Article by Randy Muller, Global Knowledge Instructor, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCDST
When most individuals hear the word "Certification", dollar signs immediately begin dancing in their heads. While some certifications do command a higher salary, this is not true for all. With the recent completion of our annual IT Skills and Salary report, I thought it would be a great time to look at some of the more popular certifications - and their associated pay.
NOTE: The ranking below are based on certifications that received the minimum number of responses required to derive a salary figure that is statically accurate. There are certifications that pay more that are not represented due to their exclusive nature. These include CCIE: Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert and VCDX: VMware Certified Design Expert, for example.
1. CCDP: Cisco Certified Design Professional ($107,878)
There are two tracks at the Associate and Professional levels - Designing and Networking. The Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP) certification demonstrates that the individual who has passed the required exams possesses advanced knowledge of Cisco network design concepts and principles. The CCDP certified individual can discuss, design, and create advanced networks.
With the CCDP certification, you can plan addressing and routing schemes, security, network management, data center, and IP multicast complex multi-layered enterprise architectures that include virtual private networking and wireless domains. The CCDP curriculum includes building scalable internetworks, building multilayer switched networks, and designing network service architecture1.
2. ITIL Expert Certification ($107,092)
What is this ITIL that we hear so much about? The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITILv3) is a foundational process that provides for quality IT Service Management. The success of ITIL is through the use of documented and proven processes that cover the entire Service Lifecycle.
The ITIL Expert level is the third of four levels. The ITIL Expert level certification is aimed at those individuals who are interested in demonstrating a superior level of knowledge of ITIL Version 3 (V3) in its entirety. Once you have achieved ITIL Expert level you will also satisfy the pre-requisite entry criteria for the ITIL Master Level; the highest level of certification within the ITIL V3 scheme, though the Master level is still under development
3. PMP: Project Management Professional ($103,570)
The Project Management Institute's (PMI) Project Management Professional (PMP) credential is recognized as the most important certification for project managers, is globally recognized and in heavy demand. The Project Management Professional credential demonstrates that you not only have the experience but also the education to successfully lead and direct projects.
The PMP credential is for experienced project management professionals as the qualifications and testing for this certification are rigorous as well as the required continuing education requirements. All of these factors ensure that the PMP credential is widely respected. The PMP experience and exam requirements focus on five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, & Closing
4. CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional ($100,735)
The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) credential is for security managers and professionals who develop policies and procedures in information security. The CISSP certification has become the gold standard in information security certifications and education. Earning and maintaining a CISSP certification is required for many governmental, military and civilian security positions.
The CISSP was the first credential in the field of information security, accredited by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) to ISO (International Organization for Standardization) Standard 17024:2003. Earning your CISSP certification is not only an objective measure of excellence, but is a globally recognized standard of achievement.
5. CCDA: Cisco Certified Design Associate ($97,995)
The Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) demonstrates that the individual who has passed the required exams has the requisite knowledge, experience and understanding required to design a Cisco converged network. A CCDA certified individual has the skills to design a routed and switched network infrastructure and services involving LAN, WAN, and broadband access for businesses and organizations.
6. CCNP: Cisco Certified Network Professional ($97,296)
There are two tracks available at the Associate and Professional levels - Designing and Networking. The Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) demonstrates that you have the ability to plan, implement, verify and troubleshoot local and wide-area enterprise networks. A CCNP certified individual is expected to work collaboratively with other Cisco specialists on advanced security, voice, wireless and video solutions.
7. ITIL v2 Foundation & ITIL v3 Foundation ($96,128 & $93,250)
What is this ITIL that we hear so much about? The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (TIL) is a foundational process that provides for quality IT Service Management. The success of ITIL is through the use of documented and proven processes that cover the entire IT Service Lifecycle.
ITIL v3 is the current version of this widely adopted best practices framework for IT management The ITIL Foundation certification is the first of four levels in ITIL and offers those who are certified 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
8. CCNA: Voice ($92,837)
There are two tracks at the Associate and Professional levels - Designing and Networking. The Cisco Certified Network Associate Voice (CCNA Voice) demonstrates that an individual possess the required associate-level knowledge and skills to administer a voice network and validates skills in VoIP technologies such as IP PBX, IP telephony, handset, call control, and voicemail solutions.
