A rapidly evolving labor market and increased competition for skilled, certified professionals have made it more difficult for IT companies to attract and retain the best and brightest minds. Companies are increasingly looking for professionals with credible credentials that validate their experience and capability as the skills gap continues to impact vital areas like cloud computing, data science, and cybersecurity. Given that IT and cybersecurity certifications are widely acknowledged as credible evidence of professional abilities, certified professionals typically have greater bargaining power in the job market. According to Skillsoft’s annual skill and salary survey, the following IT certifications are linked to some of the highest-paid professionals in the IT and cybersecurity industry (Olson, 2022).
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect- Professional (AWS-SAP)
According to Skillsoft’s annual survey, the highest-paying IT certification in 2022 is the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional (not Associate), with an average salary of $168,080.36 annually in North America (Olson, 2022). Solutions architect positions are some of the hottest in the job market. As more and more businesses move their IT operations to the cloud, there is a corresponding increase in the demand for qualified cloud solution providers. These Skilled AWS-Solutions Architect professionals design, deploy and maintain sophisticated cloud environments. Earning the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional credential validates one’s expertise in this field. To qualify for this exam, AWS prefers candidates with two or more years of related work experience and expertise in a scripting language, Windows, Linux, and a variety of AWS services.
There is a $300 fee for the exam, and it takes 180 minutes to complete 75 questions (AWS, 2022b). Therefore, professionals need to take and pass the most current certification exam to obtain official recognition of their expertise (SAP-C01). To better reflect the AWS Well-Architected Framework, AWS will modify the exams in November 2022.
- Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Protecting critical information from persistent cybercriminals remains a top priority for businesses worldwide. ISACA’s Certified Information Systems Manager (CISM) program, which debuted in 2002, is aimed at those with a background in information security and control who aspire to move from team member to management roles. With an average salary of $162,347.07 annually in North America (Olson, 2022), earning the CISM certification demonstrates to employers and colleagues that you have the skills to steer security initiatives and teams. The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) credential from ISACA demonstrates a holder’s mastery in information security governance, program development and management, incident management, and risk management.
To take the exam, professionals need to have worked in the field of information security management for at least five years; waivers of this requirement are only granted for a maximum of two years. The certification exam costs $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-members, and it consists of 150 questions with a time limit of four hours to complete (ISACA, 2022a). As a prerequisite to the exams, candidates must have at least five years of professional experience in the required domains.
- Google Cloud-Professional Cloud Architect
Cloud computing has revolutionized how information technology resources and services are used and managed by accelerating innovation and collaboration. The Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect certification attests to a candidate’s knowledge of cloud computing and ability to create compliant, secure cloud architecture. With this certification, professionals make an average of USD 161371.46 annually in North America (Olson, 2022). This certification proves that the candidate has the skills to oversee projects such as software rollouts, network upgrades, process enhancements, and more. However, professionals are advised to have at least three years of experience in the field before taking the exam, with at least one year spent designing and managing solutions in Google Cloud. The exam costs $200, lasts 120 minutes, has 50 questions, and takes two hours to complete (Google, 2022). Certified professionals must recertify every two years.
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
The CISSP certification is the world’s premier cybersecurity certification (ISC2, 2022a). The CISSP certification has been compared to a master’s degree in IT security because it demonstrates that professionals have what it takes to design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program effectively. With an average annual salary of $158,190.79 in North America, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certificate is intended for people with hands-on experience in the field and is required for career advancement. Obtaining the CISSP credential demonstrates that you have the skills to design, implement and manage a top-notch cybersecurity program (ISC2, 2022a). To be eligible for the CISSP, candidates must pass the exam and have at least five years of cumulative, paid work experience in two or more of the eight domains of the (ISC)2 CISSP Common Body of Knowledge (CBK). The CBK includes eight domains:
- Security and Risk Management,
- Asset Security,
- Security Architecture and Engineering,
- Communication and Network Security,
- Identity and Access Management,
- Security Assessment and Testing,
- Security Operations and Software Development Security.
The exam assesses expertise in these eight security domains. Passing the exam demonstrates that the student possesses the advanced knowledge and technical skills required to design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program effectively. The English CISSP Computerized Adaptive Testing (CAT) exam is now $749, up from $699 in 2021, and includes 125-175 questions, up from 100-150 last year. As a result, ISC2 increased the time required to complete the CISSP CAT exams from 3 to 4 hours. These changes took effect from June 1st, 2022 (ISC2, 2022b). To pass, students must achieve a score of 700 out of 1,000. The certification is valid for three years.
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect -Associate
The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA) credential is widely regarded as evidence of proficiency with AWS technology across various AWS service offerings. With an average annual salary of $155,019.97 in North America (Olson, 2022), this certification shows that you have a solid grasp of the AWS Well-Architected Framework, emphasizing the creation of cost- and performance-optimized solutions. This credential confirms that the holder has extensive experience designing fault-tolerant, cost-effective systems on AWS and is qualified to work as a cloud architect. Professionals who obtain this certification gain credibility and self-assurance in their dealings with stakeholders and customers, boosting their careers and incomes.
To be successful on this exam, students should be well-versed in the AWS Well-Architected Framework. To earn this credential, individuals need to score a passing grade of 720 and above on the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C03) exam. Though not required, AWS suggests a year of practical experience in system design on its platform before taking this exam. The exam costs $150 and has a time limit of 130 minutes to answer 65 questions (AWS, 2022a).
