IT Certifications Guaranteed To Boost Your Career

Certifications can help advance your IT career and get you a raise. These certifications in specialties like cloud, virtualization, and systems engineering from AWS, Cisco, VMware, Microsoft and others are among the highest in demand.

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With rapidly changing technology, IT certifications have become more important than ever. Certifications can help act as a distinguishing factor for IT professionals to demonstrate their expertise, and provide opportunities for getting better jobs and better salaries. Deciding on the right certification is a strategic step for any IT pro, providing essential momentum towards growth and success.

In recent years, there has been an increase in demand for specialized skills for performing very specific tasks, from coding and project management to infrastructure management and deployment. IT certification provides a tangible measurement of the technical knowledge and experience of IT professionals, and plays an important role in developing a skilled workforce. Employers, IT pros, and consumers of IT services can all benefit from certification.

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Enabling IT professionals to demonstrate skills and experience, certification exams act as milestones for career progression, and help IT professionals choose a career path towards excellence. Organizations recognize well-known certifications as proofs of skill and knowledge, and often depend upon them for hiring. Certifications can act as a medium to identify and pick up the best talent out of crowd. Certified professionals are equipped with deep knowledge of the subject of certification, which helps ensure they can provide quality IT services to their consumers. 

Here is a list of certifications across a range of areas, including cloud computing and virtualization, that could potentially lead to career advancement and a raise. Although several of these certifications require quite an investment, they could lead to a job making as much as $75,000 to $95,000 annually.

NEXT: Cloud computing certifications

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Cloud technology 

Certification in cloud computing is in demand these days, with organizations increasingly migrating workloads to the cloud Many cloud providers offer cloud certifications, including AWS, Google, and Microsoft. Cloud technology involves deploying clusters of remote servers and software systems that allow centralized data storage and online access to computer services or resources. Average salary ranges from $80,000 to $90,000 annually.

Amazon Web Services certifications

AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Associate
This certification is designed for IT professionals with experience in designing distributed applications and systems on the Amazon Web Servicesplatform.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect - Professional
Ideal candidates for this certification are professionals with advanced technical skills and experience in designing distributed applications and systems on the AWS platform.

AWS Certified Developer - Associate
The certification is intended for those with technical skills and knowledge in developing and maintaining applications on AWS.

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator - Associate
Recognizes  professionals with technical expertise in deployment, management, and operations on the AWS platform.

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer - Professional
Designed for those with expertise in provisioning, operating, and managing distributed application systems on AWS.

IBM cloud certifications

IBM Certified Solution Advisor - Cloud Computing Architecture V4
This certification is for IT pros who want to be recognized for their skills and experience in cloud computing. It aims to impart knowledge about cloud computing concepts and benefits, cloud computing design principles, IBM cloud computing architecture and IBM cloud computing solutions.

IBM Certified Solution Architect - Cloud Computing Infrastructure V1
This credential recognizes those with proven knowledge in the design, planning, architecture and management principles of an IBM cloud computing infrastructure.

Microsoft cloud certifications

Microsoft Certified Solution Expert: Private Cloud
This certification is for those who have interest towards Microsoft-led technologies and want to improve and prove their knowledge and skills. The certification provides the skills to build a private cloud solution with the help of Windows Server and System Center.

Microsoft Specialist Certification in Microsoft Azure
For IT pros such as developers who have prior experience working with Azure, Microsoft offers three specialist certifications to expand their skills with an eye toward future business requirements.

Salesforce certifications

This certification is for those with experience being a Salesforce administrator.

Implementation Experts
For those who have experience applying Sales Cloud solutions in a customer-facing role.

Pardot Consultant
Designed for IT pros who have experience in applying Pardot marketing automation technology with in-depth knowledge of users and prospects, automation and segmentation tools, and building emails, forms and landing pages in a customer-facing role.

Intended for those who have cloud development experience and want to showcase their knowledge, skills and abilities in creating bespoke application and analytic solutions using the platform.

Technical Architect
For candidates who have experience measuring customer architecture and designing secure, high-performance technical solutions on the platform.

Google Cloud certifications 

Google offers two certifications to IT pros experienced with the Google Cloud Platform who pass online qualification exams.

