15 Top-Paying IT Certifications of 2022

September 29, 2022 | What's Hot | 25 min read

Recruiting and retaining top talent in the IT industry has become increasingly tough amid a rapidly changing labor market and higher competition for skilled, certified professionals.

As the skills gap continues to impact businesses in critical areas like cloud, data science and cybersecurity, organizations seek out those professionals with reputable credentials that validate their experience and capability. In turn, these certified professionals tend to enjoy more leverage in the marketplace because they’ve earned certifications recognized as trustworthy affirmations of their skills.

The certifications listed here are among those in IT that earn professionals the highest salaries reported in the industry. This list is the result of thousands of IT professionals graciously participating in Skillsoft’s annual IT Skills and Salary survey. The survey is distributed to IT professionals worldwide by Skillsoft, technology providers and vendors, certification bodies, and individuals.

The cumulative results are fascinating insights into the value of skills and certifications. This year in the U.S., 2,557 professionals took the survey. That’s how we’ve arrived at this list.

In the coming weeks, Skillsoft will release comprehensive findings in the 2022 IT Skills and Salary Report. Until then, find the 2021 report here.

Below, you’ll find 15 of the highest paying certifications in IT. In this year’s list, you’ll see a trend similar to last year, with continued emphasis on cloud and cybersecurity certifications — likely due to the sustained demand for professionals with these skills.

“This year’s list is notable first by what topics continue to be hot this year – cloud foremost, supplemented by a couple of key certifications in cybersecurity and data,” says Michael Yoo, Customer Market Leader - T&D at Skillsoft. “Not surprising, given how nearly every company in every industry of every size in every geography is relying upon cloud computing to power their technology strategy.”

While the data shows these certifications have higher salaries associated with them, it’s important to remember salaries are the culmination of several factors, including the ability to apply your certified skills at work, job role, continuous professional development, tenure, and hard work.

The list also provides a snapshot of the typical person holding certification for each credential, including the average number of certifications held, the most popular cross-certification, if they hold cybersecurity-related certifications, if they are in management, and their average age. In order for certifications to make the list, they must have had at least 50 responses in the survey. See more on our methodology at the very end of this blog.

#1 AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional

$168,080.36

Throughout the history of our annual research, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (not Professional) has ranked on this list several times, with a few appearances at the very top.

This year, the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional (not Associate) is the highest paying IT certification in 2022, according to the 2,500+ survey respondents.

Solutions architects are among the most in-demand job roles right now. We wrote more about in-demand jobs here. These professionals design, deploy and support often complex cloud infrastructure, and given the need for professionals with these skills, it’s not surprising to see a certification like this landing toward the top of our list.

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional validates an individual’s ability in this area. AWS recommends two or more years of hands-on experience and familiarity with a scripting language, Windows, Linux, and many AWS services. Earning this certification requires professionals pass the current exam (SAP-C01). Changes to the exam are coming in November 2022 to align with the AWS Well-Architected Framework more closely. The exam costs $300 USD.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

See AWS Certification Training

Read also:

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

11

Most popular cross-certification

GCP – Professional Cloud Architect

Earned a certification in the past year

62%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

70%

Work in management

71%

Most commonly held job role

Cloud Architect

Years old

39


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#2 CISM - Certified Information Security Manager

$162,347.07

ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification has made appearances on this list several times, holding the number two rank in 2015. In the years that followed, it’s kept a presence on the top-paying list at varying positions.

Last year, CISM ranked number six but climbed to the second position given the nearly 9% hike in salary reported by these professionals.

CISM sustains its presence this year for good reason. Cybersecurity continues to remain a top priority for organizations who must protect sensitive data from ceaseless threat actors. This certification signals to organizations and industry peers that a professional can lead security teams and efforts effectively.

CISM validates the ability to manage, design and assess an enterprise’s information security. It proves expertise in these domains: information security governance, information security risk management, information security program, and incident management.

