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IT certifications: Which one is right for you?

As an IT professional, you’ve probably wondered if you should pursue a certification. 

We've researched potential value and created a few tools to help you answer these questions:

  • Which certifications will help your career the most? 
  • How expensive are they?
  • Is getting certified worth the investment?

While the IT community has a love/hate relationship with certifications, our research shows they can provide a real boost to your IT career and earning potential.

Tools for choosing the best options for your career:

  • Chart: Compare the cost and salary benefits of popular certifications
  • Quick info: Explore our detailed information about the prerequisites, costs and potential salary increases

IT certifications comparison chart

Note: Find out more about our methodology below the chart.

Cloud

Certification

5-Year Cost

Related Jobs

Prerequisites

Potential Salary Increase

MCSE - Private Cloud

$600

cloud or systems administrators

MCSA

$17,271

MCSE - Private Cloud

$600

IT manager

MCSA

$5,190

AWS - CSA

$450

solutions architect

1 year AWS experience

insufficient data

CompTIA Cloud+

$285

end user support

none

$12,700

CompTIA Cloud+

$285

infosec analyst

none

$3,100

CompTIA Cloud Essentials

$570

end user support

none

$8,500

CompTIA Cloud Essentials

$570

infosec analyst

none

$4,278

CCSK

$345

infosec analyst, cloud architect or administrator

none

$24,379

MCSE - Private Cloud

$600

cloud or systems administrators

MCSA

$17,271

MCSE - Private Cloud

$600

IT manager

MCSA

$5,190

AWS - CSA

$450

solutions architect

1 year AWS experience

insufficient data

CompTIA Cloud+

$285

end user support

none

$12,700

CompTIA Cloud+

$285

infosec analyst

none

$3,100

CompTIA Cloud Essentials

$570

end user support

none

$8,500

CompTIA Cloud Essentials

$570

infosec analyst

none

$4,278

CCSK

$345

infosec analyst, cloud architect or administrator

none

$24,379

Data

Certification

5-Year Cost

Related Jobs

Prerequisites

Potential Salary Increase

MTA

$115

IT specialist, IT technician, technical support, help desk

none

$3,980

MongoDB Certified DBA

$150

database administrator

none

$14,300

MongoDB Certified DBA

$150

application developer

none

$13,890

MTA

$115

IT specialist, IT technician, technical support, help desk

none

$3,980

MongoDB Certified DBA

$150

database administrator

none

$14,300

MongoDB Certified DBA

$150

application developer

none

$13,890

Information Security

Certification

5-Year Cost

Related Jobs

Prerequisites

Potential Salary Increase

GSEC

$1,548

security engineer, infosec engineer

none

insufficient data

GSEC

$1,548

security analyst

none

insufficient data

CEH

$2,499

security analyst or specialist, penetration tester

2 years experience or training

$15,300

CISSP

$939

security analyst, specialist or manager

4 years experience

$16,273

CompTIA Security+

$311

security specialist, security manager

none

$7,320

CSSLP

$949

security engineer, application security, quality assurance

4 years experience

$20,600

GSEC

$1,548

security engineer, infosec engineer

none

insufficient data

GSEC

$1,548

security analyst

none

insufficient data

CEH

$2,499

security analyst or specialist, penetration tester

2 years experience or training

$15,300

CISSP

$939

security analyst, specialist or manager

4 years experience

$16,273

CompTIA Security+

$311

security specialist, security manager

none

$7,320

CSSLP

$949

security engineer, application security, quality assurance

4 years experience

$20,600

IT Management

Certification

5-Year Cost

Related Jobs

Prerequisites

Potential Salary Increase

Six Sigma Green Belt

$295

IT manager, IT project manager

none

$21,052

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

$395

IT project manager

none

$14,792

ITIL Foundation

$524

project manager, IT manager, IT director

none

$21,338

ITIL Expert

Varies

IT director, IT manager

ITIL Foundation and MALC

$22,622

CompTIA A+

$299

technical support specialist, IT support, field support

none

$4,330

ScrumMaster, CSM

$1,000

scrum master, project manager

none (must take course)

