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Top five technical certifications by salary

Global Knowledge and TechRepublic look at which IT certifications earn top dollar, as indicated by our 2010 IT Skills and Salary Report.

As the global economy moves out of the Great Recession, technology and high-tech jobs will play a critical role in the recovery. But which skills and certifications can give you an edge on getting the job or promotion you want?

For the third year in a row, Global Knowledge and TechRepublic partnered to create and distribute a comprehensive IT salary survey. From October 19 to November 15, 2009, over 19,529 IT professionals from around the globe (over 17,800 were from the U.S. and Canada) answered questions about their overall job satisfaction, base salary, benefits, bonuses, certifications and more. In March, we released the result of this survey in our 2010 IT Skills and Salary Report.

As part of the report, we asked respondents to indicate which of more than 145 industry certifications they possessed. We then compared those numbers with each individual's salary. Here's a list of the top five technical certifications by average salary:

  1. $99,928 - CISSP (Cert. Info. Sys. Security Professional)
  2. $93,953 - CCDA (Cisco Certified Design Associate)
  3. $91,271 - VMware Certified Professional
  4. $89,864 - CCNP (Cisco Certified Network Professional)
  5. $86,454 - MCSE (MS Certified Systems Engineer)

For a complete breakdown of the top 20 IT certifications by salary and a host of other IT skills and salary information, download the complete 2010 IT Skills and Salary Report.

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

60 comments
y0shi
y0shi

I would be amazed if any of the readers knew someone with the certifications and salaries listed in this article. Certifications identify to potential employers that you took the time to show you have an understanding of the technology tools they are using. Good luck getting your foot in the door without one. Don't forget the other statistics that make up this survey data, including an average of 15 years IT experience and college degree. Also its funded by Global Knowledge, its their job to sell training. What better way to pitch a few thousand dollar training course then to show high salary numbers. However there is a demand for, and large global companies will pay a premium to top end talent which includes a proven track history, certifications, and 15+ years of industry experience. The early 2000's produced three giant employee growth areas ? IT, Healthcare and Mortgage lenders. I have watched entry level desktop support positions drop in salary from an average of $45K to $30K a year with the market saturation. All those entry level workers now have five to ten years under their belt and the salary for Administrators/engineers is lowering as well. The gap between engineer and architect in pay is huge at this point. As for those mortgage lenders, how many are still doing the same work? It's time for IT staff to evolve or die. As another poster wrote "It's not 1999 anymore". On the subject of "paper MCSE"s, a few years ago I had a new manager who was well cert'ed and a MCT teaching MS courses at a local college. One day after six months working together the manager said something and it shocked me, and I realized for the first time since we worked together they said something technically correct. I implemented a lot of projects that the manager failed at or said could not be done. Skip forward to today, that managers is elsewhere making a ridiculous salary and still spinning wheels pointing fingers, and I, I am unemployed and my last job interview was basically "We have a large pool of applicants who can do the job, how low can you go (in wages)".

jorglct
jorglct

These guys are crazy!!! I got A+, Network+,CCNA and MCP I never has salary more of 22k year!! jajaja

PlexusSage
PlexusSage

Familiar headline? How about all the broke sports stars who were once worth hundreds of millions of dollars? (Think: Pippen, Typson, Dykstra, Holyfield, etc.) These certs can be worth much more money than a lot of the malcontents on this board seem to appreciate. My guess is they are stuck at $50k and can't figure out how to get above that whether they have a certificate or not. But, like the lottery winner who is broke within a couple of years, just because you have something of value does not mean you know what to do with it. And to them I say, thank you for freeing up these $100k positions for those of us with the right experience and attitude to get them. By the way, for those who feel the MCSE is entry level or beneath them, try this one http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/master.aspx#tab1 Cheers! Charlie O http://www.plexus-it.com/contactus.php

keith_eves
keith_eves

Working for IBM, we are encouraged to go apply for IBM's inter certification programme. I've always decided against it because I thought the effort wasn't worth it for a certification that is only recognised within IBM. Would the IBM certification be recognised outside of IBM, especially in the UK

RaviBD
RaviBD

Great info very useful

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

Correlation does not imply causation. If you work in IT, your salary is going down, and the competition for jobs is going up. The days of having a rare, respected, and valuable set of skills is over. You will be as respected and valued as the people who replace the fluorescent light bulbs. If you're lucky.

