What You Will Pay for Top 5 IT Certifications

The cost of IT certifications keeps rising but understandably. The people obtaining the certifications are demonstrating a value to your company through their dedicated education efforts.

The question is what will this dedication cost you? What can you expect to pay for some of the top IT certifications?

Global Knowledge, which provides business and IT training, has published its list of the Top 15 IT Certifications. Compiled by John Hales, a Global Knowledge VMware, SDN, and SoftLayer instructor, the list is compiled based on the on the findings of the 2015 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted by Global Knowledge and Windows IT Pro in the fall of 2014.

According to Hale, he compiled his list from certifications that met a statistical base of replies. He also excluded certain certifications that have a higher mean salary than those listed but are too exclusive to be considered in a broad list of certifications. Among those are Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX).

What follows are his top 5 IT certifications along with the mean salary for each. (There are a couple of project management certifications that we are going to disregard for the purpose of this article.) As Hale points out in his article, salaries are going to vary depending on where an employee lives, years of experience and other factors. After all, it is a national survey so you can expect regional biases.

1. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC): $119,227. According to Hale, the CRISC certification is designed for IT professionals, project managers, and others whose job it is to identify and manage risks through appropriate Information Systems (IS) controls, covering the entire lifecycle, from design to implementation to ongoing maintenance.

Hale points out this is not an easy certification to obtain. It requires at least three years experience in three of the five areas covered by the certification. The exam is offered twice a year. As he says, “This is not the case of taking a class and getting a certification.”

The CRISC certification is offered by ISACA, an independent, nonprofit, global association, that engages in the development, adoption and use of globally accepted, industry-leading knowledge and practices for information systems.

2. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): $118,348. ISACA also does the certification for CISM. As the title suggests, this is geared towards management. Hale points out, As with CRISC, requirements for CISM certification demand effort and years of planning.” Successful certification requires three years experience as a security manager. He added the number of CISMs, about 24,000 since 2002, are far outweighed by demand.

3. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP): $110,603. According to Hale, the CISSP certification has been around since 1994. It is designed to be vendor-neutral. He adds, “CISSP consists of an exam based around ten different areas in computer security, including risk analysis, cloud computing, security when developing applications, mobile, cryptography, physical security, business continuity and disaster recovery planning, and legal and compliance issues.” It’s obvious this certification is constantly evolving, even though it’s over 20 years old.

4. Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA): $106,181 According to Hale, CISA certification requires at least five years of experience in IS auditing, control, or security in addition to passing an exam that is only offered three times per year. He adds, “It is designed to test the candidate’s ability to manage vulnerabilities, ensure compliance with standards, and propose controls, processes, and updates to a company’s policies to ensure compliance with accepted IT and business standards.”

5. Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA): $99,701 Finally we dip below six figures for a certification. Hale says those who obtain this associate-level certification are typically network design engineers, technicians, or support technicians. The certification requires lower-level certification as well as passing an exam.

By the way, there is one certification, while high paying, that did not make the Top 5 list. It’s only because it is so new. Global Knowledge reports the AWS Certified Solutions Architect certification really has only been around since mid-2013. The firm wasn’t able to garner enough data on it to make its list but it does pay, on average, $114,935. The certification is intended for IT employees in the past who have worked with distributed applications design on the AWS platform. The certification indicates proficiency in designing on AWS, identifying the right AWS services, and estimating costs and cost savings.

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.