Top 11 IT certifications that pay the big bucks in 2018

IT certifications that pay the big bucks in 2018


IT skills are hot. The market can’t hire certified IT pros fast enough and the demand is projected to grow in the near future right around the world. But when it comes to compensation, not all IT skills are created equal. Some certifications demand top dollar, while others are considered a dime a dozen. Thanks to the 11th annual Global Knowledge survey, 2018 IT Skills and Salary Report, we can tell you where to work hard so you can be rewarded with the cash you need to play hard. Here, we’ll focus on the certification categories that command the highest salaries in North America.

When you’re done, visit our Salary Calculator tool to see what you can earn.

Amazon Web Services – Average $113,261 USD


Certifications in AWS brought in the highest salary in North America. There were 373 AWS certified professionals out of the 6,366 IT pros surveyed by Global Knowledge. AWS certifications include Cloud Practitioner, Solutions Architect, Developer, SysOps Administrator, DevOps Engineer, Big Data, Advanced Networking, and Security. Certifications are classified as being either at the associate level or speciality level. The good news for those not yet AWS certified is the cloud provider has exhaustive online resources to complete the training and exams all from the comfort of your home.

The Open Group TOGAF 9 – Average $112,260

TOGAF 9 certifications

The Open Group Architecture Framework is used for enterprise architecture that provides the foundation for governing all IT and takes a high-level approach to design of information systems. As the modern approach to enterprise IT demands that IT solutions match the needs of the business in as lean a manner as possible, architecture is being recognized as a valuable discipline. Since this is an open system and an industry standard, businesses avoid being locked-in to a propriety framework that might be championed by a private consultant firm. To study for the exam, you’ll want to buy this package of two books authored by The Open Group.

Sun – Average $109,076

Java certified

Seeing Sun rank highly in this list might cause some to do a double-take, but since Oracle Corp. acquired Sun in 2010, the Sun Certified Programmer status is the starter pathway to proving Java mastery. Java is an increasingly popular programming language. Passing that exam requires correctly answering multiple choice questions and completing some basic programming exercises. The Java website offers a Career Acceleration Package that provides everything you’d need to prepare for this certification, including an exam voucher.

Governance (CGEIT or COBIT) – Average $108,297

Following the trend of big-picture planning being valued in the enterprise, governance certifications such as Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies (COBIT) or Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT) are raking in the dough. COBIT not only provides the process for building an IT architecture, but a maturity model to serve as a guideline for planning. The materials of these programs also provide best practices for solving business problems like handling sensitive data in a secure way.

Security and privacy – Average $101,083

CISSP domains

Six of the top 20 certifications in the Global Knowledge study were security-related. Ranking most highly are Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC). Being security certified was also very common among IT professionals, reflecting that the job now requires some exposure to cyber security, and the increasing depth of the field itself, requiring specialization into different aspects.

Cloud (eg. Cloud Credential Council) – $103,182

Cloud solutions architect certification

As mentioned, AWS certifications command top dollar, but other varieties of cloud certification can also help fatten your wallet. The Cloud Credential Council is a vendor-neutral program that was first launched in 2010 and offers foundations and role-based advanced level programs. Starting here can be a good prerequisite to continue on to vendor-specific certifications that increasing earning potential further, such as Architecting Microsoft Azure Solutions. With the cloud in the future of just aboug every enterprise, cloud professionals are in high-demand. – Average $100,412


The world’s most-used CRM has grown its platform to include myriad enterprise software solutions and the company has invested in drawing in developers. Certifications are available for administrators, app builders, architects, consultants, developers, marketers, Pardot experts, and specialists. The online Trailhead education program makes learning Salesforce easy, with modules divided into chunks that can be completed just minutes at a time and offering practical exercises as well. The cute cartoon wilderness theme helps create an approachable facade.

Juniper – Average $100,171

The enterprise networking firm caters to the world’s top 100 service providers and many large enterprises in the private and public sector. To help support its customers, Juniper offers certifications at the Associate, Specialist, Professional, and Expert level. Its program is divided into tracks depending on career path and network engineers can choose automation and DevOps, cloud, data centre, design, enterprise routing and switching, Junos Security, or service provider routing and switching. The Juniper Network Certification Program online portal has everything you need to train, certify, and maintain certification. There’s also a mobile learning platform, Junos Genius, available as an app download on iOS or Android.

Internet / Web development (e.g. CIW JavaScript Specialist) – Average $98,910

javascript code

With JavaScript such an important language for advanced web app functionality, it’s no surprise this certification is in demand. This certification enables developers to design client-side, platform-independent web solutions. JavaScript can be used for interactivity, validate forms, animate images, create cookies, alter HTML on the fly, and communicate with databases. The course was updated in January to match the current JavaScript standard.

Project management (e.g. Agile, PMP, Scrum) – Average $97,745

Global Knowledge expects PMP to remain one of the most important professional certifications. Its importance is because of the need to have a repeatable, scalable framework for running projects in an enterprise. It also teaches skills like leadership and strategic contribution to a larger organization, and it requires continuous learning and skills updating which is a quality valued by employers. The PMP exam was updated earlier this year to PMBOKv6 and Global Knowledge offers a webinar on the changes.

IBM – Average $97,517

Big Blue continues to pull a lot of weight in the halls of enterprise IT. The IBM Professional Certification Program offers role-oriented training at specific levels of competence. The program has a wide range of certifications available. Some notable inclusions are the IBM certified solution advisor – cloud reference architecture V5, which teaches the underlying concepts of cloud computing and IBM Cloud offerings. The DevOps V1 certification is for pros capable of implementing DevOps processes for clients. And the certified application developer – Watson V3 masters the IBM Watson services on Bluemix and Watson Developer Cloud. IBM’s certification portal is your starting point here.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Former editorial director of IT World Canada. Current research director at Info-Tech

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