Google Qualified Developer
To be certified as a Google Qualified Developer, a candidate must pass at least one of the following exams:

  • Google App Engine: CP301

  • Google Cloud Storage: CP302

  • Google Cloud SQL: CP303

  • Google BigQuery: CP304

  • Google Compute Engine: CP305

Passing the Google App Engine exam qualifies a candidate to be a Google Qualified Developer for Google App Engine.

Google Qualified Cloud Platform Developer
To be a certified Google Qualified Cloud Platform Developer, candidates must pass all five of the exams listed under Google Qualified Developer.

NEXT: Virtualization certifications


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Virtualization involves consolidating data to enable multiple virtual servers or desktops to run on a single physical machine (host) and sharing the resources of that single computer across multiple virtual environments. Average salary ranges from $95,000 to $105,000.

VMware certifications

VMware Certified Associate -- Data Center Virtualization (VCA-DCV)
This certification enables IT pros to have greater credibility when discussing data center virtualization, and how to virtualize the data center with vSphere.

VMware Certified Professional 5 -- Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV)
This certification is designed to enable IT pros to effectively install, deploy, scale and manage VMware vSphere environments, and also provides skills obtained from a minimum of six months experience with VMware infrastructure technologies. Candidates must complete a VMware-authorized training course and hands-on experience with VMware technologies.

VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 -- Data Center Administration (VCAP5-DCA)
To earn this certification, IT pros must complete a VMware-authorized training course and conduct hands-on experience with VMware technologies. Candidates receive the knowledge required to effectively install, deploy, scale and manage VMware vSphere environments, as well as the skills gained by a minimum of six months experience with VMware infrastructure technologies.

VMware Certified Advanced Professional 5 -- Data Center Design (VCAP5-DCD)
This certification requires candidates go through a lab-based exam, performing tasks using actual equipment to verify skills at installing, configuring, and administering large and complex virtualized environments. Receiving this credential gives an IT pro an advanced certificate that demonstrates expertise with VMware vSphere 5, as well as the ability to use automation tools and implement virtualized environments.

VMware Certified Design Expert 5 - Data Center Virtualization (VCDX5-DCV)
Reserved for top  design architects highly skilled in VMware enterprise deployments. This certification program is designed for veteran professionals who want to validate and demonstrate their expertise in VMware technology. The certification is completed through a design-defense process, where all candidates must submit and effectively secure a production-ready VMware solution before a board of veteran VCDX-DCV holders.

Citrix certifications

These virtualization certifications focus on the design, deployment, and management of XenDesktop 7 solutions.

Citrix Certified Associate -- Virtualization (CCA-V)
This certification validates the skills and knowledge of IT operators and administrators to manage, maintain, monitor and troubleshoot XenDesktop 7 solutions. 

Citrix Certified Professional - Virtualization (CCP-V)
Validates the skills and knowledge of experienced IT solution builders, such as engineers and consultants, to install, configure and roll out common XenDesktop 7 solutions.

Citrix Certified Expert - Virtualization (CCE-V)
Recognizes the skills and knowledge of experienced IT solution designers, such as architects, engineers and consultants, to assess and design comprehensive XenDesktop 7 solutions.

NEXT: Project management certifications 

Project management

Project management is a complex process that must be mastered by professionals in every domain. It encompasses planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources, procedures and protocols to achieve specific goals in scientific or daily problems. Average salary ranges from $100,000 to $110,000 annually.

The Project Management Institute, a nonprofit professional membership association for the project-, program- and portfolio-management professions, offers globally recognized standards, certifications, resources,  academic research, professional development courses, and networking opportunities. Here are some of the certifications provided by PMI:

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
This certification is designed for candidates who are less experienced project practitioners looking to demonstrate their commitment to project management and want to improve their ability to manage larger projects and earn additional responsibilities.

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
Designed for candidates who are active users of agile practices in their organization or who are in the process of adopting agile methods, this certification is ideal for demonstrating commitment to this rapidly growing approach to project management.

Project Management Professional (PMP)
This certification is designed for those who want to demonstrate competence in leading and directing project teams. The ideal candidate is an experienced project manager looking to solidify skills, stand out to employers, and maximize their earning potential.

