate, studying and preparing yourself for the mental pressure of the test, and making sure you have done well on several practice exams first allows you to pass with the best score

Explore open security career opportunities

The hidden gems

Our research demonstrates that most certifications pay off, but you must pay up front. If you’re looking for a bargain, here are two picks under $500 that can add the most to your earning potential.

MongoDB Certified DBA (Database Administrator)

Database administrators and application developers may wish to add a MongoDB certification to their profile. With a $150 exam price, free prep classes from Mongo and no maintenance fee, the certification is practically free and can add a considerable boost each year to your salary.

  • Cost: $150 exam fee
  • Exam: 90 minutes; available online
  • Difficulty: Moderate; MongoDB recommends you understand system programming and database fundamentals, as well as basic JavaScript

Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge – CCSK

The Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) is aimed primarily at cloud and InfoSec pros, but the CCSK is also recommended for people who manage cloud vendors and contracts. The CCSK doesn't validate or substitute for practical experience, but it's a great way to demonstrate knowledge of cloud models, security risks and best practices. Many IT pros obtain it in conjunction with a higher-level cloud certification.

  • Cost: $345 exam fee, which also includes a free retake; free update modules are offered with new versions; no continuing education or maintenance fees
  • Exam: 90 minutes; available online and open book
  • Difficulty: Hard

The data certification that gives you an edge

While companies do prize business intelligence and data management skills, they don’t usually regard data certifications as a substitute for secondary education. That being said, if you already possess a related degree and a passion for analytics, this data certification can help give you an edge if you’re job hunting or angling for a promotion.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert MCSE: Data Management and Analytics

If you’re building a career in data platform administration or business intelligence, MCSE can support your credibility. This prestigious, advanced data analytics certificate demonstrates a broad skill set in “SQL administration, building enterprise-scale data solutions and leveraging business intelligence data—on-prem and in cloud environments.”

  • Cost: $165
  • Exam: 120 minutes; available online
  • Difficulty: Hard; intended for individuals with multiple years of expertise in leveraging BI data and SQL administration

Explore open data career opportunities

Talent Forward

Uncertainty is never easy to navigate. One way to own your future? Stay sharp.

Learn more