<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=474941229738723&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

Top Career Training Certifications in 2020

Some industries and businesses in the United States are still growing—and hiring—at a strong and steady clip.

In fact, in ManpowerGroup’s Employment Outlook Survey, employers in 13 industries nationwide reported double-digit hiring intentions.

"We're still in a time of unprecedented opportunity for U.S. workers as there are more open jobs than there are people actively seeking work," says Becky Frankiewicz, president of ManpowerGroup North America, a global workforce solutions company.

Unfortunately, 75 percent of HR professionals said they’re still struggling to hire the right people, according to SHRM's The Skills Gap 2019 report, because many applicants lack the right technical skills. The good news is that if you’re ready to find a new job, re-enter the workforce, or advance at your current company, there is immense potential for realizing your career goals—if you’ve got the right skills and technology certifications in tow.

“Because of the combination of the low unemployment rate in the United States and the speed with which IT technologies are being introduced and evolving, enterprise organizations are extraordinarily challenged to identify, hire, and retain IT professionals with current, and especially emerging, IT certifications,” says Allen R. Middleton, the vice president of Enterprise Learning Solutions at New Horizons Computer Learning Center.

As organizations across industries compete to find candidates to serve in the crucial and technologically savvy roles of application developer, systems administrator, security engineer, cloud engineer, and other positions, the 2020 job market is yours for the taking.

Here are our picks for the top 20 certifications for 2020 that can help you find the right job and take the reins on your future.

Download a PDF version of this checklist by filling out this form, or keep scrolling to read.

A Look Ahead: Top Career Training Certifications in 2020 cover
close chapters modal

Chapter 1

AWS Certified Developer: Associate

If you’re interested in creating and maintaining Amazon Web Services (AWS) applications, the AWS Certified Developer credential can help showcase your knowledge and skill set to potential employers.

When combined with the SysOps Administrator certification, this associate-level certification can also lead you to the Development Operations (DevOps) Engineer certification.

As with other associate-level AWS certifications, you can expect to take about one year to familiarize yourself with the technology and prepare for the exam. To get started, you need to not only familiarize yourself with AWS technologies, but you should also be comfortable writing code.

For those new to coding, we recommend having a familiarity with Java for those who are new to coding; however, any programming language will suffice. Once you are satisfied with your skill level, your next step is to take a training course that will help you prepare for the exam.

Average base salary: $100,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Application developer
  • QA tester
  • Big data engineer

Chapter 2

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer: Professional

Have you already earned your AWS Developer and SysOps Administrator certifications, but you want to advance your career?

The DevOps Engineer certification comes next, combining the skills and knowledge of AWS-based application development and the systems they run on.

Because this is a professional-level certification, there is a recommendation of two years of experience with AWS solutions. You should have completed the associate-level certification already, which will account for at least one year of experience.

This certification focuses on a combination of coding and development, along with a strong knowledge of network operations, which puts careers with this certification in high demand.

If you’re new to the field, get started with the associate-level certification. If you have a solid DevOps background, you may want to go directly to a training center where you can learn the skills required for the DevOps Engineer exam.

Average base salary: $121,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Systems engineer
  • DevOps engineer
  • DevOps manager
  • DevOps analyst
  • DevOps security engineer

"My advice for someone who is considering career training but is uncertain as to where to start would be to first ask themselves—truthfully and honestly—what interests them within the information technology world. True interest in a particular area will greatly increase the success that the person will experience as they pursue their career training."

- Gerry Riani, New Horizons Learning Group career adviser

Chapter 3

AWS Certified Security: Specialty

With AWS holding almost half of the cloud infrastructure market, according to Gartner’s latest infrastructure as a service (IaaS) report, there is a need for people who know how to secure the applications and solutions that run on it.

This is where the AWS Certified Security Specialty credential comes in. With this certification, you can showcase your knowledge of security as it pertains to AWS and open doors to a promising career. 

