The TechRepublic Top Certs for 2020 List Is On Point

The TechRepublic top certs story is on point.

If you read my stuff here at GoCertify with any frequency, then you already know that I'm not afraid to ding writers who publish "top cert" stories and fail to get things right, or consider the subtleties always present in this kind of exercise. Thus, I also have to give credit where it's due.


Looking over Macy Bayern's story at TechRepublic this morning, I have to give her some kudos for a well-researched and well-written story. It's titled 11 popular IT certifications and cross-certifications that pay the most, and it's worth reading all the way through. For those with ADHD, there's also a short video on this subject there at the site.


It's the first analysis of Global Knowledge's Annual IT Skills and Salary Report for 2019 (registration required) that I've seen this year, so I'm jumping on it here. (Full Disclosure: I have contributed to this report in previous years, but had nothing to do with the 2019 version.)


What Makes Ms. Bayern's List?


Wisely, the author breaks the list down by category, and presents possibilities in each one (the first is for North America and more detailed and nuanced; the second is for the rest of the world and is just a simple list). I shall do the same in my recap, which I'll follow with some commentary.


North America List

1. Cybersecurity: CISSP in North America, CISA everywhere else. CISM and CRISC also place in the Top 5.

2. ITIL: The Foundation (entry level) credential still rules this roost. Even though the ITIL program has been around for more than 20 years, it's a little depressing that the "bottom of the pyramid" cert in this collection remains the most popular.

3. CompTIA: The big three still reign supreme in this domain: A+, Security+ and Network+, in case you didn't already know. No surprises here.

4. Project Management: PMP comes out number one, and Certified ScrumMaster number two, in North America. Prince2 is more popular elsewhere, at number 1 in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and number 2 in Asia-Pacific.

5. Red Hat/Linux: Red Hat's Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) comes out on top, and it's Certified Engineer (RHCE) cert also made the Top 5. The Linux Professional Institute's LPIC-1 also made the top 5, as did its entry-level Linux Essentials cert.

6. Google Cloud: Most of Google Cloud's certs show up on cloud cert radar, which is surprising to me because AWS and Azure both enjoy a bigger marketshare than does the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

7. Microsoft: The survey shows little traction for Microsoft's current cert portfolio, and reports the now-defunct MCSE and MCSA as being among the most popular. It also mentions the still-viable Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) cert.

8. Cisco: Ditto the preceding, with Cisco getting ready to turn over it's entire certification portfolio next month (February). An interesting grab-bag of items here, including CCNA and CCNP in Routing and Switching, CCNA Security, CCENT, and CCDA.

9. Citrix: Quite popular in North America; CCA-V, CCA-N, and CCP-V come in for specific mention.

10. VMware: An emerging elephant in the certification room, VMware lays claim to a surprisingly large share of the cloud computing marketplace nowadays. VCA6-DCV comes in for specific mention in this category.

11. AWS: Most of the portfolio shows up under this category, including their Solutions Architect – Associate, SysOps Administrator – Associate, and Solution Architect – Professional certs. AWS gets additional mention as "particularly valuable when cross-certified with other certifications."


Rest of the World List (Copied verbatim from Ms. Bayern's article)


1. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional ($120,136)
2. GCP Cloud Architect ($118,756)
3. CISSP ($116,573)
4. GCP Data Engineer ($114,888)
5. AWS Certified SysOps Administrator – Associate ($114,800)
6. TOGAF 9.1 ($111,984)
7. Project Management Professional ($111,196)
8. AWS Certified Developer – Associate ($111,178)
9. AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate ($110,429)
10. GCP Associate Cloud Engineer ($106,044)


Pondering the Cloud and Its Certification Conundrums


The TechRepublic top certs story is on point.

I can't really argue with either list. But I can — and will argue — with the categories that get used. It's weird to separate out the players in the cloud marketplace — about which, in the past few days, I've heard a CEO of a cloud technology company say "The cloud changes everything" and "Nobody builds on-premises applications anymore; all new development is cloud-focused and cloud-native."


I think it would be valuable and useful to put the cloud players into a cloud category, and rank them independent of vendor or sponsor. It's hard to figure out, really, where players fit in a landscape that treats Google, AWS and Microsoft independently. That goes "double ditto" for VMware, Citrix, and Cisco, too.


Cloud computing, cloud platforms, and cloud-based applications, services, and infrastructures are the heart and soul of IT nowadays, and will continue to gobble up everything else in the current decade. We all need to develop — yours truly included — a nuanced and detailed understanding of certifications that touch on cloud, and where their value propositions lie.


This is going be an interesting challenge, and something I plan to spend some time researching, thinking about, and reporting on here at GoCertify this year. Stay tuned!


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
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.