Eighty-seven percent of IT professionals hold at least one certification, up from 85% in 2019 and just behind the all-time high of 89% in 2018. Latin America and EMEA have the highest percentage of certified professionals (90%), while North America is below the global average for the second year in a row.
Nearly 40% of certified IT professionals earned their most recent certification in the last six months, while a similar number are already pursuing their next certification at the time of the survey.
It’ll be interesting to see how these numbers fluctuate in our 2021 report as the COVID-19 pandemic may delay certification plans this year.
INDIVIDUAL BENEFITS OF CERTIFICATION
A majority of certified IT professionals experience two main certification benefits: better job performance and higher salaries. (Note: For organizational benefits of certification, see the IT Decision-Maker Insights section of this report) I must clarify that my current position and organization is not important how many certifications do you have you can not be beyond of boss' capacities (sadly is true).
After training to achieve an IT certification, over half of IT professionals said the quality of their work has improved, while one-third find their work more engaging post-certification. Another 15% say they now make fewer errors.
IT professionals tend to be more effective in their jobs after certification because of the training investment required. Especially with hands-on training, individuals can learn new skills that easily translate to the workplace. These same people make an immediate
and meaningful impact in their job, which is why nearly 20% either received a raise or a promotion after getting certified.
An IT certification indicates to employers that an individual is willing to invest a significant amount of time to build important skills. Our respondents also said certification can help earn the trust of customers. As for salaries, IT professionals on average earn more
than non-certified peers. The biggest discrepancy is in North America, where the salaries of certified professionals are eight percent higher than those with no certifications.
While cybersecurity certifications are the most popular, cloud computing credentials are associated with the highest salaries. AWS and Google Cloud certainly influence these numbers, as each has some of the top-paying certifications in the world. In Latin America, AWS Web Services certifications are associated with an average salary of $42.801.
Worldwide, enterprise architecture certifications (e.g., TOGAF®) are linked with the top average salary ($107,827). Project management, agile and scrum certifications also have global averages north of $100,000 a year. Over half of our survey respondents have at least one cybersecurity certification, making it by far the most popular category in 2020. Cisco is second (22%) and Microsoft is third (21%).
We’ve established that a higher-than-average salary is just one of many certification benefits. So which IT certifications are associated with the highest pay?
Keep in mind that 77% of certified IT professionals hold more than one certification. The salaries indicated on the ensuing lists are not indicative of achieving one certification. They are a culmination of several factors, including relevant skills, job role, tenure, geography
Project Management Professional (PMP®), which is administered by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), is the highest-paying certification in Latin America. It ranked third last year. PMP® is the most important industry-recognized certification for project managers.
A couple of foundational credentials cracked the top 10 in Latin America: ITIL® Foundation and Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals.
For the second straight year, Cisco has its strongest showing in Latin America, with three now-retired certifications making the list CCNP Routing and Switching, CCDA Design and CCNA Security. To be included in the list, a certification must have had at least 25 Latin
TOP-PAYING CERTIFICATIONS ASIA-PACIFIC
CISSP ranks first in Asia-Pacific salary, while CRISC and PMP® rank second and third, respectively.
Asia-Pacific has two Microsoft certifications in the top 10: Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals and Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert. It is the second straight year that Microsoft has its strongest showing in this particular part of the world.
Higher Asia-Pacific salaries lean toward cybersecurity again this year, three of the top five revolve around information security. To be included in the list, a certification must have had at least 40 Asia-Pacific responses.
MOST POPULAR CERTIFICATIONS
ITIL® Foundation is the most widely-held certification this year. Seventeen percent of our respondent base holds this credential. ITIL Foundation validates an understanding of the ITIL framework and how it can be used to enhance IT service management.
It is uniquely different from most certifications mentioned in this report as it remains one of the few that focuses on the intersection of IT and the needs of the business.
The most popular certification category is cybersecurity. Among certified cybersecurity professionals, 21% have earned the CISA certification and 13% have their CISM.
Here are the 10 most widely-held certifications worldwide:
1. ITIL® Foundation
2. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching
3. CISA - Certified Information Systems Auditor
4. Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) Routing and Switching
5. CompTIA A+
6. CISM - Certified Information Security Manager
7. CompTIA Security+
8. CompTIA Network+
9. CCA-V: Citrix Certified Associate - Virtualization
10. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
MOST PURSUED CERTIFICATIONS
When looking to the future, many IT professionals are planning to acquire more cloud skills, mainly because organizations have ramped up their adoption and implementation of cloud technologies.
That’s why it’s no surprise that three AWS cloud certifications are in the top five most-pursued IT certifications of 2020, including AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate, which is number one on the list.
The second most-pursued certification of 2020 is CISSP, which proves that cybersecurity, along with cloud, will again be the preeminent investment areas in IT.
Here are the top 10 certifications that IT professionals plan to pursue this year:
1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate
2. CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional
3. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional
4. CCNP Routing and Switching
5. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner
6. CISM – Certified Information Security Manager
7. Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert
8. Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate
9. CRISC – Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
10. AWS Certified Security – Specialty.
MOST DIFFICULT CERTIFICATION
This year we asked IT professionals about the most difficult certification they’ve earned. Almost every certification mentioned in this report was listed by at least one respondent.
Regarding specific certifications, CISSP and CISA were mentioned most often. One respondent said, “CISSP and CISA are equally difficult due to the breadth of material covered by each exam.”
CISM was another popular choice as the most difficult, and most cited the exam’s length as the reason. PMP® and Nutanix were also recurring answers.
Generally speaking, the more certifications one holds, the better. Cross-certification
is one way to boost compensation. The thinking is that the training and preparation
that goes into certification will result in an enhanced IT skillset. This translates to
higher associated salaries.
Source: Global Knowledge