Which Professional Certifications Will Help You Earn the Big Bucks in 2021?

Take the right career step forward by investing in academic essentials – get your success ‘certified’

Learning never stops, be it for a student, a fresher, or a seasoned professional. People of all ages are eager to enrol for a certification course relevant to their profession and boost their learning curve. What’s better is that many of the top professional certification programs are designed and certified by tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. This is why top online certificate programs are widely accepted by employers and are helping students and employees to leverage them for their career growth.

You may also like: 6 Easy Steps To Kickstart Your Career As A Project Manager

Selecting the Right Certification 101

Certifications are not a replacement for conventional education. They are a valuable addition to the existing qualification. Unlike a high school exam or a graduation degree, professional certifications are much more career and job oriented. The immediate benefits of these certifications are enjoyed both by the certificate holder and the recruiting organization. 

When you choose a professional certification, it should enhance your professional standing. If you are part of an organization, it should be able to lift your stature within the hierarchy, in terms of skill and qualification. When you invest in certification, you would also expect that it leads to a positive impact on your income. It should open up new career opportunities for you, making you qualified for better jobs and higher pays. 

Just as you would have your expectations from your certification, so would the organizations. They would want their employees or fresh recruits to be equipped with certifications that fill their job requirements. Certifications can also bring a newer technology or perspective into their business, and help them evolve technologically as well as commercially. Certifications are considered essential to fill training gaps and increasing the organizational skill repository. Organizations can increase employee morale and retain employees through timely certification courses.  

Top Highest Paying Certifications in 2021

Across different areas of expertise, we pick some of the best paying certification courses available at the moment. Apart from being the certifications that pay well, these certifications have returned immense benefits to students and professionals, and are expected to continue to do so in the upcoming year.

1. Google Certified Professional (GCP) Cloud Architect

By clearing the GCP Cloud Architect certification, you can plan and create a cloud solution architecture. You will obtain an in-depth understanding of Google Cloud Platform and cloud architecture. You will be designing the technical and business processes, and the security around them. It helps you to manage the implementation of cloud architecture and ensure its operational reliability. As a cloud architect, you will be able to design, develop, and manage business solutions by leveraging Google Cloud technologies. 

The certificate will be valid for 2 years and you can recertify to keep the certification valid. The certification is provided based on a 2-hour exam in a multiple-choice format. The registration charge for the exam is $200. Google advises aspiring Cloud Architects to accumulate at least 3 years of industry experience including 1-year experience in design and management in Google Cloud Platform

It is estimated that a GCP Cloud Architect is earning an annual average salary of $176,000, making it one of the highest paying certifications today.

Google Certified Cloud Architect
Source: simpliv.com

2. PMP® Certified Project Management Professional

With project-oriented roles projected to increase 2.2 million by 2027, the search for project talent continues to increase. Recognized by organizations across the globe, PMP certification is the gold standard for project management professionals. It is designed to help you master the nitty-gritty of managing projects i.e. from initiation to execution to stakeholder communication.

In order to apply for the certification, you will have to meet either of the following requirements:

  • A four-year degree
  • 36 months experience in leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification


  • A high school diploma or an associate’s degree (or global equivalent)
  • 60 months leading projects
  • 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM® Certification

Professionals holding a PMP® certification earn 25% more than those without the certification.

The average salary of a Project Management Professional in the United States stands at $112,000, according to the PMI’s Project Management Salary Survey 10th ed.

2. CISM® Certified Information Security Manager

Billed as a course that helps you transition from technical work to a managerial role, CISM provides you with expertise in information security management. The four domains where a CISM certificate enriches your knowledge are:

  • Information security governance
  • Information risk management
  • Information security program development and management
  • Information security incident management

The exam consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. Scores are awarded from 200 to 800, and the passing mark is 450. You have to pay an application processing fee of $50. To appear for the exam, you must have:

  • Five years of verified experience in information security
  • A minimum of three years of experience in information security management in at least three of the CISM domains,
  • Experience must be within 10 years preceding the application date or 5 years after the exam passing date

Maintaining the CISM qualification includes annual completion of 20 hours of continuing professional education (CPE) and adherence to the Code of Ethics.

One of the best IT certifications, Certified Information Security Manager is estimated to earn around $149,000 on average, annually.

