Top-Paying IT Certifications: These Certs Could Make You Six Figures

by Debra B. McCraw | Mar 15, 2019

A man holds and flips through hundred dollar billsOn average, IT pros earn 44 percent more than people working in other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And if you work in IT, you may have heard that a combination of skills, certifications and experience can help you land those lucrative positions. But which IT certifications are so in demand that employers will pay top dollar for the people who hold them? Global Knowledge has the answers in its 15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2019 list. Spoiler alert: Two are from CompTIA.

Global Knowledge’s Top-Paying Certifications

  1. Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect – $139,529
  2. Project Management Professional (PMP) – $135,798
  3. Certified ScrumMaster – $135,441
  4. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associates – $132,840
  5. AWS Certified Developer – Associate – $130,369
  6. Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Server Infrastructure – $121,288
  7. ITIL Foundation – $120,566
  8. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) – $118,412
  9. Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) – $117,395
  10. Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) – $116,900
  11. Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) – $116,306
  12. Citrix Certified Associate – Virtualization (CCA-V) – $113,442
  13. CompTIA Security+ – $110,321
  14. CompTIA Network+ – $107,143
  15. Cisco Certified Networking Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching – $106,957

Salaries based on self-reporting from IT pros responding to Global Knowledge’s 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report survey. Certifications must be included in at least 100 responses to qualify for the list.

Foundational Knowledge for a Lucrative IT Career

Three organizations – CompTIA, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and ISACA – each claimed two spots on the list. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate and AWS Certified Developer – Associate are vendor-specific and cover skills related to using AWS. Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) from ISACA dive deep into security and risk management, validating the skills of experts with years of experience.

But CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Security+ are both vendor neutral – meaning the skills covered can be applied to any products and systems – and they can be taken early in your IT career. When paired together, the certifications lay the foundation for a successful IT career by covering the skills you need to build, maintain, troubleshoot and secure computer networks. In fact, combined with CompTIA A+, they make up the CompTIA Secure Infrastructure Specialist stackable certification.  

IT pros who get CompTIA A+, Network+ and Security+ move up the ranks in computer networking, cybersecurity, cloud computing and more. The skills, experience and certifications they gain early in their careers set them up for success – and six-figure salaries, according to Global Knowledge.

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CompTIA Network+

CompTIA Network+ helps you develop a solid foundation of computer networking and IT infrastructure skills. It covers the following tasks related to jobs like network support specialist, junior network administrator, systems engineer and network analyst:

  • Design and implement functional networks
  • Configure, manage and maintain essential network devices
  • Use devices such as switches and routers to segment network traffic and create resilient networks
  • Identify benefits and drawbacks of existing network configurations
  • Implement network security, standards and protocols
  • Troubleshoot network problems
  • Support the creation of virtualized networks

CompTIA Network+ is recommended for IT pros who have CompTIA +A or the equivalent experience plus 9 to 12 months of computer networking experience.

Everything in IT is built off of networking concepts, so starting with the basics and earning CompTIA Network+ proves you have the knowledge and understanding of networks that will help you succeed in areas like cloud computing, cybersecurity and more.

CompTIA Security+

CompTIA Security+ covers baseline cybersecurity skills, including the following, and prepares you for a cybersecurity career:

  • Install, configure and deploy network components, identity and access services, management controls and wireless security settings
  • Assess and troubleshoot issues to support organizational security
  • Implement secure network architecture concepts, systems design and public key infrastructure
  • Detect various types of compromise
  • Understand penetration testing and vulnerability scanning concepts
  • Implement and summarize risk management best practices and the business impact

Cybersecurity jobs often require several years of experience in roles such as technical support and systems or network administration. Getting CompTIA Security+ while working in these roles will not only reinforce and validate the experience you’re gaining in your job, but also prove to employers you have a the foundational knowledge needed to move up the cybersecurity ladder.

CompTIA Certifications Lead to a Lucrative IT Career

It’s clear from the Global Knowledge rankings that CompTIA certifications can lead to IT success. With skills, CompTIA certifications and experience, you can grow in your IT career and become a computer network architect, cybersecurity engineer, cloud architect or whatever high-paying, in-demand IT job that your heart desires.

Download the exam objectives for CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Security+ to learn more.

