10 certifications that bring the big bucks

Whether paid for by your employer, or whether its an investment you’re making yourself in your career, certifications can be the path to career and salary growth. You need to choose wisely though — not all certifications are created equally, and not all will bring the same boost in earning potential and career prospects. The 2014 IT Skills and Salary Survey from Global Knowledge surveyed IT professionals across Canada and the U.S., and includes guidance on which certifications will have the most impact on compensation. 

Office table with chairs.


#10 ITIL v3 Foundation

IT professionals with the ITIL v3 Foundation certification reported a mean salary of $97,682. The Foundation Level is ITIL’s entry level qualification, offering candidates a general awareness “of the key elements, concepts and terminology used in the ITIL Service Lifecycle, including the linkages between Lifecycle stages, the processes used and their contribution to Service Management practices.”

itil-logo


#9 CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker

Respondents with the Certified Ethical Hacker certification cracked the six-figure barrier, reporting  a mean salary of $103,822. Offered by the EC-Council, the CEH certification includes ethical hacking and network security training to help IT security professionals think like a hacker, to better understand their attacks and how they search for vulnerabilities by gaining the skills to carry them out themselves.

CEH


#8 CCA: Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix NetScaler

The first vendor-specific certification to crack the top 10, IT professionals with the Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix NetScaler certification reported a mean salary of $103,904.

However, as of March 2014 Citrix has revamped its certifications, so you’ll now want to try for the Citrix Certified Professional – Networking (CCP-N) designation, which validates the skills and knowledge needed to leverage Citrix NetScaler.

Citrix Certified Administrator for Citrix NetScaler


#7 CCEE: Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer

Not only was Citrix the first vendor to crack the top 10, they were also the only one, with holders of its Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer certification reporting a mean salary of $104,240.

With Citrix’s revamp of its certification program, CCEE would now map to Apps and Desktops, with Citrix Certified Expert – Apps and Desktops (CCE-AD) being the top certification focusing on the design, deployment and management of XenDesktop 7 solutions.

Citrix Certified Enterprise Engineer


#6 Certified Scrum Master

Offered by the Scrum Alliance, holders of the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) certification earned a mean salary of $107,396.

They are also experts in Scrum, an Agile framework for completing complex projects that was originally formalized for software projects, but can be applied to any complex scope of work.

Holders have an understanding of the Scrum framework, including team roles, activities and artifacts.

Certified Scrum Master


#5 PMP: Project Management Professional

Another certification related to managing complex projects, holders of the Project Management Professional designation earned a mean salary of $108,525. Offered by the Project Management Institute, holders of the PMP certification are recognized as having the experience, education and competency needed to lead and direct projects.

It’s intended for experienced project managers looking to solidify their skills.

Project Management Professional


#4 Six Sigma Green Belt

No, this isn’t a martial arts certification. Originally developed by Motorola, Six Sigma is is a set of techniques and tools for business process improvement. The Green Belt is the third-highest available (after Master Black Belt and Black Belt). According to Six Sigma Canada, the primary tasks of a Green Belt include helping to deploy the success of six sigma techniques and leading small-scale improvement projects within their respective areas. Holders reported a mean salary of $109,165.

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#3 CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor

With a mean salary of $112,040, a Certified Information Systems Auditor is certified by ISACA (formerly the Information Systems Audit and Control Association) as an information systems audit professional with the knowledge and expertise to “identify critical issues and customize practices to support trust in and value from information systems.”

Certified Information Systems Auditor


#2  CISM: Certified Information Security Manager

A Certified Information Security Manager reported a mean salary of $114,844.

Another ISACA  certification, holders of the CSM designation are information security managers with at least five years of IT security experience and three years of IT security management work experience.

Areas of training include information risk management and governance as well as managing incidents.

Certified Information Security Manager


#1 CRISC: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control

At the top of the best-paying certifications list, IT professions that were Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control reported a mean salary of $118,253.

Also offered by ISACA, CRISC is described as the ” most current and rigorous assessment available to evaluate the risk management proficiency of IT professionals and other employees within an enterprise or financial institute.”

Holders understand business risk and can implement information security controls to minimize it.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control


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A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.