Because this is a Specialty certification, there is a recommendation of five years of experience working in the design and implementation of security solutions. It is also recommended that you have two years of hands-on experience with AWS. Because these are only recommendations, you need to assess your comfort level with the topics and make your own judgment as to your readiness.

If you’re new to the security field, start with some of the entry-level security certifications, such as CompTIA Security+. This will help familiarize you with the core concepts you will need to know. While building your hands-on knowledge and skills in security and AWS cloud solutions, you can also take a training course that will help you not only fit the pieces together, but also understand the nuances of the material that you will be tested on.

Average base salary: $125,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Solutions architect
  • Cloud solutions architect
  • DevOps Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Site reliability engineer (SRE)

Chapter 4

AWS Certified Solutions Architect: Associate/Professional

As more organizations turn to the cloud for their computing needs, having the ability to design and maintain systems on AWS cloud technologies—and the AWS Certified Solutions Architect credential to prove your skill set—can be a huge boon for your future.

The recommended time frame for the associate-level certification is one year of experience solving problems and implementing solutions using the AWS cloud. For the professional option, we recommend two years of experience.

With so many systems and so much infrastructure existing in the cloud nowadays, almost any IT position would benefit from this certification. To get started, begin familiarizing yourself with AWS technologies. Amazon offers dozens of free resources for gaining hands-on experience with the AWS platform, products, and services. You can also get this experience in a more controlled environment through a trusted educational institute.

You should also take the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification exam to make sure that you have the foundational knowledge that you will need to progress to the associate and, eventually, professional Certified Solutions Architect exams.

Average base salary: $111,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Cloud systems engineer
  • Cloud security engineer
  • IT manager/director
  • Production engineer
  • Network administrator
  • Network engineer

Chapter 5

AWS Certified SysOps Administrator: Associate

With infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) adoption on the rise, there is a growing need for systems administrators in an operations role using AWS cloud technologies.

Finding the right job in this field can bring in a salary of more than $100,000, according to PayScale. However, this requires some experience and the right certification, which starts with the AWS Certified SysOps Administrator credential.

This certification is one of Amazon’s associate-level certifications, and it’s recommended that you have at least one year of familiarity with AWS solutions before taking the exam. Once you are comfortable with AWS, you will need to find the right training partner to deliver courses that help prepare you for your exam. These typically take a week in a boot camp-style program.

As with all AWS certifications, it is best to start familiarizing yourself with AWS technologies. Once you have an understanding of the basics, find a partner that will work with you to develop a career training path that aligns with your goals.

Average base salary: $106,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • SysOps engineer
  • DevOps engineer
  • Systems administrator
  • Cloud architect
  • Cloud developer

Chapter 6

Azure Administrator Associate

If you are looking to start a career in IT, the Microsoft Azure Administrator Associate is a perfect certification to work toward.

With Microsoft’s move to Azure for directory services, applications, and just about everything else, this entry-level certification prepares you for a host of jobs.

The training time for the AZ-103 exam is relatively short if you opt for boot camp-style training. Self-paced training would likely take a bit longer. Once you are confident in the skills you learn, you need to sit for the exam to obtain this certification.

If you are new to IT, you may consider starting with the Azure Fundamentals certification. If you have a solid foundation in IT, then you can start directly with a training course to prepare for the AZ-103 exam.

Average base salary: $65,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Cloud systems administrator
  • Windows server administrator
  • Cloud engineer
  • Systems administrator
  • Network administrator

Chapter 7

Azure DevOps Engineer Expert

DevOps is one of the hottest career paths, and just as we saw with AWS, there is a need for DevOps engineers who are familiar with Azure as well.

Holding this certification helps put you in contention for high-paying, exciting careers with a salary range of $125,000-$185,000 a year, according to Nigel Frank.

The Azure DevOps Engineer Expert certification requires either the Azure Administrator Associate or the Azure Developer Associate certification as a prerequisite. You will need to take the boot camp training for either of those courses and pass the exam prior to receiving training for the Microsoft Azure DevOps Solutions AZ-400 exam.