jck
jck

MCSE = $86,500? There are 9 year olds who are MCSEs. And not just 1 or 2. There are scores worldwide. That still blows my mind. The MCSE exams are, from what I have been told, about as hard to pass as a 3rd grade spelling test. As long as you know MS's definitions and can evangelize their lingo and know the basics, you can score enough to pass. Ah well. I screwed up thinking that knowing what you're doing is more important than a piece of paper.

steelejedi4
steelejedi4

I hold CompTIA Network+, Cisco Certified Entry Netwrork Technician, Cisco Certified Network Associate, from one reply to this blog I now the first two would be entry level, where in the grand scheme of things would the CCNA rank. I cannot even get an entry level position with these qualifications as I have no commercial experience.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Pulease.... Who composed these figures? The national institute of certifiers??? MCSE is an entry level cert.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

It's a requirement for entry level jobs.... It's of no value UNLESS you know what to do with it. Or at least it should be, chaps like yourself seem to be arguing differently. Would you say anyone with cert is automatically useful in the job? I aren't a malcontent, I'm bloody good at what I do, and I get paid accordingly. All that is getting up your nose, is I did it without coughing up for certs and a degree. It's as though I cheated somehow isn't it. I could photoshop one if it will make you feel better.... And I'm on more than 50k US as well, thank you very much...

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

And you will be paid as a common slave. But you won't care since minimum wage in U.S. dollars can feed your family of four back in Bangalore.

kmdennis
kmdennis

>>>Correlation does not imply causation.

203T
203T

"Commoditization occurs as a goods or services market loses differentiation across its supply base, often by the diffusion of the intellectual capital necessary to acquire or produce it efficiently. As such, goods that formerly carried premium margins for market participants have become commodities, such as generic pharmaceuticals and silicon chips." - sikipedia Maybe bad for us, certainly good for all other humans. Change careers. Buy low, sell high. Or embrace capitalism and don't complain; after all this is our own doing. IT professionals have been boxing themselves into this corner for all of my getting longish career.

QAonCall
QAonCall

but more importantly, you have a great analogy!

QAonCall
QAonCall

Lied. While the tests are standardized, so are the linux certs and the comptia certs. If you don't have or don't want one, that is fine, but don't denigrate others who pursue this. A degree, a cert or even taking a class to advance and demonstrate one's skills should be a good thing. HR departments being lazy and not going beyond the degree/cert are more of an issue that the guy with the cert. Of particular concern should be that the MCSE cert is retired and the new track (64 technology is MCTIP/MCTS). I personally have done the NT Track, the W2K track and now am doing the 2008 track. I do not work daily building networks, but I do enough to keep my skills up. Additionally I am certified in my professional field, as well as a number of other training and certs. All these things plus my experience garners my salary with clients, not a piece of paper. The certs, much like the paper degree, simply show you put in the effort. In tight job environments HR departments look for reason to narrow the field. You can change your circumstance, but not theirs. MHO BTW, if you want to be angry about an item on the list, be angry at CISSP. It is hardly a technical cert. It is more commonly a management cert (it certifies knowledge of fire extinguisher usage, physical security) as well as encryption/certificate types and usage. Yoou would not hire a CISSP to build a secure network, but you might consult one about technology to use (best practices).

bulldurn
bulldurn

I know people that found test on the Internet and took the CCNA, MCSE, etc and passed. When it comes time to put that knowledge to work they don't have a clue. Certs are supposed to show knowledge but put together with doing the work; that shows you know. Paper certs...good; working knowledge..better; both together...the best.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

...wouldn't even buy you a grande latte at Starbucks. The fact that someone with zero experience in a field can get a certification really cheapens the value of said certification.

LouCed
LouCed

Did you get a degree? Are you still in school? If so, try to find an internship. Second, doing volunteer work will help you loads. Go to churches, after school programs, etc. Lastly, try to find a job in a help desk. If you are young, it's the route. OTOH, good luck finding one, as most of those positions are in India/far east.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

They aren't being paid because they have the certs, but because of their ability to use what they learned gaining them. Many moons ago certs and or degree would give you a start because not that many people had them. No longer the case, so HR ask for even more simply to cut down a list of applicants. It's simply abundance. You either need to get lucky, or to get something you can describe as experience. Voluntary work, hire yourself out as a consultant to small businesses, answer technical questions on here even. The other way is leverage through contacts or other skills and experience. Domain knowledge. e.g retail, banking, manufacturing. Get yourself in then go sideways. I got my start through doing OU courses while being a data entry clerk. Not a qualification to my name still. Mind you that was a heck of a long time ago..... It's not entry level in technical terms but as in the job market. These things are becoming a minimum, so you need something more. Best of luck, the market is a git at the moment. Despite nearly 25 years experience in the job, one set of clowns asked me what 'O' levels I have....

