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Top 21 Pandemic Proof Career Certifications in 2021

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

According to ManpowerGroup’s Employment Outlook Survey, employers in the United States are expecting 14% growth going into the 2021.

While many furloughed and unemployed individuals will find themselves getting back to work, they will likely find their work environment quite different. Over half (59%) of employers are planning to offer flexible work options, and 31% of those organizations are planning to focus on developing new skills for a post-pandemic economy.

Even before the dramatic shift to a work-from-home culture, the digital skills gap was at an all time high according to a report by the Society of Human Resource Management. 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.

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 2021 job market is yours for the taking.

We all know that the job market has been uncertain since COVID-19 arrived. Many job markets were impacted and many individuals found themselves out of work or furloughed. But there is some good news: the drastic shift to a digital workspace has fueled the need for skilled IT professionals to keep our daily lives going. The certifications listed in this article will help you stand out from the crowd and are very important to creating a pandemic-proof career.

Here are our picks for the top 21 certifications for 2021 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.

Top 21 Pandemic Proof Career Certifications
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Chapter 1

Help Desk

Most people getting into IT will start their careers in technical support or help desk positions.

It is a great place to get experience and learn more about the inner workings of the IT infrastructure. With a shift to a work-from-home culture at many companies, the help desk is more critical than ever to quickly help end-users resolve the many challenges that may affect them.

Getting certified improves your chances of getting a help desk position and elevates your resume for promotions down the line. There are three key certifications one should pursue if they are currently in or looking for a job in technical support.


Average Salary for a Help Desk Technician: $41,351 (PayScale.com, November 2020)

Certifications Involved:

  • CompTIA A+
  • Microsoft 365: Modern Desktop Administrator Associate
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

Chapter 2

Software Engineers / Developers

One field of IT that is actually still growing in these trying times is Software Development.

In the tech industry, there is a high demand for software engineers and a low supply of certified professionals. In fact, most tech companies have seen no layoffs since the beginning of 2020, and about a third of them are actively hiring.

The main reason this remains a thriving job market is the rapid rise in digital transformation. In order to keep up with the job market, those in or looking for Software Development careers should be looking at Microsoft Azure for Development and Artificial Intelligence.

Average salary for a Software Engineer: $86,442 (PayScale.com, November 2020)

Certifications Involved:

  • CompTIA A+
  • Microsoft Azure Developer Associate (AZ-204)
  • Microsoft Azure AI Engineer Associate (AI-100)

Chapter 3

Cloud Engineer

It should come as no surprise that another growing sector of the IT industry is “The Cloud.”

While the cloud has been around for years, the increased need for collaboration tools for a remote workforce has made this mission critical for most companies. Increasingly, companies and even government entities are moving their infrastructure and software to cloud-based solutions.

Developing your skills in one of the three main cloud service providers will help make your role irreplaceable for employers. Certifications in Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, or Google are all available and extremely valuable for job-seekers or working professionals alike.

Average salary for a Cloud Engineer: $98,850 (PayScale.com, November 2020)

Certifications Involved:

  • Microsoft Azure Administrator (AZ-104)
  • AWS Solutions Architect
  • Google-Certified Professional Cloud Architect

Chapter 4

Information Security

Protecting company and customer information from malicious attacks is paramount in a world where everyone is spending more time online.

Even before the pandemic, cybersecurity was an ideal job market as it was consistently growing and hiring. Due to compliance and regulations, information security certifications are indispensable to this field.

The following certifications are highly respected by employers, and in many cases, requirements for employment, especially with companies that work with the military.

Average salary for an Information Security Analyst: $72,576 (PayScale.com, November 2020)

Certifications Involved:

  • CompTIA Security+
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Chapter 5

Database Administrators

Data is arguably one of the most valuable assets for companies. Strategic decisions hinge upon a company’s ability to access and report on the data they have on file. For this reason, the Database Administrator position can have a lot of job security, even in a pandemic.

An added bonus is that most Database Administrator positions can be worked 100% remotely, so geography and office space is not an obstacle.

It is increasingly common to find job postings that require experience/certification in multiple database technologies. By getting certification in Microsoft Azure, Oracle, or IBM, you will show you have the knowledge to do the job.

Average salary for a Database Administrator: $74,035 (PayScale.com, November 2020)

Certifications Involved:

  • Microsoft Azure Database Administrator
  • Oracle Database Certified Associate
  • IBM Analytics Certification

Chapter 6

Network Administrators

The Networking department can be another great starting place for new IT professionals.

It also offers a long and secure career path that could offer countless promotions as you work your way up the corporate ladder. Because of the massive growth in the IT industry, demand for certified Network Administrators continues to be on the rise.

Companies need Network Administrators to do most of the other functions on this list, like hooking up to the cloud, keeping data secure, and developing software as a team. Cisco is far and away the biggest technology player in the Networking world, and getting certified as an Associate or Professional will put you at the top of the list for one of the most secure careers in the industry.

Average salary for a Network Administrator: $59,974 (PayScale.com, November 2020)

Certifications Involved: 

  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)
  • Cisco DevNet Associate

Chapter 7

Business Professional

Not every IT position requires a high level of technical knowledge. Just like any other department at a company, there are business processes and projects that need to be managed.

Certifications in the Microsoft Office Suite will make you a Power User that can whip up spreadsheets and presentations at a moment’s notice. Or if you enjoy organizing complex projects, the Project Management Professional certification is one of the most highly respected certifications in the world.

An added bonus for these certifications is that they can be applied to any department of a company, which means you will have more doors opened than just that to IT.

Average salary for an IT Project Manager: $88,841 (PayScale.com, November 2020)

Certifications Involved

  • Microsoft Office Specialist
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Lean Six Sigma Green Belt

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

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