Get started by completing the training and sitting for one of the prerequisite certification exams. Once this is complete, you’ll be ready to move forward with training for the AZ-400 exam.

Average base salary: $125,000 (Nigel Frank International, July 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification: 

  • Systems engineer
  • DevOps engineer
  • DevOps manager
  • DevOps analyst
  • DevOps security engineer

Chapter 8

Azure Security Engineer Associate

Understanding security and the threat landscape in an Azure environment is increasingly important as Azure’s market share continues to grow.

Because there is no prerequisite for the Azure Security Engineer Associate certification, you will need to only take a training course that will help you understand the concepts that the AZ-500 exam covers. Of course, it helps if you have some experience in IT or cybersecurity; however, it is not a requirement.

If you are new to Azure technologies, you may want to start with the Azure Fundamentals certification. Whether you decide to obtain the Fundamentals certification or go straight to the AZ-500 exam, you should find a training center that specializes in helping students learn the skills tested on the certification exam.

Average base salary: $120,000 (Nigel Frank International, July 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification: 

  • Data security engineer
  • Cloud security engineer
  • Cloud security manager/director
  • Network administrator
  • Systems administrator
  • Data engineer

Chapter 9

Azure Solutions Architect Expert

For people who work in a Microsoft environment and need to design, deploy, and maintain solutions running in Azure, the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification is for you.

For the Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification, you will need a weeklong boot camp for the AZ-300 exam and another weeklong boot camp for the AZ-301 exam. To get started on the path to this certification, first consider the entry-level Azure Administrator Associate certification. Once you have this, set up training for the other two exams to move forward.

Average base salary: $130,000 (Nigel Frank International, July 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Azure architect
  • DevOps architect
  • Solutions architect
  • Big data architect

Chapter 10

Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP)

If you are interested in cybersecurity but also want to work in one of the fastest-growing fields in IT, then you should look at the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification.

Because this certification demonstrates expertise in two of the biggest fields in IT—cloud technologies and cybersecurity—it can lead to a number of rewarding job opportunities.

For this certification, you need to have five years of IT experience, with at least three of those in cybersecurity and at least one in an (ISC)² domain. As with most work experience requirements, there are waivers available that may help shorten the time frame. It should take no longer than a week to complete a training program and prepare for the exam if done through a boot camp.

To get started, make sure you have your job experience lined up. If this is an area where you are lacking, look for ways to leverage your experience to find work in the right fields. Once you’ve satisfied this requirement, start your training for the exam through a reputable career training program.

Average base salary: $101,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification: 

  • Enterprise architect
  • Security administrator
  • Systems engineer
  • Security architect
  • Security consultant
  • Security engineer
  • Security manager
  • Systems architect

Chapter 11

Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)

If you’re serious about helping organizations build up their defenses to protect against network breaches, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification was made for you.

This certification tests your ability to go through the process of breaching a network in order to find weak points that a company can address, including recon, gaining access, and covering your tracks.

Unlike some other certifications on our top 20 list, the CEH credential doesn’t require any special work experience. However, an understanding of the basics of computer networks and cybersecurity will be a boon to you in training.

Once you are comfortable with your knowledge in these areas, find a training partner that will cover important CEH topics and help you pass the required certification exam. Boot camps run a week or so in length and teach you different tools and methodologies for working as an ethical hacker.

Average base salary: $79,256 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Security auditor
  • Security analyst
  • Security operations center analyst
  • Systems administrator
  • IT professional
  • Cybercrime law enforcement
  • Vulnerability assessor
  • Penetration tester

"I believe security certifications will be at the top of the certifications list. There are predictions that there will be continued cyberattacks on networks. Certifications validate that the worker is competent in specific areas. The demand for competent IT security professionals is and will continue to be high."