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)
Those who hold this credential are portfolio managers looking to prove their ability to manage and line up a portfolio of projects and programs to achieve organizational strategy and objectives.

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)
This certification is designed for business analysts working on projects and programs, as well as project and program managers who perform business analysis as part of their role.

Program Management Professional (PgMP)
Candidates for this certification are usually already program managers, looking to validate their ability to manage complex, multiple projects and line up results to organizational goals. Professionals can use this certification to increase visibility and communicate valuable skills.

NEXT: Networking certifications 

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With the growth of IT in every industry, computer networks have grown significantly far above and beyond what they were thought to be capable of. Organizations now require certified engineers and network admins to manage and deploy them. Average salary ranges from $95,000 to $110,000.

Cisco certifications

The certifications from Cisco are suitable for those with networking experience at any  level, starting at an entry-level certification in any field, up to  more complex certifications such as architect. Cisco offers various levels of specialized certification for skills such as collaboration, data center, routing and switching, security, service provider, voice and wireless.

Entry Level Certification
These Cisco certifications are designed for those who have a keen interest in networking and want to start a career in the same. This certification serves as a stepping stone.

Associate Level
Designed for candidates who already have an entry-level certification or some experience in networking, such as troubleshooting or network design. These certifications would serve as the foundation to a career in networking.

Professional Level
For networking pros who have significant experience and skills in networking domains and are ready to go to the next level. These certifications are ideal for candidates wanting to explore new avenues within networking, with varying roles and responsibilities.

Expert Level
For networking pros who are recognized for their expert network engineering skills and mastery of Cisco products and solutions. These certifications are designed for those who want deep technical networking knowledge and challenging assignments.

Recognizing deep technical expertise, These certifications are the highest level  Cisco has to offer.

Juniper certifications 

Juniper offers its Junos-based and platform-specific certification, which enables a candidate to demonstrate competence with Juniper technologies and relevant expertise. The certification revolves around these three tracks:

  • Service Provider Routing and Switching: This track is designed for those who have been working with infrastructure or access products in a Juniper  routing and/or switching end-to-end environment, predominantly within the telecommunications arena or a Fortune 100 enterprise environment.

  • Enterprise Routing and Switching: Designed for candidates working in small to large enterprise settings that install and support Juniper-based networks in which LAN and WAN routers and switches reside.

  • Junos Security: This track is directed toward those who design and implement Juniper  secure networks.

A networking pro can choose to get certified in any of the above mentioned tracks depending on his or her interest. Candidates also have the option to get certification ranging from associate level to expert level in all the above mentioned tracks. The levels of certification are:

  • Juniper Networks Certified Internet Expert (JNCIE)

  • Juniper Networks Certified Internet Professional (JNCIP)

  • Juniper Networks Certified Internet Specialist (JNCIS)

  • Juniper Networks Certified Internet Associate (JNCIA)

NEXT: Systems engineer certifications


Systems engineer

Organizations looking for professionals experienced in system solutions, with the ability to build innovative and groundbreaking solutions both on-premise and in the cloud, will want to see some of these certifications. Average salary ranges from $75,000 to $90,000 annually.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE)

This set of Microsoft certifications proves an IT pro's ability to build innovative solutions across multiple technologies, both on-premise and in the cloud.

MCSE: Enterprise Devices and Apps
This certification is designed for candidates with the skills needed to manage devices in today’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) enterprise. The candidate with this certification can be placed as a traditional desktop support technician to enterprise management of BYOD devices and apps.

MCSE: Messaging
For IT pros with an interest in  cloud-based services such as Microsoft Office 365. This certification qualifies the candidate for a position in network and computer systems administration.

MCSE: Communication
Designed for those who have an interest in creating a consistent communications experience at the workplace. This credential qualifies candidates for a place in network and computer systems administration.

Red Hat

Red Hat Certified Systems Administrator (RHCSA)
This certification is designed for experienced system administrators looking to validate their skills and knowledge. It also can be helpful to students who have attended Red Hat System Administration I and II and want to be RHCSA certified. Average salary ranges from $85,000 to $95,000 annually.

Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
For IT pros who are already RHCSAs and want to obtain higher-level credentials. Candidates such as experienced senior system administrators who have not yet been certified may be interested in this certification. Average salary is $90,000 annually.