9. AIS: HP Storage Works ($91,158)
An HP Accredited Integration Specialist (AIS) is able to design, support and integrate business-class solutions (potentially including platform, operating system, software, storage, network and option components) to solve the business requirements of a customer. The AIS: Storage Works certification validates that you, as an HP technical professional, are fully able to prepare an HP Storage Works solution for a customer and can perform all aspects of installation and startup service
10. AIS: HP ProLiant ML/DL/SL Servers ($87,332)
An HP Accredited Integration Specialist (AIS) is able to design, support and integrate business-class solutions (potentially including platform, operating system, software, storage, network and optional components) to solve the business requirements of a customer. A certified HP technician will be able to fully prepare a ProLiant expandable tower (ML), rack mount (DL) or scalable (SL) server.
The certified HP technician is able to perform all aspects of installation and startup tasks, including hardware configuration, operating system installation, HP driver installation, and full management instrumentation and place these systems into either a test environment or into production, or be ready for the customer to install his applications.
11. VCP: VMware Certified Professional ($87,151)
Virtualization and those who are knowledgeable on virtualization products are in heavy demand. VMware is one of the leading vendors of virtualization products and earning a VMware certification is the first step toward gaining industry recognized expertise in virtual infrastructure and the industry recognition that goes along with it. The VMware Certified Professional (VCP) demonstrates that you have the skillset to successfully install, manage and deploy VMware vSphere 4.
12. CompTIA Project+ ($87,057)
The CompTIA Project+ certification (as is true for most CompTIA certifications) is an international, vendor-neutral certification that covers the entire project life cycle from initiation and planning through execution, acceptance, support and closure.
The Project+ certification covers the business and technical project management skills needed to successfully manage business projects. A Project+ certified Project Manager has the demonstrated required skills necessary to complete projects in a timely manner and within budget as well as emphasizing achieving buy-in from stakeholders and maintaining proper scheduling.
The Project+ certification can be earned in a reasonable period of time and with less expense than other project management certifications. There are several advantages in earning a Project+ certification: you do not have any prerequisite, you do not have to submit an application and nor do you have any continuing education requirements..
13. APS: HP Blade System Solutions ($86,554)
The Accredited Platform Specialist (APS) - HP Blade System Solutions certification is a hardware support certification designed for HP field repair engineers. This certification validates the skills required by Field engineers who need to perform basic troubleshooting, repair, installation, configuration, and verification of the proper operation of HP Blade System products. Those earning this certification are mainly service technicians who work for HP or HP channel partners
14. CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker ($86,053)
A Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) is a skilled security professional who understands the weaknesses and vulnerabilities in target systems and knows how to use this knowledge and specific tools as if he were a malicious hacker. Individuals who have earned the CEH certification from EC-council may fulfill job roles such as security officers, auditors, security professionals, site administrators or anyone who is concerned about the integrity of the network infrastructure.
An Ethical Hacker is an individual who is usually employed or contracted by an organization and who can be trusted to ethically penetrate corporate networks and/or computer systems using the same methods and tools as a hacker. The key point is that an Ethical Hacker has written authorization to probe and possibly penetrate the target network.
15. MCDBA: Microsoft Certified Database Administrator ($84,683)
The roles and responsibilities of a database administrator are quite varied and as a consequence, so is the skill set required. Access to information (both speed and accuracy) is critical to corporations and as a result, corporations are dependent on their databases.
The Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA) certification validates the unique skillset required to succeed in a variety of job roles, such as database administrator, database analyst, and database developer on SQL Server 2000. A MCDBA will most likely have knowledge of Visual Basic or other scripting languages, C/C++, Java and other programming languages.
A DBA must also have knowledge of the relational database language used for their database (Oracle's PL/SQL, Microsoft's T-SQL). For individuals who administer, develop, or analyze Microsoft SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008 databases, Microsoft offers Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and Microsoft Certified IT Professional (MCITP) certification paths.
If you don't see your certification listed above, visit the Global Knowledge web site for a complete listing of over 100 certifications and their respective average salaries.