- Cindy Sutherland, VP, Career Development, New Horizons Career Development Solutions

Chapter 12

Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)

One of the more hands-on certifications on this list, the Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI) certification will highlight your understanding of how to gather evidence after a hack or data breach and handle the chain of custody for evidence in the event they need to present this information in court.

If you’re already working in a hands-on cybersecurity job, you’re off to a good start. The next step is to find training that will offer you the ability to participate in hands-on labs, which are vital to the field of forensic investigation. In order to earn this certification, you’ll need to pass an exam and have at least two years of cybersecurity-related work experience.

Average base salary: $88,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification: 

  • Law enforcement cyber crimes unit
  • Defense contractor
  • Legal professional
  • IT in banking
  • Security consultant

Chapter 13

Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)

If you’re interested in working in information risk control, governance, or auditing, the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) certification can help you land the perfect job.

The CISA credential requires five years of experience in one of the CISA job practice domains, although certain substitutions may help shorten this time frame. Once you’ve met this requirement, a training program can help you prepare for the exam.

If you’re interested in earning your CISA certification, go over the job practice document with a counselor at a career training center to see if you meet the requirements. If you don’t, you can find out what you need to do to fulfill them and which training programs will help you prepare for and pass the exam.

Average base salary: $100,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Information security analyst
  • Network operation security engineer
  • IT audit manager
  • IT risk and assurance manager
  • IT consultant
  • Chief privacy officer
  • PCI security specialist

Chapter 14

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification is for those who want a less tactical job. As one of the highest paying jobs in cybersecurity, CISMs focus on how security interrelates with the goals of your organization.

To earn your CISM certification, you need to have five years of work experience, with three of them being in the information security field. To get started on your CISM certification, you need to develop an understanding of how cybersecurity and business goals intersect—something you can learn through career training.

Gaining the experience required for this certification is also among the early steps to take, so be sure to leverage any past work experience you have, especially anything that meets the cybersecurity requirements.

Average base salary: $124,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification: 

  • Information security analyst
  • Security architect
  • Information systems audit manager
  • IT director or manager
  • Chief information security officer

Chapter 15

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification from (ISC)² has long been considered the premier cybersecurity certification, largely because of the requirements associated with it.

In order to earn this certification, you need to pass the required exam and have at least five years of work experience in at least two domains listed by (ISC)². If you don’t meet the experience requirement, you have the option to pass an exam and become an Associate of (ISC)². You have six years to gain the required experience to earn the CISSP certification.

If you have cybersecurity experience, you’ll have good footing to pursue this certification. If you haven’t already met the experience requirement, looking for a job in a relevant field is the next step. Then, get started by finding a career training partner to help you prepare for the exam.

Average base salary: $110,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Security analyst
  • Security architect
  • Security auditor
  • Security systems engineer

Chapter 16

CompTIA CASP+

The CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner (CASP+) certification is for you if you’re looking for a more hands-on job in cybersecurity.

Although it doesn’t hurt to have this certification if you want to move into management someday, it doesn’t address many of the strategies and processes that other certifications cover. If you want to learn what it takes to build and maintain secure networks and systems, this is a good certification to get.

There is no experience requirement for the CASP+ certification, but in order to fully understand the concepts, CompTIA recommends a minimum of 10 years of experience in IT administration, including at least five years of hands-on technical security experience.

To earn your CASP+ certification, begin with some hands-on experience in IT. If you already have this experience, start looking over the course curriculum or speak with a career training counselor to see if you’re ready to enroll in a program that will prepare you for the exam.

Average base salary: $86,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Security architect
  • Security analyst
  • Security engineer
  • Security specialist
  • SOC analyst

"Certification training is a short-term and direct path to what employers are looking for. Yes, four-year degrees have their place in the realm of IT, and rightfully so. However, many individuals that have a four-year degree must obtain the certifications we train in, and they are unable to obtain employment without the required certifications. My view is, why not start with certifications and go to school part-time while working in the field?"

