Top IT Certifications | IT Certifications & Average Cost | Resume.com
One way to attract attention on your application or resume is by listing any information technology (IT) certification that you have earned. There are many certifications available, depending on your educational background, interests and long-term goals. Learn about the top certifications for IT professionals and how they can help advance your tech career.
What is an information technology (IT) certification?
Having a certification in an IT specialty validates a professional’s ability to understand complex computer operating systems, programming, information systems and computer software and hardware. Certifications also attest to your level of knowledge, as many exams have prerequisites pertaining to years of experience and background. There are dozens of IT certifications available that help employers gauge the knowledge of an applicant.
Top IT certifications
Here are the top certifications to pursue in the field of information technology:
Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr)
Average Cost of Certification: $3,750 application fee, plus $11,250 exam fee
This certification is considered to be one of the most valuable among designations for network architects, and for good reason. This special accreditation requires that applicants possess the Cisco Certified Design Expert (CCDE) as a prerequisite. Applying for the CCAr certification and then taking the exam requires an investment of $15,000 in total. Plus, you must be approved by a panel of judges (appointed by Cisco) and complete a phone interview before the exam.
Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect
Average Cost of Certification: $200 registration fee
Professionals with this designation know how to design, plan and manage the architecture within Google Cloud technologies. They find solutions that enhance security and compliance to ensure technical and business processes are fully optimized. Google Cloud Certification exams don’t currently have prerequisites but encourage you to have experience using the tools covered in the exams.
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
Average Cost of Certification: $50 application fee, plus $575 to $760 exam fee
The demand for security professionals with leadership skills continues to grow as businesses face new security threats. Information security (IS) systems managers guide the process of managing security activity and training their staff, which includes strategic planning. The CISM designation is recognized as the standard for security management. Before you apply, you must have at least five years of work experience in IS, three of which must be as a manager.
AWS Certified Solutions Architect—Associate
Average Cost of Certification: $20 practice exam fee, plus $150 exam fee
Application architects who are certified in Amazon’s cloud platform, Amazon Web Services (AWS) are in high demand as consumers continue to use Amazon for their everyday shopping needs. This role involves overseeing all aspects of the platform, from design to technical support. To receive the associate level of this certification, candidates must have at least one year of hands-on experience in AWS. They may then pursue the professional-level certification.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE): Data Management and Analytics
Average Cost of Certification: $165 exam fee
The role of a data architect involves working with big data or complex data sets. IT professionals who wish to become certified in data management and analytics often pursue the MCSE designation, as it provides the foundation to oversee large-scale data resources. To receive this certification, candidates must already have received their Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA) certification. From there, candidates must pass one or more of the 13 exams in specialty areas ranging from cloud data platform solutions to data engineering.
Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer
Average Cost of Certification: $245 exam fee
As programmers continue to use Java for desktop and mobile development, they may become certified in SE 8, the latest version that comes with important updates. Having this certification qualifies you for high-paying jobs and strengthens your credibility among other applicants. Oracle, the parent company of Java, offers six certification levels, each with a corresponding acronym.
Project Management Professional (PMP)
Average Cost of Certification: $405 to $555 exam fee
You may receive a substantial salary increase once you receive this designation because it shows that you have excellent leadership and organizational skills that help businesses run efficiently. To achieve this designation, you must complete 4,500 hours of project management experience and 35 hours of project management education before you apply.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Average Cost of Certification: $699 exam fee
Professionals who work as security analysts and network architects should pursue this credential to demonstrate their level of expertise in the IT field. Passing this exam verifies your proficiency in several domains of security and risk management, which makes you an appealing candidate when your resume is up against other applicants.
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer—Professional
Average Cost of Certification: $300 exam fee
Working in a DevOps (development and operations) role requires an impressive background in analytics, coding, testing, security and operational support. One of the more established certifications in the DevOps field offered by AWS helps employers know that you’re competent in your field. Candidates interested in this certification must already have an AWS credential in development or SysOps (system operations), as well as prior experience working in an AWS environment.
Cisco Certified Network Professional Wireless (CCNP Wireless)
Average Cost of Certification: $300 per exam, for a total of $1,200
Wireless networking experts are responsible for managing the cloud services that help businesses operate remotely while collaborating efficiently with automated processes. To earn your certification, you must qualify for the exam. Part of your qualifications include having earned your Cisco Certified Network Associate Wireless (CCNA Wireless) or other Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) certification prior to enrollment. Then, you may apply to take the four exams that cover design, security, troubleshooting and deployment.
Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
Average Cost of Certification: $995 to $1,695
Employers value specific certifications, including that of a scrum master who performs software development tasks through a management framework. This promotes better productivity and product quality, plus increased customer and employee satisfaction. Scrum Masters manage teams in a way that helps them meet their objectives. To become certified, you must attend a two-day seminar or course, then you can register for the exam after 30 days.
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
Average Cost of Certification: $950 to $1,199
Businesses hire certified ethical hackers to protect their information systems from malicious hackers who target digital infrastructures. To become a CEH, you must have at least two years of information security experience, plus a background in IS. Signing up for the four-hour exam training is highly recommended because it is one of the most difficult exams to pass.
Tips for choosing an IT certification
Here are a few tips to follow when considering an IT certification:
Consider your career goals
Chances are, you’re currently working in IT or studying to become a professional. Think about how an IT certification may help you achieve your career goals. Look at the market demand and job prospects for the particular career field.
Research the exam you want to take
Know the value of getting a specific exam, what is required, and how long it will take you to achieve. You don’t want to waste time pursuing a certification that won’t be helpful for your career goals, or that is out of your budget.
Start training as soon as possible
The more time you give yourself to prepare for the exam, the better your outcome will be. Invest in study guides and books, interactive labs, online training and even asking other professionals to mentor you.
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