Countless paths lead people to careers in IT; no surprise since the impressive salary that can be attached to a career in the industry is no small incentive to pursue the trade. IT offers good salaries even in otherwise difficult economic times, and it’s a well-established fact that certification is a differentiator for employers in the crowded but booming IT job market. In the world of certification, CompTIA is a name that carries a lot of heft. Just how well CompTIA certifications play with employers is something that Certification Magazine’s “Annual Salary Survey” illustrates with hard data. The numbers show that a CompTIA certification or two under your belt can give a boost not just to your skills, but also your paycheck.
This year, Certification Magazine, which revived its print presence in 2014 after going online-only in 2008, released its second annual salary survey since the relaunch. The survey polled more than 18,000 IT professionals and calculated the average salary reported for holders of each certification. The survey aims to paint as inclusive a picture as possible of the salaries being paid in the field; according to Cody Clark, managing editor of Certification Magazine.
“The salary survey historically has been pretty democratic, and we’ve kept it open to participation by certified professionals from every IT discipline,” Clark said. “Beyond verifying that visitors to the survey work in IT and have at least one active certification, we don’t attempt to screen people. We want to hear from as many sources as possible.”
In the final analysis, five of CompTIA’s certifications numbered among the 75 most popular certifications to get in the industry. The average salaries for holders of those certifications were reported as follows:
- CompTIA A+: $79,390
- CompTIA Network+: $90,280
- CompTIA Security+: $93,990
- CompTIA Server+: $73,140
- CompTIA Linux+: $72,650
Clark put the average reported salary of A+ holders in 2014 in context.
“A+ and other foundational certifications do get a bit of an upward bump from the fact that many people who hold them have gone on to earn higher-level certs that have more power to increase earning potential,” Clark said.
So while you probably aren’t going to hit $80,000 your first year out in the field, a big chunk of CompTIA A+ certification holders go on to earn higher-level certifications – and make more money –than they do when holding A+ alone.
Those higher-level CompTIA certifications appear to be gaining value year-to-year as well, given the survey’s report that the average salary of a holder of a CompTIA Security+ certification got a 5 percent bump from $89,440 in 2013 to $93,990 in 2014.
Whatever your current role, this year’s survey is a wellspring of evidence that certification enables people to move up the professional ladder.
For instance, more than 61 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing a raise in 2014 and 20 percent of those who received a raise reported that it was more than 10 percent. About 39 percent received a raise within a year after their most recent certification and about 25 percent received a promotion in the first year after getting their certification. Few are chalking up their post-cert success to coincidence, as 68 percent agreed or strongly agreed that certification has increased demand for their skills.
With the data offering such a strong endorsement for pursuing certification, you may be wondering about the best direction to take your skills. Clark gave some insights into what specific areas are trending for certification.
“We did do some polling about people’s immediate future plans for certification and saw evidence of some common trends from that,” Clark said. “There’s a lot of interest in data certifications, Linux certifications, ITIL, networking and information security.”
But his overall assessment, rooted in research and reportage across the industry, indicates that one thing is clear—wherever in IT you think you’d fit the best, by building your skills, you can’t go wrong.
“Almost every IT discipline needs more skilled workers,” Clark said.
Matthew Stern is a freelance writer based in Chicago who covers information technology, retail and various other topics and industries.