- Tony Bhawani, New Horizons Learning Group career adviser

Chapter 17

CompTIA Security+

Everyone looking to break into the cybersecurity field has to start somewhere, and that is exactly what the CompTIA Security+ certification is for.

Although it helps to have some knowledge of basic IT and cybersecurity topics, there is no job experience requirement for the entry-level CompTIA Security+ certification. You can begin your training and sit for the exam as soon as you master the information.

If you feel that this certification is right for you, start by speaking to a career training adviser that can help you prepare for the exam. Be sure you choose a partner who offers course materials that are meant to teach you about the concepts and skills—and not someone who only “teaches to the test.”

Average base salary: $141,000 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Network administrator
  • Junior systems auditor/pen tester
  • Systems administrator
  • Security administrator
  • Security engineer

Chapter 18

Google Professional Cloud Architect

If you want to advance your career with Google Cloud products, Google’s Professional Cloud Architect certification demonstrates a high-level understanding of cloud architecture on Google Cloud Platform.

As a professional-level certification, Google recommends—but doesn’t require—three years of industry experience along with one year of Google Cloud Platform experience.

As with most other higher-level certifications, you should start with entry-level certifications to gain a better understanding of the technology and for the benefit of the experience. You should also begin building familiarity with Google Cloud Platform’s free resources and locate the right career training center to help you with the certification exam.

Average base salary: $128,418 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • DevOps architect
  • Solutions architect
  • Big data architect
  • Cloud architect

Chapter 19

Google Associate Cloud Engineer

With the Google Associate Cloud Engineer certification, you can show employers that you have a solid understanding of the deployment of applications, monitoring operations, and managing enterprise solutions from the Google Cloud console and command-line interface (CLI).

Although it’s not required, it is recommended that you have at least six months of experience with Google Cloud Platform. Additionally, you will also need to complete training to prepare for the exam.

To get started, use Google Cloud Platform’s free resources to build familiarity with the product line. While you are doing this, look for a career training center that will help you learn the skills specific to the exam so you can practice with the assistance of fellow students and knowledgeable instructor.

Average base salary: $94,596 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Cloud systems administrator
  • Windows server administrator
  • Cloud engineer
  • Systems administrator
  • Network administrator

Chapter 20

Google Professional Cloud Security Engineer

The Professional Cloud Security Engineer certification offers a path for those interested in securing Google Cloud solutions—and specialists who can secure cloud-based resources are in high demand.

This certification shows your knowledge and expertise for designing and implementing secure solutions on Google Cloud Platform.

As with other professional-level Google certifications, there is a recommendation of three years of industry experience, along with one year of Google Cloud Platform experience, to best prepare for the exam. There is also the time you need to spend with a career training partner to learn the specifics of the exam, but you can do this while working toward the other recommendations.

Unless you meet the recommendation of three years of experience in IT or cybersecurity, you should start with an entry-level certification. The CompTIA Security+ and Google Associate Cloud Engineer certifications are excellent places to start. Just like with the other Google certifications, you should build your familiarity with Google Cloud Platform’s free resources.

Average base salary: $94,596 (PayScale.com, November 2019)

Job opportunities related to this certification:

  • Data security engineer
  • Cloud security engineer
  • Cloud security manager/director
  • Network administrator
  • Systems administrator
  • Data engineer

Chapter 21

Get Started with New Horizons Career Development Solutions

If you’re interested in IT career training, whether to break into a new technology field, refresh your credentials, or update your skills to advance your career, New Horizons Career Development Solutions is here to help. We offer a broad range of career training programs designed to help you get to the next level so you can achieve your career—and life—goals.

Contact us today to learn more about the best career training options for you, and see how we can help you become the model modern employee for a growing, changing technology job market.

Download a PDF version of this checklist by filling out this form, or keep scrolling to read.

A Look Ahead: Top Career Training Certifications in 2020 second cover