The 20 Top-Paying IT Certifications Going Into 2024

novembre 14, 2023 | Hot Trends & Stats | 6 min read

Nearly all IT leaders agree that certified staff add value to their organizations, with most saying in excess of $30,000 a year. And when you consider the monetary costs of preparing for and sitting the exam, the payback is quite substantive, especially how those returns show up for the organization.

Most often, leaders notice an uptick in productivity as those employees who earn certifications feel energized and more engaged at work. But certifications make a difference in other ways too.

Shorter resolution times, projects move faster, deployments are smoother, and employee retention edges up as well. This is all according to recent findings from Skillsoft’s annual IT Skills and Salary survey, which has collected data about certifications and their value to individuals and organizations for nearly two decades. The survey also informs a comprehensive report you can find here, with a new volume releasing this December. Subscribe to the blog for updates on its release.

This year, we examined the reported salaries of individuals around the world to find the highest-paying certifications in the IT industry.

This list is the result of thousands of IT professionals graciously participating in the survey, which is distributed to IT professionals worldwide by primarily by Skillsoft, but also its partners like Google Cloud, Microsoft, ISACA, Nutanix, and CompTIA.

The cumulative results are fascinating insights into the value of skills and certifications. This year in the U.S. alone, more than 1,900 professionals took the survey. That’s how we’ve arrived at this specific list. However, this year, we’re also reporting the survey results of those who reside in Europe and the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific and Latin American regions to give a broader view of how certifications are valued around the world.

In this year’s list, you’ll see similar trends to past years. Certifications with a focus on cybersecurity or cloud computing tend to earn IT professionals' higher salaries in part due to the sustained demand for these skills. Cybersecurity, in particular, continues to grow in importance to individuals and organizations as threats become more prevalent and severe — which also helps to drive up salaries for those with skills to combat them.

However, it’s important to remember salaries are the culmination of several factors, including the ability to apply your skills at work, job role, continuous professional development, tenure, and hard work. What’s more, this list also provides a snapshot of the average certification holder, including the average number of certifications held, the most popular cross-certification, if they are in management, and their average age.

As we compile this list, we look for certifications that have at least 50 survey responses — unless noted otherwise — before considering other factors. To see more about how we collected this data and compiled the list, read the methodology at the end of the post.

Let’s dive in.

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#1 Google Cloud – Professional Cloud Architect

Average Annual Salary: $200,960

Google Cloud’s Professional Cloud Architect certification has ranked highly on this in the past, often trading places for the top with others like the Professional Data Engineer certification and comparable credentials from AWS. Last year, it ranked third with an average annual salary of $161,371.

This year, it's the highest-paying certification in the field.

Developments in cloud — particularly the reliance on and maturation of the technology — have led many in the industry to entrust providers like Google with their data. For reasons like these, cloud architects have grown increasingly necessary for organizations of all sizes.

This certification validates the holder's proficiency in crafting, managing, and implementing secure, scalable, and reliable cloud solutions using Google Cloud technologies. It signifies an individual's understanding of Google Cloud's infrastructure and services, enabling them to devise and optimize cloud architectures that are efficient, cost-effective, and resilient.

Google recommends 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 USD exam fee, and professionals have two hours to complete the exam. The certification lasts for two years before professionals must recertify. Testing is done online or from a testing center.

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Average Salary

$200,960

Average number of certifications

9

Earned a certification in the last year

71%

Average age

38

Likely job role

Cloud Architect

Popular cross certification

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

% with cybersecurity certification(s)

47%

% in management

30%

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR GOOGLE CLOUD

#2 Google Cloud – Professional Data Engineer

Average Annual Salary: $193,621

Google Cloud's Professional Data Engineer certification has historically earned IT professionals high salaries, and there are even fewer exceptions to this rule today. Roles like data engineers, scientists and specialists continue to grow in demand — much faster than average in the U.S. — as data and its application become far more critical to how virtually everyone makes decisions.

This certification validates an individual's capability to construct and manage effective data processing systems using the Google Cloud Platform. It affirms their ability to create secure, scalable, and reliable data solutions.

In this way, organizations stand to gain substantially by employing those who've earned this certification, as they bring specialized expertise in handling and analyzing vast datasets. Their skills in developing data processing systems can help organizations enhance operational efficiency, make data-driven decisions, and drive innovation.

To earn this certification, candidates must pass the exam, which has some changes coming Nov. 13, according to Google. The new exam will focus more on changes to Google Cloud's data storing, sharing, and governance, and less on operationalizing machine learning models. The exam costs $200 USD. It's 50 to 60 questions, taken over two hours.

Google does recommend at least three years of professional experience, with at least one working with its platform, before sitting the exam. If passed, you'll have two years before the certification expires.

AVERAGE CERTIFICATION-HOLDER

Average Salary

$193,621

Average number of certifications

9

Earned a certification in the last year

69%

Average age

39

Likely job role

Cloud Architect

Popular cross certification

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate

% with cybersecurity certification(s)

47%

% in management

34%

SEE OUR CERTIFICATION TRAINING FOR GOOGLE CLOUD