To earn this certification, professionals must first have five years of professional work experience in the required domains before they can sit the exam, which costs $575 USD for ISACA members and $760 USD for non-members.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

9

Most popular cross-certification

CISSP

Earned a certification in the past year

65%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

100%

Work in management

66%

Most commonly held job role

Security Manager or Director

Years old

45


#3 Google Cloud - Professional Cloud Architect

$161,371.46

Ranking among the top again this year is the Google Cloud - Professional Cloud Architect, a credential that validates a professional’s ability to design cloud architecture with compliance and security in mind.

This credential also validates the ability to manage implementation, provision infrastructure, improve processes and more. However, to earn this certification, it’s recommended professionals have at least three years of experience before sitting the exam, with at least one designing and managing solutions in Google Cloud.

There is a $200 exam fee, and professionals have two hours to complete the exam. The certification lasts for two years before professionals must recertify.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prep for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

8

Most popular cross-certification

AWS Certified Solutions Architect

Earned a certification in the past year

70%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

50%

Work in management

66%

Most commonly held job role

Cloud Architect

Years old

39

#4 CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional

$158,190.79

Earning the CISSP certification has been compared to earning a master’s degree in IT security, as it proves professionals have what it takes to effectively design, implement, and manage a cybersecurity program.

This certification ranks slightly higher this year — it was number five last year — with a nearly 5% gain in salary.

The CISSP exam is based around eight domains in information security:

  1. Security and Risk Management
  2. Asset Security
  3. Security Architecture and Engineering
  4. Communication and Network Security
  5. Identity and Access Management (IAM)
  6. Security Assessment and Testing
  7. Security Operations
  8. Software Development Security

To achieve this certification, candidates also need at least five years of paid, relevant work experience in two or more of the CISSP domains.

If you lack the necessary experience, you can still take the certification exam and become an Associate of (ISC)2 if you pass. Then, you’ll have up to six years to obtain the required experience to earn your CISSP. The exam is $749 USD (up from $699 last year).

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

9

Most popular cross-certification

Security+

Earned a certification in the past year

67%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

100%

Work in management

53%

Most commonly held job role

Security Manager or Director

Years old

46

#5 AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

$155,019.97

The AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate serves as a prerequisite for the professional-level certification currently in the number one position of this list.

This certification serves as a credible validation of cloud architects with hands-on professional experience designing fault-tolerant, cost-efficient systems on AWS.

Those who hope to sit this exam should have strong familiarity with the AWS Well-Architected Framework, and it helps to know the basics of programming, though AWS says deep coding experience isn’t required.

To achieve this certification, candidates must pass the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA-C03) exam. As mentioned, AWS recommends a year of hands-on experience designing systems on its platform before taking this exam.

The exam costs $150 USD. Professionals have 130 minutes to complete the 65-question exam.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

Read also:

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

9

Most popular cross-certification

GCP – Associate Cloud Engineer

Earned a certification in the past year

70%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

52%

Work in management

49%

Most commonly held job role

Cloud Architect

Years old

39

#6 AWS Certified Security – Specialty

$149,740.74

The AWS Certified Security – Specialty certification validates the ability to secure data in the AWS cloud and successfully navigate complex security challenges.

AWS recommends professionals who want to pursue this certification have at least five years of experience in an IT security role, with two years of working knowledge securing AWS workloads. What’s more, those professionals should have strong familiarity with AWS security services, logging and monitoring strategies, cloud security threat models, security operations and risks, and more.

To earn the certification, professionals must pass the exam. The SCS-C01 exam costs $300 USD. It’s 65 questions and professionals have 170 minutes to complete it.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

See also:

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

12

Most popular cross-certification

Azure Fundamentals

Earned a certification in the past year

61%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

85%

Work in management

72%

Most commonly held job role

Security Architect

Years old

38

#7 PMP: Project Management Professional

$148,290.32

Projects live and die by how they’re managed, which is why skilled project managers are critical to any organization. They help define, organize, and manage projects from start to finish.

The Project Management Institute (PMI®) Project Management Professional (PMP) is one of the most highly regarded certifications of its kind, and it continues to show up on this list year after year.