$11,470

PMP

$705

IT project manager, IT program manager

education and training

$16,777

CAPM

$300

IT project manager

experience or education

$3,950

Six Sigma Green Belt

$295

IT manager, IT project manager

none

$21,052

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

$395

IT project manager

none

$14,792

ITIL Foundation

$524

project manager, IT manager, IT director

none

$21,338

ITIL Expert

Varies

IT director, IT manager

ITIL Foundation and MALC

$22,622

CompTIA A+

$299

technical support specialist, IT support, field support

none

$4,330

ScrumMaster, CSM

$1,000

scrum master, project manager

none (must take course)

$11,470

PMP

$705

IT project manager, IT program manager

education and training

$16,777

CAPM

$300

IT project manager

experience or education

$3,950

Computer Networking

Certification

5-Year Cost

Related Jobs

Prerequisites

Potential Salary Increase

MCSA - Windows Server 2012

$450

systems administrator, network administrator

none

insufficient data

MCSA - Windows Server 2012

$450

IT manager

none

$7,430

MCSE - Server Infrastructure

$600

systems administrator, network administrator, database administrator, systems engineer

MCSA

$4,200

LPIC 1

$376

systems administrator

none

$3,890

LPIC 2

$376

devops, developers

LPIC 1

insufficient data

RHCSA

$800

systems administrator, Linux support

none

insufficient data

RHCSA

$800

Linux engineer

none

$7,430

CCIE

$2,650

network engineer, network architect, systems engineer, solutions architect

none

$22,674

CCNP

$1,000

network engineer

CCNA or CCIE

$11,329

MCSA - Windows Server 2012

$450

systems administrator, network administrator

none

insufficient data

MCSA - Windows Server 2012

$450

IT manager

none

$7,430

MCSE - Server Infrastructure

$600

systems administrator, network administrator, database administrator, systems engineer

MCSA

$4,200

LPIC 1

$376

systems administrator

none

$3,890

LPIC 2

$376

devops, developers

LPIC 1

insufficient data

RHCSA

$800

systems administrator, Linux support

none

insufficient data

RHCSA

$800

Linux engineer

none

$7,430

CCIE

$2,650

network engineer, network architect, systems engineer, solutions architect

none

$22,674

CCNP

$1,000

network engineer

CCNA or CCIE

$11,329

Programming

Certification

5-Year Cost

Related Jobs

Prerequisites

Potential Salary Increase

MongoDB Certified Developer

$150

software engineer

none

$12,988

MCSD

$1,350

software developer, software engineer

none

$9,876

CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer

$885

software engineer, data scientist

none

$2,865

CSSLP

$949

security engineer, application security, quality assurance

4 years experience

$20,600

Google Apps CDS

$400

deployment specialist

none

insufficient data

CLA

$148

programmer

none

insufficient data

CPP

$146

programmer

CLA and CPA

insufficient data

MongoDB Certified Developer

$150

software engineer

none

$12,988

MCSD

$1,350

software developer, software engineer

none

$9,876

CCA Spark and Hadoop Developer

$885

software engineer, data scientist

none

$2,865

CSSLP

$949

security engineer, application security, quality assurance

4 years experience

$20,600

Google Apps CDS

$400

deployment specialist

none

insufficient data

CLA

$148

programmer

none

insufficient data

CPP

$146

programmer

CLA and CPA

insufficient data

Our methodology

Using internal data from a 12-month period, we compared the salaries offered for similar job categories that requested certifications against those that didn’t. When our sample size wasn’t large enough for analysis, we noted “insufficient data” in the salary column.

We discovered many IT certifications can add a considerable boost to your salary. However, it’s important to note that many factors, such as your position, location and industry, affect the salary results. There’s also no guarantee you’ll receive a raise immediately after getting certified. While an employer may reward you, the real value is being ready to advance your career—a certification can help you pursue higher-level IT positions.

In some cases, our results showed the salary increase varies a lot by role, particularly for management vs. technical positions. In those instances, we broke out the salary increase by role type.

Finally, the true cost of an IT certification can be much more than the price of the exam. Therefore, the five-year cost includes the exam price plus any mandatory training required by the certifying body, as well as maintenance and recertification fees incurred within five years.

Additional resources

Tom’s IT Pro offers excellent insider knowledge of the best certifications within IT specialties. We highly recommend you explore this resource.

Are you a TEKsystems consultant? You can access thousands of free IT classes, including many popular certification tracks. Find out more.