jwcarlisle
jwcarlisle

That does not say anything about how long they had the Job, or other skills they may have.... I'm making 90K/yr, and I have my MCSE too... but I don't use it that much at work... *Laugh*

jonrosen
jonrosen

Must Consult Someone Experienced Must Consult Someone Else I've known quite a few people with MCSE's, hasn't gotten them squat.

soctuvan
soctuvan

Try even making 30k good luck. Once again a ground level cert.

GSG
GSG

This is supposed to be an average, but is adjusted by Cost of Living? For example, someone making $50k where I live is doing well, but in New York City, you couldn't afford a studio apartment on that amount! They should have taken the amount for each person who supplied their salary, and adjusted it by the Cost of Living at their location, then computed the average salary. Then, provide a link to the Cost of Living table, so that the reader could then add that Cost of Living adjustment back to compare for their location.

dfa19
dfa19

Hardly entry level, more like mid level cert. Entry level would be A+ and network + .

PlexusSage
PlexusSage

I might agree with you if it weren't for 1. A state-side, Indian-owned company gave me my first job in IT 2. Several of my clients are Indian 3. They are easy to work with 4. They are smart, competent and hard working without a sense of entitlement 5. They make great bosses (mostly) 6. They make great customers (mostly) 7. They don't stand in front Home Depot crowding my pickup when I pull in the parking lot 8. The don't make up 25% of the prison population 9. They don't form gangs and terrorize the community 10. They don't overburden our public programs like schools and healthcare

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

There are people who can and people who can't. The two don't get confused for long...

todd
todd

It is not retired nor will it be. The MCSE composes of 7 tests. Only the exams retire, the certification does not. The rest of your response is pretty correct.

PlexusSage
PlexusSage

I got my NT MCSE as a junior admin and having passed the first test, along with a Bacelor's degree, got my foot in the door. Ever since I have noticed that the people who put down certifications and degrees are those that don't have them.

kama410
kama410

possessed of the capacity to be trained to do the job, not that you know how to do the job. This from a partner at Ernst & Young when I worked there. Great guy. Very down-to-earth, but also very subtle when he wanted to be.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

Stay far away... Once you get in help desk, it's hard to get out. I would advise all those who are new to IT to go the PC technician route where you actually touch hardware and software.

jck
jck

I am coming up within a few years of being 20 years out of university. I fill out a job application, and they still want to know what my college GPA was. If I can do the work, does it really matter if I had a 4.0 or 2.2? I got the degree. I did the work. I've seen 4.0 GPA people who were lost when they got in an office. They were great at following steps and repeating process, but couldn't take the knowledge and apply it outside of the example or modify it to fit a situation. Ah well.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The implication of the post was that MCSE = 90k role. So my point was your point. So thanks for making it, though admittedly in a somewhat confusing manner....

Shellz937
Shellz937

The only thing an A+ gets you is an entry level tech job, and a crap ton of contract jobs. It's nice to have but you need to get more then just an A+ these days.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

a degree and two years experience and only has one head, to get junior gopher roles for 18k (GBP) in the UK Entry level in the job market....

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

in full time IT, and thirty-three since I first got near a computer.. My point which may have been more lucid in an earlier post was that certs and or degrees don't turn those who can't into those who can. They make those who can better if they get a chnace to apply the knowledge and cost those who can't money. When I started computing was only just becoming a mainstream subject, certs were non existent. You had to self teach, and only those who were interested and capable did. The trend as in employing those who weren't and couldn't because they were cheaper is merely a cause of much hilarity for me. Like watching an idiot you don't ike flatten their thumb with a hammer. :D

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

"I see no loss of differentiation " Then either you aren't paying attention, or you haven't been working in IT long enough to see the trend.

PlexusSage
PlexusSage

Our director of technology showed up at the data center late one night to help us relocate some servers. He also brought popsicles, his 10-year old daughter and I think there might have een been a skateboard, too. He dropped a server and got the patche cables kinda sticky. So much for leading by example.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Generally they are very good techs and crap managers. Or just crap at both. The certs are never useless. You can learn useful things studying for them. They will help you make the cut to get past the HR numpties. I bumped in to programming for the first time back in 76 while at school. I didn't start in IT until 87, but I made it there eventually, skill will out, always. Learn and do, people who can don't get spotted as easily as those who can't, but it does happen.