It provides employers and customers with a level of assurance that a project manager has both experience and knowledge.

To earn the PMP, candidates must meet the Institute’s requirements. Candidates must have a four-year degree, three years of experience leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM® Certification. Or, candidates must have a high school diploma, five years of experience, and 35 hours of project management education/training or hold the CAPM® Certification.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

7

Most popular cross-certification

ITIL Foundation

Earned a certification in the past year

54%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

55%

Work in management

67%

Most commonly held job role

Project Manager

Years old

47

#8 Nutanix Certified Professional – Multicloud Infrastructure (NCP-MCI)

$147,169.68

The Nutanix Certified Professional – Multicloud Infrastructure (NCP-MCI) certification is designed to recognize a professional’s skills and abilities to deploy, administer, and troubleshoot Nutanix AOS 5.20 in the Enterprise Cloud.

Earning this certification validates a professional’s ability to deploy and administer Nutanix AOS 5.20 nodes, blocks, and clusters. It also proves one can use Prism Element to manage AHV hosts and virtual machines, according to Nutanix.

Before sitting the exam, professionals should familiarize themselves with 12 knowledge objectives laid out by Nutanix:

  1. Understanding Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Concepts
  2. Manage a Nutanix Cluster
  3. Secure a Nutanix Cluster
  4. Configure and Manage Networking
  5. Create and Manage Virtual Machines
  6. Monitor Cluster Health and Alerts
  7. Understand the Nutanix Distributed Storage Fabric
  8. Describe Acropolis Storage Services
  9. Understand Data Resiliency
  10. Implement Data Protection
  11. Understand Prism Central
  12. Conduct Lifecycle Operations

To earn this certification, candidates must pass the exam. It costs $199 USD, spanning 75 questions. Professionals have 120 minutes to complete the exam.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

7

Most popular cross-certification

VCP-DCV – VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization

Earned a certification in the past year

65%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

27%

Work in management

30%

Most commonly held job role

Systems Architect

Years old

40

#9 Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert

$142,975.98

Professionals who plan to pursue this certification should have advanced experience designing cloud and hybrid solutions running on Microsoft Azure.

These architects work collaboratively with others across the business — from stakeholders to developers and beyond — to overcome the complex challenges that stand in the way of secure, scalable, and reliable Azure solutions. Microsoft recommends these professionals have experience in Azure administration and development, DevOps, networking, virtualization, security, governance and more.

The Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification replaces its prerequisite on this year’s list as the nineth highest paying IT certification. Last year, the associate-level certification reportedly earned architects $121,420, ranking twelfth on the 2021 list.

To earn this certification, professionals must achieve a prerequisite certification — like the associate level mentioned earlier — and pass the AZ-305 exam, which costs $165 USD.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

10

Most popular cross-certification

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

Earned a certification in the past year

78%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

64%

Work in management

42%

Most commonly held job role

Cloud Architect

Years old

45

#10 Google Cloud - Cloud Digital Leader

$142,707.86

The Cloud Digital Leader (CDL) certification was released in 2021 as a foundational-level certification that validates a professional’s knowledge of the Google Cloud Platform, its services, and capabilities in supporting an organization’s cloud initiatives. It may also benefit those in a business-facing role, who work collaboratively with technical professionals, or those who work with multiple cloud providers and must understand the services of each.

To earn this certification, professionals must familiarize themselves with these areas:

  • Digital transformation with Google Cloud
  • Infrastructure and application modernization
  • Innovating with data and Google Cloud
  • Google Cloud security and operations

The exam costs $99 and gives professionals 90 minutes to complete the questions. There are no prerequisites for this exam.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Recommended Course:Cloud Digital Leader Training with Google Cloud

See More Google Cloud Certification Training

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

6

Most popular cross-certification

AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

Earned a certification in the past year

75%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

51%

Work in management

59%

Most commonly held job role

Cloud Architect

Years old

39

#11 CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor

$142,336.58

CISA-certified professionals can serve as the conduit between technical, legal and compliance teams and ensure organizations protect privacy and manage risk in an efficient, cost-effective way.