32 Comments

  • Vernon Beckstrom

    Tuesday, March 19, 2019

    But you’re not going to make that much nor get hired without experience. I have an A+ working toward Network+ and all the jobs require experience which I do not have.

  • Josh

    Tuesday, March 19, 2019

    Where are these numbers coming from? $120k for ITIl... Sec+ and entry level for 110k I don't believe it.

  • Tuesday, March 19, 2019

    Hi, Vernon and Josh! Thanks for your comments. You are correct that you need certs plus experience plus skills to succeed in IT and that these are not entry-level salaries. The rankings and salaries come from Global Knowledge's 2019 IT Skills and Salary Survey, where IT pros self-report their positions, salaries, certifications and more. The point is that having core skill certifications, like CompTIA Network+, will set you up for a lucrative IT career. It does not mean that you will make $120,000 in your very first job - it takes time, experience and hard work to get there. Your career is a marathon, not a sprint. Good luck!

  • Kenny

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Woah!!! Take it easy with those numbers. Not much of us techs out here in NYC are even cresting 80k with A+, Net+, Sec+, ITILv3, CYSA+ and over 10 yrs XP

  • Greg

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    I totally agree with Josh these numbers are false reportings. I have the follwing following certs--- ITIL Foundation ,Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH), Certified Authorization Professional (CAP), CompTIA Security+, CompTIA Network+, MCP in addition to an AAS in Network Management, Certificate in Cyber Security. Along with 29 years in IT, of which 15 are Security releated and I don't gross what is being shown at having a Network + Cert, off by quite abit.

  • Sorvi

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    I agree with both Vernon and Josh, This article is misleading.. you are comparing the amount people should expect to be paid for having Sec+ or Net+ with a long time of proven experience and skill / to the pay that should be expected at entry level CISSP. the first thing anyone learns in a scientific class is to find facts keeping all things the same with one change at a time. if you are listing the max pay for someone with Sec+ you should be listing the max pay for someone with CISSP. here are some truths Net+ and Sec+ should expect about 50-65K CEH and CASP would be about 70-95K CISSP would be about 95-120K likely the numbers you have are contaminated by people like myself who have CASP or CISSP and have maintained Net+ and Sec+.

  • Nate

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    I think that it's not just experience but location. I know in my area of the country, even with experience those levels of salary are extreme....but if it was San Francisco, or Austin, or Boston...makes sense.

  • Julia

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Thank you for sharing! In Florida, St. Petersburg College, has aligned 4 of these 15 certifications with our curriculum in our workforce, two-year Associate in Science programs (CEH, CompTIA Network+, CompTIA Security+, and CCNP Routing & Switching) and 1 at our Bachelors level (ITIL.) High performing academic students are offered the opportunity to certify free, through use of Carl D. Perkins federal grant funds, and other creative grant-funded programs. Certification credentials are expensive to acquire for anyone, especially those not earning six-figures (yet.) It takes persistence and dedication to build a portfolio of credentials while in school, you have to see the big-picture of why you should approach both at the same time. While we know our students with certification portfolios are not likely to take their first step in the industry and be offered six-figure salaries (although it has happened for “2nd” career folks) we have a ton of evidence that these credentials get the attention of recruiters and employers. Our students are positioning themselves in the workforce, before graduation with CompTIA certifications, and being offered $40,000 to $60,000/year salaries. With our Florida state minimum wage being $8.46, certifications are a great catalyst into a promising career versus accepting unskilled work. Start small, CompTIA certifications are a GREAT VALUE in the world of certification costs…and as the Global Knowledge report suggests, can lead to even more valuable options in the industry overtime.

  • Scott

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    The number is too high. The jobs in I t is rediculiously a ms America beauty pageant contest for a low pay job. And, there are too many contract I t jobs.

  • Andreea

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    Julia’ assessment was my experience as well. I don’t know what companies the other commenters are working for. I live in FL and was offered $60k entry level upon graduation with a Bachelor’ degree in Computer Networking & Telecommunications, and Network+ certification. I’m working toward getting other certs too. During college, I gained hands-on experience with 2 PAID internships over the course of 2 summers. I know people who went into software development and were offered 80K starting salaries. That’s $80,000 right off the bat. They had none of these certifications, they just proved their skill while interning for the companies.