- Project Management Professional (PMP)
Skilled project managers are essential to any business, as the success or failure of a project depends on their leadership. Project managers aid in defining, organizing, and managing projects. With an average annual salary of $148,290.32 in North America, the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI®) is consistently ranked as one of the top qualifications in the domain of project management (Olson, 2022). Those who earn the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential are among the most accomplished in the project management domain. In any context, it demonstrates your capacity to lead projects successfully. Thus, obtaining the Project Management Professional certification indicates that project managers have a mastery of people, processes, and the business environment (PMI, 2022).
For a project manager to earn their PMP credential, they must first fulfill a number of prerequisites and then score well on a rigorous 180-question exam that spans 4 hours. The pricing of the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam via computer-based testing is $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-PMI members (PMI, 2022). Every question on the Project Management Professional exam directly impacts actual project management situations because it was developed by project managers for project managers. To qualify for the PMP exams, candidates must undergo the PMI certification process. Required qualifications include a bachelor’s degree, 36 months of experience as a project manager in the past 8 years, and either 35 hours of formal project management education or CAPM® certification (PMI, 2022). Candidates without a bachelor’s degree but with a high school diploma or associate degree must have 60 months of project leadership experience in the previous 8 years and 36 hours of formal project management education or CAPM® certification (PMI, 2022).
- Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert
Earning a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions credential takes a lot of experience and knowledge. This credential requires passing the AZ-305 exams (previously known as “AZ-303 and AZ-304′′). Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions is a challenging but lucrative cloud certification. According to industry surveys, a Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert can expect to earn an average yearly salary of $142,975.98 in North America (Olson, 2022). To qualify for this certification, professionals should have extensive experience designing cloud and hybrid solutions deployed on Microsoft Azure. To ensure that Azure solutions are secure, scalable, and reliable, these architects coordinate efforts with others across the organization, including stakeholders, developers, and others. Experience with Azure administration and development, DevOps, networking, virtualization, security, governance, and other related areas is a plus, according to Microsoft’s recommendations.
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
Professionals with the CISA credential are well-suited to bridge the gap between a business’s technical, legal, and compliance departments, facilitating the efficient and cost-effective protection of sensitive data and management of risk. With an annual average salary of 142,336.58 in North America (Olson, 2022), obtaining the CISA certification indicates the candidate has acquired the technical skills and knowledge necessary to assess, create, and deploy a comprehensive privacy solution, improving business value, customer insights, and trust within the organization. The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) credential from ISACA verifies knowledge in auditing, risk management, and cybersecurity skills in the following domains;
- Information Systems Auditing Process
- Governance and Management of IT
- Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation
- Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience
- Protection of Information Assets
To be eligible for CISA, you must have 5 years of experience in information systems auditing, control, assurance, or security within the previous 10 years of the application submission date. This experience must have been gained in at least one CISA Job Practice Domain Area. Members of ISACA can take the exam for $575, while non-members must pay $760 (ISACA, 2022b). The exam is 4 hours long and made of 150 multiple-choice questions.
- AWS Certified Big Data Specialty
The holders of this credential are experts in collecting, storing, processing and visualizing data using AWS services. With an average annual salary of $138, 403.51 in North America (Olson, 2022), earning the AWS-certified big data specialty demonstrates your ability to use AWS’s analytics tools to extract actionable insights from data. People with at least two years of experience working with AWS and Big Data are encouraged to pursue the AWS Certified Big Data Specialty certification. By achieving this credential, a data architect demonstrates proficiency in implementing core AWS big data services using best practices, designing and maintaining big data, and automating data analysis. As a prerequisite, AWS advises interested professionals to earn either the Certified Cloud Practitioner or AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate credentials. Five years of relevant work experience in data analytics is also highly recommended. The fee for the exam is $300.
- VMware Certified Professional – Data center virtualization (VCP-DCV)
The VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification validates a professional’s proficiency in deploying, managing, and troubleshooting a vSphere environment. With an average salary of $138,349.17 in North America, individuals who earn this credential are capable of assisting businesses in building a flexible, secure, and adaptable environment for cloud computing. In light of VMware’s continued success in easing migration to cloud environments, enhancing customer satisfaction, and streamlining business processes, this credential remains in great demand. To be qualified to take this exam, candidates must attend at least one of the following courses offered by an authorized provider; (i) specifically: VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V7] (ii) VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale [V7]. VMware also recognizes alternative courses; however, candidates should verify their eligibility before registering for the exam. Candidates should have a formal education and at least six months of hands-on experience with VMware vSphere, the company’s server virtualization platform. To become certified in VMware vSphere 7.x, candidates must pass the professional exam (2V0-21.20), which costs $250 and takes 130 minutes to answer 70 questions.
AWS. (2022a). AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate. AWS. https://aws.amazon.com/certification/certified-solutions-architect-associate/
AWS. (2022b). AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional. AWS. https://aws.amazon.com/certification/certified-solutions-architect-professional/
Google. (2022). Professional Cloud Architect. Google Cloud. https://cloud.google.com/certification/cloud-architect
ISACA. (2022a). Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). ISACA. https://www.isaca.org/credentialing/cism
ISACA. (2022b). Certified Information Systems Auditor CISA. ISACA. https://www.isaca.org/credentialing/cisa
ISC2. (2022a). CISSP – The world’s premier cybersecurity certification. ISC2. https://www.isc2.org/Certifications/CISSP
ISC2. (2022b). CISSP Exam Length Change. ISC2. https://www.isc2.org/notice/Cissp-exam-length
Olson, A. (2022). 15 Top-paying IT certifications of 2022. https://www.skillsoft.com/blog/15-top-paying-it-certifications-of-2022
PMI. (2022). Project Management Professional (PMP)®. Project Management Institute (PMI). https://www.pmi.org/certifications/project-management-pmp