3. CRISC^TM Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control certification provides expertise in the identification and management of enterprise risk. With this certification, you are better equipped in the implementation and maintenance of information system controls in business processes. The areas in which a CRISC certification enhances your skills are,

  • IT risk identification
  • IT risk assessment
  • Risk response and mitigation
  • Risk and control monitoring and reporting

To apply for CRISC certification, you need to pay50 and fulfil certification requirements. The requirement is that you must have passed the CRISC exam in the last five years and you have full-time experience in the CRISC domain areas.

As a maintenance requirement, you must complete and report 20 hours of CPE annually, report 120 hours of CPE hours in each three-year reporting cycle, pay the CRISC annual maintenance fee of $45 ($85 for non-members), adhere to the Code of Professional Ethics and comply with annual CPE audit, if required.

The average salary of a Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control is observed to be around $146,000 annually.

4. CISA – Certified Information Systems Auditor

CISA is an advanced auditing certification that is ideal for auditors. If you want certification in audit, control, monitoring, and assessment of IT and business processes, CISA covers the relevant subject domains you need,

  • Information systems auditing process
  • Governance and management of IT
  • Information systems acquisition, development, and implementation
  • Information systems operation and business resilience
  • Protection of information assets

As a certification requirement, you must have passed CISA in the last five years, you must have full-time experience in the CISA domains, and you must apply for the certification along with the $50 application processing fee.

Similar to CRICS, the CISA maintenance requirement includes the completion and reporting of 20 hours of CPE annually. You also have to report 120 hours of CPE hours during every three-year reporting cycle. The CISA annual maintenance fee is $45 for members and $85 for non-members. You have to comply with the CISA Code of Professional Ethics and comply with the annual CPE audit if required.

It is estimated that a GCP Cloud Architect is earning an annual average salary of $176,000.

5. AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner

To authenticate your thorough understanding of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud, the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is one of the AWS IT certifications to go for. This certification ensures that you are knowledgeable in AWS Cloud and its basic infrastructure, architectural principles, value proposition, key services, security and compliance aspects, billing, account management, pricing models, documentation, technical assistance, deployment, and operations.

While six months of AWS Cloud experience are often mentioned as a prerequisite for the course, you can actually gain the basic knowledge of cloud services and uses in the AWS Cloud platform a lot faster with an exam-focused training course. For example, learning with the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification training course by BitDegree Academy, you'd get ready in under a month – and with a 100% success rate, it’s truly an option worth looking into. It is a multiple-choice exam that costs you $100.

An AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner is expected to earn an annual average salary of around $131,000.

6. Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals

If you want advanced cloud expertise around Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Certified: Azure Fundamentals can provide you with certified knowledge. It is suited for students, developers, administrators, and managers who have basic knowledge of cloud services and their use in Microsoft Azure. It imparts knowledge on cloud concepts, core Azure services; Azure solutions and management tools; general and network security features; identity, governance, privacy, and compliance features; and Azure cost management and service level agreements.

The course can be pursued free online or as a paid service with the aid of an instructor. The exam AZ900 costs $99. 

Microsoft Certified Azure Fundamentals certificate holder is estimated to earn $127,000 annually on an average.

7. VMware Certified Professional 6 - Data Centre Virtualization (VCP6-DCV)

This is a certification of your capability in installation, deployment, scaling, and management of VMWare vSphere 6 environments. It consists of a set of a recommended training module that includes, latest insights into vSphere; its installation, configuration, and management; optimization and scaling; designing and fast-track deployment; and configuration and management. It is a 100-minute exam with 65 questions, the passing mark being 300. Scheduling the exam would cost you $250. The certification course also offers practice exam modules and additional resource materials and links. 

The annual average salary of a VMware Certified Professional 6 - Data Centre Virtualization certificate holder is around $130,000.


Certifications are an industry-proven way of reaffirming your worth to your employer and prospective hirer. When aligned with your area of expertise, a professional certification can bridge the little gaps that can escalate you to the next level in your career path. We hope that you make the right choice from the top certification options and gain from the course pursued. When you put in that little extra effort into your certification, better career options and heavier paychecks await you at the end of it.

Earn The Big Buck In 2021. Get Certified Now!

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Raktim Sharma