NEXT: Developer certifications

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Technology developer

Developers with specific skillsets can be difficult to find, and certification can help test their knowledge and understanding. Certifications that cover specific development technologies provide a yardstick for organizations looking for technology developers. Average salary ranges from $85,000 to $95,000.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)

Microsoft provides a platform for professional developers with its MCSD certification to certify their ability to build innovative solutions across multiple technologies, both on-premise and in the cloud.

MCSD: Web Applications
This certification is designed for those who would like to pursue a career in creating and deploying modern web applications and services. It qualifies the candidate for a position as a web developer or web administrator.

MCSD: SharePoint Application
Designed for candidates who would like to pursue a career in designing and developing collaborative applications with Microsoft SharePoint. The ideal candidate is someone who has a solid foundation of web programming skills using HTML5 with JavaScript and ASP.NET MVC 4.

MSCD: Application Lifespan Management
For IT pros who would like to pursue a career in managing the entire lifespan of application development, qualifying them for a position as a developer, applications engineer or IT project manager.

Oracle Java Certification

Oracle, through its Java certification, offers a great way to invest in developing a career as a professional developer. IT managers know that the skills verified during the certification process are the same skills that can lead to increased productivity and enhanced staff credibility. In addition, IT professionals can tap into new and larger markets with Sun certifications.

Getting certified in Sun Java technology provides a clear demonstration of technical skills and professional commitment.

Here are  certifications offered for Java technologies:

Java SE Certification

Associate Level Certification (Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE 8 Programmer)
The candidate has a basic or fundamental knowledge of Java programming language and has an inclination to have a career in developing Java technologies.

Professional Level Certification (Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer)
For those with experience in Java SE 8 who are looking to advance in a career with Java.

Master Level Certification
Candidates must complete all the above certifications, and pass two additional exams on Java Application development and object-oriented analysis and design using UML in order to be a master in Oracle Java Technologies SE 8.

Java EE Certification

Professional Level Certification
An IT pro who an Oracle Certified Professional, Java Programmer or is a Sun Certified Java Programmer (any version) is ideal for this certification.

  • Oracle Certified Professional, Java EE 5 Business Component Developer

  • Oracle Certified Professional, Java EE 5 Web Services Developer

  • Oracle Certified Professional, Java EE 5 Web Component Developer

Master Level Certification
Candidates have knowledge and skills in enterprise applications with Java EE, object-oriented analysis and design Using UML, and developing applications for the Java EE 5 Platform. There are two master-level certifications:

  • Oracle Certified Master, Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect

  • Oracle Certified Master, Java EE 6 Enterprise Architect

NEXT: IT security certifications

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IT security

IT security is a top priority for organizations around the world, and they need certified IT security pros with industry-leading credentials who can create comprehensive, effective information and cyber security solutions. Average salary ranges from $85,000 to $95,000.


Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC) is a provider and developer of cybersecurity certifications. GIAC tests and validates the ability of specialists in information security, forensics, and software security. GIAC certification holders are recognized as experts in the IT industry 

GIAC Security Essentials (GSEC)
This certification is designed for IT pros who want to demonstrate skills in IT systems hands-on roles with respect to security tasks. Ideal candidates for this certification possess an understanding of information security beyond simple terminology and concepts.


International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC)² is a nonprofit specializing in educating and certifying information security professionals during their careers.

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
Ideal candidates for this certification are information assurance pros who know how to define the information system architecture, design, management and controls to assure the securty of business environments.

Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)
This certification is designed for those with proven technical skills and practical security knowledge in hands-on operational IT roles. The SSCP provides confirmation of a practitioner’s ability to implement, monitor and administer IT infrastructure in accordance with information security policies and procedures that ensure data confidentiality, integrity and availability.


ISACA provides applied guidance, benchmarks and other effective tools for all enterprises that use information systems. Through its comprehensive guidance and services, ISACA defines the roles of information systems governance, security, audit, and assurance professionals worldwide.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) 
This certification is for candidates who have an inclination towards organizational security and want to demonstrate the ability to create a relationship between an information security program and broader business goals and objectives. This certification ensures knowledge of information security, development and management of an information security program.