This certification has been around since 1978, making it one of the oldest, and most respected, credentials on this list. For many years, it’s retained a presence on our list but in 2022 it comes with an average salary that’s reportedly 5%+ higher than in 2021.

ISACA’s CISA certification validates audit, risk and cybersecurity skills pertaining to these domains:

  1. Information Systems Auditing Process
  2. Governance and Management of IT
  3. Information Systems Acquisition, Development, and Implementation
  4. Information Systems Operations and Business Resilience
  5. Protection of Information Assets

Earning this certification means you meet the minimum requirements and pass the exam. Like the CISM featured in the number two rank, professionals who pursue this exam must have at least five years of professional auditing experience. The exam costs $575 USD for ISACA members and $760 USD for non-members.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

7

Most popular cross-certification

CISSP

Earned a certification in the past year

41%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

100%

Work in management

60%

Most commonly held job role

Security Manager or Director

Years old

44


#12 AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty

$138,403.51

The AWS Certified Big Data – Specialty certification is for those with at least two years of experience working with AWS and Big Data.

Earning this certification proves a data architect’s ability to:

  • Implement core AWS Big Data services according to best practices
  • Design and maintain Big Data
  • Automate data analysis

AWS recommends professionals who pursue this certification earn the Certified Cloud Practitioner, AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate or another associate-level certification as a prerequisite. It’s also recommended to have at least five years of experience in the data analytics field. The exam costs $300 USD.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Recommended Training: Building Data Lakes on AWS

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

14

Most popular cross-certification

MSCA: BI Reporting (Retired)

Earned a certification in the past year

36%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

91%

Work in management

88%

Most commonly held job role

Data Architect

Years old

32

#13 VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV)

$138,349.17

The VMware Certified Professional – Data Center Virtualization (VCP-DCV) certification validates the skills to implement, manage and troubleshoot a vSphere infrastructure. Those with this certification can help organizations build a flexible, secure environment that improves their use of cloud computing.

This certification continues to rank highly, given VMware’s ability to help organizations transition to digital environments, improve experiences, and streamline operations and workflows.

To earn this certification, VMware requires candidates to attend at least one course offered by an authorized training provider, specifically:

VMware will accept other courses as well, but it’s best to check which qualify before registering for the exam. In addition to attending a class, candidates should have at least six months of experience working with the latest version of vSphere, VMware’s server virtualization software.

To earn this certification, you must pass the exam: Professional VMware vSphere 7.x (2V0-21.20). You’re given 130 minutes to complete a 70-question exam that costs $250 USD.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

See VMware Certification Training

Read also:

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

9

Most popular cross-certification

NCP-MCI-Nutanix Certified Professional – Multicloud Infrastructure (formerly NCP)

Earned a certification in the past year

75%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

31%

Work in management

40%

Most commonly held job role

Systems Architect

Years old

41


#14 AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

$135,612.16

The AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is the starting point for those who plan on pursuing a role as a cloud or solutions architect. This foundational certification validates a professional’s knowledge of the AWS Cloud, its services, and more.

After earning this certification, professionals open many doors to associate, professional and specialty-level certifications. For example, someone starting out may pursue this certification, but then go onto earn two others featured higher on this list: the AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and Professional. See what an AWS certification progression can look like here.

AWS recommends professionals have at least six months of experience with the platform before sitting the CLF-C01 exam, which costs $100 USD. Professionals have 90 minutes to complete the exam.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Recommended Course:AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

7

Most popular cross-certification

Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

Earned a certification in the past year

76%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

58%

Work in management

42%

Most commonly held job role

Solutions Architect

Years old

42

#15 CCNP Enterprise

$133,568.33

The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Enterprise is an advanced certification that requires deep knowledge and understanding of the Cisco technology used in today’s complex networks.

This certification is designed for network engineers and administrators who collaborate with specialists on advanced security, voice, wireless and video solutions.

