Whether it’s checking e-mail or being responsible for a room full of servers, computers are part of everyday life—and they’re getting more complicated by the day. Of course, this also means plenty of jobs for qualified people, if they’re appropriately certified.
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But what is an IT certification? An IT certification in its most basic form is someone (usually from a vendor like Microsoft or Cisco) saying that a person has enough skills and education to be certified as a professional in that area. It can be accomplished by a skills test, education, or whatever the vendor’s requirements are. Getting the right certifications can mean a nice bump in salary and increased responsibility.
The 2014 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge and Penton came up with what they think are the ten highest-paying certifications for 2014. Keep in mind that this was a nationwide survey; salaries vary by area and experience.
1. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
What used to be the Information Systems Audit and Control Association now goes strictly by ISACA; they offer CRISC certification designed for IT professionals, project managers, and others whose job it is to identify and manage risks all the way through the process from design through setup to maintenance of the system. If it sounds complicated, it is; that’s why people with CRISC certification average $118,253 a year.
People who have this certification usually serve as audit managers, security directors, IT managers or consultants and they’ve all had hands-on experience with IT hardware. These people have to not only pass an exam, but have three years’ experience in a minimum of three areas that the exam covers—and it’s only given twice a year. One class won’t cut it for this certification; it takes years, but only 17,000 people have passed since 2010.
2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
ISACA also created the CISM certification, but this one is geared toward the managers who implement IT and security policy, not the hands-on IT professional. Many people who receive this certification are security directors, managers, consultants and chief compliance officers. The CISM certification is globally recognized, so it means just as much in Berlin as in Silicon Valley.
ISACA requires proof of five years of work experience in the field of information security, with at least three years in the role of information security manager; additional ongoing education is also required. With only about 23,000 earning certification since 2002, it’s no wonder the average salary is $114,844 per year.
Recommended Course: SimpliLearn’s Certified Information Security Management (CISM) Training
3. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
This certification is handled by ISACA too, and it’s been around since 1978. People whose job responsibilities include auditing, monitoring, controlling, and/or assessing IT and/or business systems are who CISA is targeted at, and it tests ability to manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance with and propose controls, processes, and updates to a company’s policies, and ensure compliance with accepted IT and business standards.
To take the exam, candidates must have at least five years of experience in Internet security auditing, control, or security—but the payoff is an average salary of $112,040.
Recommended Course: SimpliLearn’s Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) Training
4. Six Sigma Green Belt
If you’re confused by the name, it’s understandable; Six Sigma’s certification program isn’t IT specific. It’s based on quality control, with a goal of no more than 3.4 defects per million “opportunities” or chances for a defect to occur, measure defects, analyze why the defect happened, and then fix the issue and repeat. Six Sigma teaches you how to improve existing processes and how to implement a system for new processes or major changes.
The certification demonstrates to potential employers that error-free work is important to you. Six Sigma isn’t owned by any one company, but usually the opening certification is Green Belt, followed by Black Belt and Master Black Belt. Professionals who have at least Green Belt status can average $109,165 per year.
Recommended Course: SimpliLearn’s Sigma Six Green Belt Certification Course
5. Project Management Professional (PMP®)
The PMP certification isn’t specifically for IT either, but anyone who achieves this status will be on their way up to bigger and better things. Created by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), it is the most recognized project management certification available and the exam covers five areas relating to the lifecycle of a project: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing.
To be eligible for the exam, applicants need over 35 hours of PMP-related training along with 7,500 hours of project management experience (if they have less than a bachelor’s degree) or 4,500 hours of project management experience with a BA or higher. It takes years of training, but PMP-certified personnel can average $108,525 a year since it’s an impressive addition to the resume.
6. Certified Scrum Master
Yet another odd name pops up in the certification process—but it makes sense once explained. Scrum is a rugby term; it’s how a game is restarted after a minor rules violation or after the ball is no longer in play. Scrum, as it applies to software, refers to a client who has changed their mind midway through the process forcing the team to meet up all over again to fix the problem.
Normally there is only one project manager; however, the Scrum philosophy is that the problem is best solved by a team approach using people from different disciplines to achieve the goal. A Scrum Master protects the team from outside influences and acts as a buffer, but also chairs the meetings and urges people to do better. The duties of a project manager are split up among members of the team. Certification could mean an average yearly income of $107,396 once the needed classes have been taken from a certified Scrum trainer and the exam is passed.
Recommended Course: SimpliLearn’s Certified Scrum Masters Prep Course
7. Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer (CCEE)
Citrix is a company that provides server, application and desktop visualization to over 330,000 organizations, and it offers certification as a CCEE through a number of exams– the Citrix Certified Administrator (CCS) exams for XenApp 6, XenDesktop 5, and XenServer 6, the Citrix Certified Advanced Administrator (CCAA) for XenApp 6, and an engineering exam testing skills in implementing, securing, managing, monitoring, and troubleshooting a complete virtualization solution using Citrix products.
These exams are on their way out; people already certified in them are being prodded to take the exam for Citrix Certified Professional – Apps and Desktops (CCP-AD) which covers just XenDesktop. Still, the exams are available and with an average salary of $104,240 should not be dismissed out of hand.
8. Citrix Certified Administrator (CCA) for Citrix NetScaler
Citrix is revamping their certifications across the board, and the CCA for their Netscaler system is being revised as well; CCA is not available for Netscaler 9, and the company has suggested those with a current certification should upgrade to the new Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N). Those who are already certified can implement, manage, and optimize NetScaler’s networking performance as well as the ability to support app and desktop solutions, and make an average of $103,904 per year.
While the certification process is being changed, Citrix has created a webpage to help people evaluate and decide on which certification they need or want at http://training.citrix.com/cms/index.php/certification/.
9. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Yes, ethical hackers do exist and there’s even an official certification for them. The International Council of E-Commerce Consultants (EC-Council) created CEH certification, and tests a candidate’s abilities to finds holes, weaknesses, flaws and vulnerabilities in a company’s network defenses using the same tools and techniques that hackers employ.
The difference in this case is that CEHs don’t attempt to cause harm or steal files; they find the flaws so companies can fix them. CEHs can make an average of $103,822 a year, but the demand for them is high so that number may go up.
10. ITIL v3 Foundation
In the 1980s, the British government decided to standardize IT management by compiling a set of best practices for aligning the services IT provides to the organization it serves. They called it the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) and it is a paper library; it’s a set of books that cover everything from availability and capacity management to change and incident management as well as application and IT operations management.
AXELOS is the governing body that defines the certification tiers, but they have accredited partners that develop training and certification around that framework. The Foundation certification is the entry-level one and covers the IT lifecycle, concepts and terminology surrounding it. Anyone wanting a higher-level certification must have this level first, so people may have higher certifications and still have listed this certification in the salary survey. The salary number drawn from the survey was $97,682.