NEXT: Database architect certifications 

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Database Architect

Database architects define how data is stored, integrated, used and managed by different users and applications for processing the data. Average salary ranges from $85,000 to $105,000.

Oracle certifications 

Oracle Certified Expert, Oracle Database 12c: Performance Management and Tuning
This certification is designed for database administrators, support engineers and technical consultants who can demonstrate a fluency in and strong understanding of Oracle Database performance analysis, management and tuning for optimal performance in a complex environment.

Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Associate
Designed to broaden an individual's  knowledge and skills by exposure to a wide array of important database features, functions and tasks. This certification imparts the knowledge of how to perform complex, hands-on activities through labs, study and practice.

Oracle Database 12c Administrator Certified Professional
For candidates who already have an associate certification, and want to enhance their knowledge and skills and get certified to a higher level. 

Oracle Database 12c Certified Implementation Specialist
For those who have a strong foundation and expertise in selling and implementing Oracle Database 12c solutions. A candidate with this certification would have the knowledge of installing and creating a database, using Oracle Enterprise Manager Database Express and SQL-based management tools, configuring the Oracle network environment, managing the Oracle instance, managing database storage structures, administering users and security, managing schema objects, performing backup and recovery, managing the database and using advisors, and managing Oracle database software.

Oracle Database Performance and Tuning 2015 Certified Implementation Specialist
Designed for those with a strong foundation and expertise in selling and implementing Oracle Database Performance and Tuning solutions. Ideal candidates for this certification have knowledge of product/solution overview & positioning, product area features and functions, architecture, solution implementation, performance diagnosis, performance tuning, performance testing, and use cases.

Oracle Real Application Clusters 12c Certified Implementation Specialist
For candidates with a solid base and proficiency in selling and implementing Oracle Real Application Cluster 12c solutions.  A candidate with this certification possesses knowledge about Oracle Grid Infrastructure and Real Application Clusters (RAC), installing an RAC environment, automatic storage management, managing and monitoring Oracle RAC environments, Oracle Clusterware, RAC Networking, and RAC 12c new features.

Upgrade to Oracle Database 12c OCP, OCM
Candidates who already possess Professional and Master Certifications from Oracle can upgrade their certifications by following a particular upgrade path provided by Oracle.

Microsoft certifications 

Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA) in Database
For those with introductory knowledge of and skills with databases, including relational databases, such as Microsoft SQL. Candidates are usually at entry-level positions in their organizations.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA): SQL Server 2012
Designed for IT pros who desire to be database developers or analysts. The certification imparts knowledge in querying, administering and implementing Microsoft SQL Server 2012.

IBM certifications

IBM Certified Solution Developer
This certification is designed for candidates who have substantial experience with intermediary or advanced level skills in developing DB2 stored procedures, user defined functions and triggers.

IBM Certified Database Associate
For IT pros who are entry-level DBAs or users of any of the DB2 family of products. Candidates with knowledge about the fundamental concepts of DB2 9 through hands-on experience or formal education are ideal for this certification.

IBM Certified Database Administrator
Suitable candidates have knowledge of DB2 9.7 and are capable of performing the intermediate to advanced skills required in the day-to-day administration of DB2 instances and databases.

IBM Certified Application Developer
Designed for those who have experience with z/OS application with the IBM DB2. Ideally, a candidate is highly skilled and responsible for the development of applications that utilize the DB2 product on the z/OS operating system.

IBM Certified Advanced Database Administrator
For those who have worked as leads in DBA for the DB2 products on one or more of the following platforms: Linux, UNIX (including AIX, HP-UX, and Sun Solaris), and Windows. The ideal candidate is someone with extensive experience as a DBA and extensive knowledge of DB2 9.7.

IBM Certified System Administrator
For individuals who are willing to have the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to describe the architecture and administer the processes required to plan, install, manage, tune and secure DB2 for z/OS environments.


Database Administrator (DBA)
This certification is designed for IT pros who have in-depth knowledge of run-time configurations, processes, scaling, backup and recovery, monitoring, and performance tuning for production MongoDB instances.

Developer Associate
For candidates who have in-depth knowledge of at least one programming language and the associated MongoDB driver. An IT pro who wants to be an application developer should have a detailed understanding of MongoDB CRUD operations, the driver API, schema design, aggregation and basic scaling.

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