  • Shad

    Friday, March 22, 2019

    This data is heavily skewed. The data identifies that the people who were surveyed had these certifications, but may not be in positions to use them. The higher you go, the more likely you are to have a whole host of certifications. So someone who has the Google Cloud Architect certification may be a director. Or that a director has the Network +. This study doesn't show that the people pulled will always get better pay, only that there are people who have the cert who gets paid well.

  • Adelegan

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Whosoever compiled this list should stop deceiving people though my first job was six figures with six certifications (A+, Linux+, MCP, LPIC-1, Security+, CASP), and not just one. You don’t give a maximum salary but minimum or average to encourage whosoever want to pick IT as a career. This is a misleading and direct lie. I am disappointed that a reputable organization like CompTIA will allow this on its platform. Thanks, guys, for your contributions and speaking out about these outrageous figures.

  • Don

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Hmm. Maybe it's area specific, I can tell you I've been in computers since the 90s and have had my A+, Network+, and Security+ since they were Good for Life certs and having those hasn't landed me a job. However, now if I want to be considered for ANY IT positions through an agency (which let's face it, is where the $$ is). I'm required to recert every 3 years. Now I don't know about anyone else but the best I've been able to do hourly is $17 and that's with my experience and it's also traveling and on temp assignments. It's really difficult for me to justify dropping close to a grand every 3 years for a 4 month/yr temp gig.

  • Joe

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Waaaahhhhh!!!! I'm ONLY making eighty-grand a year!!!

  • Brandon Muffoletto

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    The title of these sort of articles should be "Top 10 certifications held by 6 figure salary earning professionals", not "top paying certifications". This would convey a trend that IT Pro's with more certifications, and certain in demand certifications would make more money as they gain experience. This has been a major problem over the years, I've heard many folks/IT Pro's assume that once they got their A+/N+/S+ certifications they'd be making big bucks; and it's just not true.

  • OKAFOR UCHECHUKWU SAMUEL

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Please I would like to have a full or detailed explanations of what CompTIA A+ really is all about. I know what CompTIA Security+ and CompTIA Network+ are. I want to register for CompTIA A+ with newhorizon here in PortHarcourt Nigeria, hence I needed to get things right before going there for further guidance and enrollment. Counting on your swift response. Many thanks.

  • Jared

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    I have 15 years experience and hold 3 certifications listed above and I make 105k in Maryland so it ain’t far off. Plus fringe benefits yeah way over 110k.

  • Iliya

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    I currently have A+ N+ S+. ITIL, ECES, and two CIW certs and no where near those numbers. I am from the Chicago area.

  • Kelsey

    Saturday, March 23, 2019

    Well I am not sure about mist of you because I have been in IT working with just a Sec+ and Windows7 cert for about 5 years and I am now in the 115-120k range as a system administrator in Fayetteville, NC. An A+ and Net+ wint get you much of anything in IT and a degree... yeah I have no college at all soooo.... I get offers for many jobs almost every single day all over the country offering great money to include extra for cost of living in those areas. Sounds like some of you are making this harder for yourselves than it really is. And as for experience, I have never been with a company that cares that much about your experience because in the end they are going to teach you the way THAT company does things and not your last job. SOME of the numbers are a little far fetched but then again I don't live in LA or NYC where I have had offers so it might not be that far fetched in high cost of living areas. Humm. Oh well, carry in.

  • Max colvin

    Sunday, March 24, 2019

    I have done all the prep work I just need to take the test. 30 years of prep work

  • nkosinathi ndhlovu

    Monday, March 25, 2019

    I have A+, N+ currently studying for sec+ and I have 3 years diploma in IT. im in south Africa I make 50,72 us dollar a month

  • Lu

    Monday, March 25, 2019

    Some of those numbers are not real numbers. I think this is a way to encourage people to jump and get certified. I see someone said that those are real - According to me if only you can get paid based on acquaintances.

  • Mahbuba

    Monday, March 25, 2019

    They are very realistic. If you have the certifications and experience, you should make that amount. If not, then change your job and location. You're welcome.

  • Adelegan

    Wednesday, March 27, 2019

    Whosoever compiled this list should stop deceiving people though my first job was six figures with six certifications (A+, Linux+, MCP, LPIC-1, Security+, CASP), and not just one. You don’t give a maximum salary but minimum or average to encourage whosoever want to pick IT as a career. This is a misleading and direct lie. I am disappointed that a reputable organization like CompTIA will allow this on its platform. Thanks, guys, for your contributions and speaking out about these outrageous figures.

