Top 5 IT Certifications for 2013

By JC Cook

According to, the IT industry boasts an unemployment rate of only 4.4%, far below the overall national rate. But, as it is the beginning of a new year, it seems only right to set aggressive and ambitious career goals even within such a robust industry. One of the best ways to increase your value, both in skill set and pay check, is to gain IT certifications. IT certifications build upon your knowledge base in ways that make you even more valuable to your employers. It is important to understand what systems your company currently uses, or, in the case of all you freelancers out there, what is popular and trending.

Don’t worry though. We’ve done the research for you! Here’s our list of the top 5 IT certificates that will make the greatest impact in the upcoming year, based upon annual salary, cost of exam, and demand.

VMware Cloud Certification (VCP-Cloud)

Cloud networks are the latest must-have for any company wanting to balance productivity within an ever varying environment, and VMware boasts over 400,000 customers, as well as around 80% of the virtualized workloads worldwide.

  • Annual Salary: $59,000-80,000
  • Exam: iaaS.
  • Cost: Not listed.
  • Notes: VMware suggests taking their VMware vCloud: Deploy and Manage the VMware Cloud (V 1.5) course to prepare.

Find out more about VMwate here

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

Where there is anything of value, there will always be thieves, and where there are thieves, people will need someone to protect them. That’s where a CISM certification comes in. CISM certifications boast a high popularity with both private and government agencies and one of the higher average salaries in the IT world.

  • Annual Salary: $65,000-111,000
  • Exam: CISM Exam.
  • Cost: $400-800
  • Notes: Being a member of ISACA drastically reduces the cost of the exam and prep items.

Find out more about CISM here

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate/Expert (MCSA, MCSE)

It’s still a business PC world, so it should come as no surprise that getting certified with the world’s largest software manufacturer will help advance your career. There are a lot of subcategories to these certifications, so study up on your company’s needs, or where you want to place your emphasis.

  • Annual Salary: $52,000-115,000
  • Exam: Varies by specification.
  • Cost: Around $70 per.
  • Notes: Microsoft advises gaining MCSA certification first, then moving on to the MCSE level.

Find out more about MCSA/MCSE here.

Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)

  • Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking, and the CCNA is meant for entry level network engineers, allowing you to work successfully with routed and switched networks.
  • Annual Salary: $43,000-116,000
  • Exam: 640-802 CCNA
  • Cost: $295

Find out more about CCNA here.

Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA)

  • The sheer amount of wireless networks in existence right now is simply ridiculous, and will only go up. Those with CWNA certifications have seen a 36% salary increase since 2005, a trend not likely to stop in 2013.
  • Annual Salary: $60,000-98,000
  • Exam: CWNA PW0-105
  • Cost: $175

Find out more about CWNA here.

Honorable Mentions (These almost made the top 5!)

  • Apple Certified Support Pro (ACSP)
  • Adobe Certified Expert (ACE)
  • Project Management Pro (PMP)
  • Green IT (CompTIA Green IT Certification)
  • Data Analytics (EMCDSA, EMC Data Science Associate)

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university WGU offers bachelor's and master's online degree programs in IT. To find out more, please visit


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