PlexusSage
PlexusSage

Don't forget the hyperinflated salaries of the 1999 dot-com era. Dot-com interviewer: "Tell me about your experience with Netscapoe Server and Oracle 8i on Solaris." Interviewee: "Um, I've heard of 'em" Dot-com interviewer: "Great! When can you start!? Up until recently I would say, "Well, it's not 1999 anymore." with regard to high salaries, lack of vendor swag, etc., but realize it sounds kinda dated and newbies have no clue what I am talking about. Charlie O http://www.plexus-it.com/contactus.php

davidpierce89
davidpierce89

My Supervisor thinks the best way to do patch management is manually visiting each PC in a company of 400 + computers at 4 different sites, thinks there is nothing wrong with using the vender default passwords (Blank) on all our workstations, reboots servers in the middle of the day & Unplugs network gear not knowing what is attached to it! (Someone will complain if they lose their internet, right?)? The only ones who notice at my company are his subordinates, management turns a blind eye. All I can do is study for a cert that some people think is useless! I?ve been playing with computers since I was in the 6th grade. I am passionate about what I do, it upsets me that people like that him are tolerated. And he couldn?t troubleshoot his way out of a wet paper bag!

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Was the big influx. A degree in advanced flower arranging, and an MCSE. Straight into the job designing enterprise applications. Did they get found out or what? :p I managed to cushion the pay drop after (Y2K & the .com flop) running around clearing up after those muppets. They are about and they do depress the market somewhat, but they aren't that big a problem in the UK. Even if they get in, they don't last long. Cheap foreign talent, outsourcing, and the fiscal crisis have had a bigger impact.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

Back when Y2K was a big deal, companies paid ridiculous salaries based on a scare created by the IT market. Now the market's flooded with overpaid hacks and IT's chickens have come home to roost. Companies have now become resentful and IT wages are dropping as a result and working conditions are becoming horrible.

QAonCall
QAonCall

It was meant to convey what you correctly stated. Thanks for setting the record...

fundy
fundy

I have several under my belt, all of them have their pros/cons but I only ever hear griping from those who don't have or want them. There will never be an all encompassing IT cert that proves real skill across the entire IT arena. Besides, a five minute conversation with a potential employee does more to back up claims of knowledge than a list of certs.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I've noticed far too many with either or both, who were are and always will be useless. Given they are more "qualified" that I, how can that be? There are those who can and those who can't. Some of both have paper, so it's not a meaningful factor. PS did you get 90k as a junior admin? :(

kama410
kama410

If you're on a phone you're doomed. Use it as leverage to get in somewhere you are going to be going to people's desks (in an office setting, obviously) and fixing things. It can be a useful stepping stone, but staying in a phone-in help desk position is going to take you exactly nowhere. If you are going to people's desks in an office you are moving towards a network administrator's position. Sadly, no one told me this when I was in school. Coding was my true love. Unfortunately, I couldn't afford to start over on my pay scale and take a software tester position. *sigh* It's like meeting your 'soul-mate' after you're already married.

RPip
RPip

Now he tells me! 30+ years with the same company, the last 20 have been on the help desk in one form or another. And to think I fought to get this job. I have job security with minimal certs, but no place to go without starting over.

LouCed
LouCed

The above was not my experience, but maybe things have changed since I was last there. The PC techs I have worked with were folks that have sat in their workbench for many a year, and was considered (at the corporations I worked) as a dead end job.

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

...I once lost out on a job because of an the inane GPA requirement. I had 5 years experience under my belt along with multiple certs. Turns out the CEO of the company was a college professor. The company made Math Software and I guess he wanted to brag in his marketing material that 100% of his staff had at least a GPA of a certain amount.

jck
jck

Well, I have considered going back to school and getting an MBA. I figure if the piece of paper means that much, I can go get it in 2-3 years and then with almost 20 post-degree years of experience be assured to get a managing job. Of course, I'm not real big on becoming management. If I'm going to have "power", I want total say-so. Otherwise, it's not more than a title with little-to-no authority to make things work well.

aandruli
aandruli

I have had similar experiences. Back when I was interviewing, I was asked if I had a degree in network engineering. I replied that I had graduated and was building networks before there was ever such a degree. His reply -- "So that means no?"

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