  • Seorim

    Friday, March 29, 2019

    Hi, would love to know when is the next certification exam for comptia A+?? I would love to enroll

  • Zach

    Monday, April 1, 2019

    So I see a lot of people stating this is no where near their own salary but few are actually stating their years in the field and current position with current salary. I know people at my job that have worked for 30 years whereas I have only 7 years and I make more, simply because they don't want the responsibilty that I take on.

  • Tuesday, April 2, 2019

    Hi, Seorim! Thanks for your question. CompTIA A+ is offered around the world by Pearson VUE. This page will help you find a time and location that works for you: https://certification.comptia.org/testing/schedule-exam Good luck!

  • Brad

    Wednesday, April 3, 2019

    As others have said, this survey is very skewed. From what I can tell, it's basically asking people what certifications they have and how much they get paid. The survey doesn't take into consideration whether the certification was a requirement for the job. It's also curious that AWS Associate certs are included but Professional certs aren't. I imagine they didn't have a large enough sample of Pro-certified people in their survey. As someone who has a AWS Pro cert, I can guarantee Pro cert holders get paid more than Associate cert holders.

  • Leo

    Thursday, April 4, 2019

    There was quite a range of options. I can see everyone's point of view. Based on my 20yr IT experience living in NY I can tell you that the money was always there to be had. How do I know? well the answer to that is recruiters and job postings. Always be informed. I've earned a few cert over the span of my career. They absolutely can be used as leverage. No doubt about it. There's something else that's not mentioned. Don't assume that just because you got a cert that you will be compensated for it. If you don't ask you will not get. Simple as that. Many people don't have the personality for it and end up getting short changed. As for myself, I started out of college with a two yr degree making 35k or so on a hourly basis. Fast forward to now, working as a network/systems engineer making 140+ with no current or past certs in networking. Just heard work and dedication. Good luck to all!

  • Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report Team

    Thursday, April 11, 2019

    Hi everyone, It’s great to see so much discussion around the list. Quick background: • The IT Skills and Salary Report is the largest study of IT professionals around the world. The study has been conducted every year since 2008. • The data is self-reported. We remove the outliers. • The power of cross certifications -- These salaries are not based on one individual certification. There a science and art in the creation of this list. We are always tuning the criteria. It’s not perfect (no survey is), but it is a strong barometer about the skills and certifications the market is that contribute to top-paying salaries. • Location is not considered in this list other than being U.S.-focused. What you should take away from this yearly list: • The top-paid professionals consistently have certifications that go along with their specific expertise and more specific certifications that have set them up to earn higher salaries. • For those that mention they have these certifications and aren’t getting paid that much money, it sounds like you’re leaving money on the table. Ask for a raise or switch jobs, especially if you have the experience. The biggest salary increases come from switching jobs. • The number one reason behind making more money? Changing companies. IT professionals around the world who moved to another company reported a 17% salary increase. We live in a skills-driven economy. Go get paid what you’re worth! • It’s not just our data that highlights top-paying salaries. According to LinkedIn, Cloud Architect jobs have a median salary of $155,000 and Solutions Architects are at $139,000 – both are higher than the corresponding certs on our top-paying list. (https://blog.linkedin.com/2019/february/26/introducing-new-job-insights-that-can-help-unlock-a-higher-salary) If you didn’t participate in this year’s survey, you’re invited for next year’s! The survey is conducted every September through October. https://www.globalknowledge.com/salaryreport ~Global Knowledge salary report team

  • Azzam

    Friday, April 12, 2019

    Thanks. Those points give the article way more clarity!

  • Bryan

    Tuesday, June 25, 2019

    I am not totally convinced about the data in the article but I currently make about 110k salary with only 3 years of industry experience and no certifications. The key is how to sell yourself as an individual and to not totally rely on a piece of paper. Just make sure you have the skills that is required for the job and be ready to demonstrate them during your technical interview and you golden. Also if you are making a terrible salary and your have a lot of certifications, the problem lies with "you". What I mean by that is you have to start thinking outside the box and work on how you present yourself with potential employers. Look for another company that is willing to pay what you are really worth and dont settle for less. Take chances and go out of your comfort zone. Old ways of doing IT is DYING really fast so you must adapt to survive.

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