Survey Says: IT Certs Make Employees More Valuable

The Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report is here.

Let me start with a personal disclosure: In years past (now more than five of them) I have helped Global Knowledge out with this report's annual write-up. It's been a while though, and I don't believe there's any conflict of interest involved in my reporting and opining on this report or others like it.


I do have some inside understanding, however, of how the report data is acquired, compiled, and analyzed. I can say with some confidence that the report is among the better instances of this kind of thing, and is usually worth a read-through. Thus, here's a link to the PDF download of the 2021 IT Skills and Salary Report.


2021 Survey Highlights


This year, Global Knowledge surveyed 9,325 IT-based respondents from North America, Europe and the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. As far as I can tell, that covers most of the globe. Unlike in previous years, this year's report is broken into seven discrete sections, to wit:


15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2021 — I have reproduced and commented on this list in the next section.

2021 Skills Development Index (PDF) — This explains how SkillSoft's index helps IT professionals identify appropriate training and eliminate skills gaps.

How to Select the Right Certifcation for You — This article is designed to help readers decide which certifications to tackle.

What It Takes to Earn a Top-Paying AWS Certification — This explores AWS certifications, requirements, costs and so forth.

How to Convince Your Manager You Need Training — Tips that explain how employees can build a value- and ROI-based case for business-funded and -supported training.

10 Benefits of Certification for You (and Your Employer) — A recitation of the benefits that certification brings to businesses, as well as to IT employees.

Key Stats of the IT Skills and Salary Report (Infographic) — A visual presentation of the key findings from this year's report in one image.


The 15 Top-Paying IT Certifications for 2021


The Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report is here.

As ever, I'll observe that some certs don't make this list because its contents reflects the population being surveyed. It's long been my gut feeling that high-end architect and extremely senior technical certs are under-represented in this survey (and others like it).


If they were to show up in statistically significant numbers (Global Knowledege has a minimum frequency requirement of 68 instances before it will register certs on its ranking and radar). then they, too, would be near the head of this list, if not leading that parade. I'm talking about things like TOGAF, CCIE, senior SAP consultant credentials, and so forth.


Keep this proviso in mind as you look over the 2021 list, and remember there's more on the landscape than such a list can capture. (Note: I cut-and-pasted the list from the source verbatim and use this note to provide credit and attribution; follow the link on each line to the original document for more details about the credential it covers.)


1) Google Certified Professional Data Engineer — $171,749

2) Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect — $169,029

3) AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate — $159,033

4) CRISC: Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control — $151,995

5) CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional — $151,853

6) CISM: Certified Information Security Manager — $149,246

7) PMP®: Project Management Professional — $148,906

8) NCP-MCI: Nutanix Certified Professional — Multicloud Infrastructure — $142,810

9) CISA: Certified Information Systems Auditor — $134,460

10) VCP-DVC: VMware Certified Professional - Data Center Virtualization 2020 — $132,947

11) MCSE: Windows Server — $125,980

12) Microsoft Certified: Azure Administrator Associate — $121,420

13) CCNP Enterprise: Cisco Certified Network Professional - Enterprise — $118,911

14) CCA-V: Citrix Certified Associate - Virtualization — $115,308

15) CompTIA Security+ — $110,974


The also-rans for 2021 (places 16 through 18) included the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) from EC-Council; AWS Certified Developer, and the Microsoft Certified Azure Solutions Architect Expert, respectively.


I note the continuing preponderance of cloud- and security-related credentials throughout: seven for cloud (including VCP-DVC) and five for security. Together those two topics account for 80 percent of the top 15 slots. That's pretty informative all by itself.


The Key Stats Infographic


The Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report is here.

Skills gaps loom large for businesses and organizations nowadays. These matter when new employees with in-demand skillsets prove difficult to impossible to find, and when existing employees likewise lack those same skillsets, or could benefit from upskilling maneuvers. Here's what the GK survey learned underlies skills gaps, by percentage of respondents affirming various assertions:


? 75 percent of decision-makers affirm a growing skills gap in IT (up by 145 percent since 2016)
? 38 percent say �rate of technology change exceeds skills development programs�
? 35 percent say �it's difficult to attract candidates with the right skills�
? 32 percent say they �haven't invested enough in training to develop the skills needed
? 25 percent say they �cannot pay what candidates demand�
? 54 percent of decision makers say they've been unable to fill one or two positions; another 38 percent say likewise for three or four positions


The biggest impacts of the skills gap on organizations include:


? 55 percent report increased stress on existing employees
? 42 percent report difficulties in meeting quality of service objectives
? 36 percent report decreased capability in meeting business objectives


To address the skills gaps, here's how managers and decision makers surveyed plan to respond (note, categories are overlapping):


? 56 percent say they plan to train up existing staff
? 17 percent say they pan to hire outside support or contract workers
? 15 percent say the plan to add new staff with the requisite skillsets
? 11 percent say they have �no plan� (ouch!)


The rest of the infographic addresses salary components and IT employee characteristics that are certification related. It's definitely worth a look, as are the other elements of the 2021 report (see links above for all sections).


My biggest takeaway is that IT professionals who proactively develop and manage their skillsets and certification portfolios can look forward to lots of opportunities and increase pay in the years ahead. Keep up the good work, people!


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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.