Top 10 IT Certifications for Beginners
The median annual pay for information technology professionals was about $84,000 as of 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is more than double the median annual pay for all professions combined. Computers play a part in multiple functions for nearly all professions, and somebody has to take care of them all, making the IT profession a growing one. BLS projects the industry to add more than half a million jobs during the decade ending in 2026.
Most of the highest paying IT jobs require some form of certification, though, so it's important to know what type of training will be necessary depending on the specific IT career you are pursuing.
CRISC: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control
According to the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA), this certification ensures that the holder is well-versed in risks to information systems, then designing/implementing solutions. This certification, according to the IT Skills and Salary Report, has an average salary of $119,227 per year and is a good certification for those interested in Information Systems Security positions.
CISM: Certified Information Security Manager
Another ISACA certification, the CISM certification recognizes proficiency in information security management, as someone who manages, designs, and assesses information security for a given organization. This certification has some prerequisites, such as existing certifications like GIAC. According to the Skills and Salary Report, holders of this certification earn an average of $118,348 per year.
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Like CRISC and CISM above, this certification recognizes proficiency in security and risk management, as well as software development security. The average annual reported salary for holders of this certification is $110,603.
CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor
Another IASCA certification, the CISA ensures that Information Systems auditors have the skills necessary to evaluate systems and follow best practices to “support trust in and value from information systems.” The average salary of CISA holders is $106,181.
CCDA: Cisco Certified Design Associate
The CCDA is Cisco’s certification for network design. Make sure you’re certified with another Cisco certification (such as CCNP Routing and Switching or any CCIE certification), as it’s a requirement for the CCDA. The average income of a CCDA holder is $99,701. This certification, along with the CCNP, is good to have if you’re interested in becoming a network engineer.
CCNP Routing and Switching
At $97,038 per year average annual salary, the CCNP Routing and Switching certification is good for someone with at least one year of networking experience and ensures that the holder can implement and maintain wide-area networks and work with specialists on solutions.
MCSE: Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer
Microsoft has changed the nature of the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert to be more of a wide-ranging certification focusing on implementing technology over a wide variety of versions instead of one focused on specific disciplines. However, an MCSE is still a highly respected certification to obtain, and the average salary for MCSE holders is $96,215 per year.
ITIL v3 Foundation
The ITIL v3 certification—the ITIL Master—recognizes those who can apply ITIL concepts of quality IT solutions in real-world situations. The average annual salary for ITIL Master certification holders is $95,434.
CEH is a vendor-neutral (not tied to any brand) certification for information technology workers who wish to specialize in "legally" hacking malicious hackers, using the same knowledge and tools that malicious hackers use. Two years of security-related experience is preferred before receiving a CEH. The average annual salary for CEH holder is $95,155.