To earn a CCNP Enterprise certification, candidates must pass two exams — a core exam and a concentration exam of your choice, which Cisco says allows you to personalize your focus as a networking professional.

The core exam covers enterprise infrastructure including dual-stack (IPv4 and IPv6) architecture, virtualization, infrastructure, network assurance, security, and automation. Concentration exams test professionals on topics like network design, SD-WAN, and more.

While Cisco does not have formal requirements for those who wish to pursue this certification, it does say that most have three to five years of hands-on professional experience.

Professional-level exams — including those for CCNP certifications — cost $400 USD for the core exam and another $300 USD for the concentration exam.

TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Learn More About This Certification

Prepare for the exam with our free guide.

GET THE GUIDE

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Number of certifications

8

Most popular cross-certification

Security+

Earned a certification in the past year

58%

Earned a cybersecurity certification

48%

Work in management

18%

Most commonly held job role

Network Engineer

Years old

44

Certifications that Just Missed the Cut

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) by ISACA

This year, there wasn’t enough data to featured CRISC formally on the U.S. list, but including both the U.S. and Canada, those professionals together reported an average of $167,145 in 2022. As with many from ISACA, this certification has a long history featured on this list for the high salaries they command but also the credibility they lend to security professionals.

Learn More About This Certification

Google Cloud – Professional Data Engineer

The Professional Data Engineer was the highest paying certification on this list in 2021 with a reported average salary of $171,749. Earning this certification requires several years of professional experience, some of which should be with Google Cloud specifically. A Data Engineer must know how to build and management data processing systems.

Learn More About This Certification

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) by EC-Council

A respected credential, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) teaches professionals about ethical hacking, attack vectors and more, but does so in a way that provides hands-on instruction to reinforce concepts and build valuable skills. While the certification did not have enough responses to make the formal list, those who reported having this certification made on average $139,539.

Learn More About This Certification

Microsoft Certified: Azure Data Fundamentals

Close to making the list this year was Microsoft’s entry-level certification, Azure Data Fundamentals. The average salary reported was $133,088, placing it just below Cisco’s CCNP Enterprise. This certification validates a professional’s knowledge for core data concepts and working with data in Azure.

Learn More About This Certification

More findings from the It Skills and Salary Survey

This list is compiled of a subset of data from the 2022 IT Skills and Salary survey. Globally, the total response count exceeds 7,900 responses. This data focuses only on those respondents whose residence is in the United States.

  • The average salary of the 2,557 U.S. respondents was $110,765. Google Cloud’s Associate Cloud Engineer was the most commonly held certification, followed by CompTIA’s A+, Security+ and Network+. 62% earned a certification in the last year, hold four certifications, and manage a team (58%).
  • Almost half (45%) of IT professionals say the nature of their training in the last 12 months was certification focused, while the main reason for training was to prepare their organizations for a new technology, product migration or deployment. Despite this, 61% say their management doesn’t see the value in training — which is cited as the leading inhibitor to training.

  • 85% of IT leaders in the U.S. say certified professionals add $10,000 or more in economic value to their organizations over non-certified professionals. 21% say it’s more than $30,000. IT leaders cite higher productivity as the leading benefit of certified staff, but also note competitive advantage and turnover reduction.

How we built the List

Our U.S. list of the top-paying certifications is based on survey responses from the Skillsoft 2022 IT Skills and Salary Survey conducted May 2022 to August 2022. The survey asks respondents about their current jobs and experience, certifications and salaries, and more. Respondents encounter multiple choice and multi-select, open-ended, rank choice, and other types of questions while taking the survey.

The survey is distributed to IT professionals around the world by technology providers, certification bodies and Skillsoft, among others. Over 2,500 IT professionals in the U.S. participated.

To qualify for our list, a certification must have at least 50 U.S. survey responses to be considered. Then, we consider relevance, demand, and certification requirements. Salaries are not normalized for cost-of-living or location (e.g., California vs. Montana).