Certifications are fundamental to advancing any IT career, so we’re dedicating a full week to the superlative IT certifications out there — the hardest, easiest, and the highest paying. We also threw in the best certs to help you survive the singularity because we feel as though that’s important.
Here are the most expensive certifications, based on exam cost alone. These numbers don’t include the prerequisite exam costs, value of time, or study material.
IT pros tend to pursue these certifications later in their career. The certifications tend to have lots of moving parts, board exams, and long, long written tests. Some certifications are a bit pricier than the rest, but they’re worth it in the end.
5. CCIE Routing and Switching – $1,850
Of the certifications on this list, the CCIE Routing and Switching is the most popular. Although the price tag of $1,850 (USD) may seem steep, it’s nowhere near as expensive as some other certs. Considered the Cisco PhD, the CCIE certification marks you as a highly-skilled network engineer — and it’s way cheaper than an actual PhD.
Although there are no official prerequisites, Cisco recommends 500 to 700 hours of hands-on lab practice. If you wish to take your Cisco certifications into the big league, CCIE Routing and Switching is the way to go.
4. Oracle Database 11g Certified Master Exam (OCM) – $2,498
The OCM costs a strangely specific value of $2,498 (USD). The exam exhaustively tests your Oracle Database knowledge. With Oracle Database as the number one database management system (DBMS) in terms of revenue share, this cert can be quite useful.
3. ITILⓇ Master Level Certification – $4,400
The ITILⓇ Master Level Certification is highest rung of a long ladder of ITILⓇ certs, all testing your IT management capabilities. Starting with the Foundation level, one must progress through Practitioner, Intermediate, and Expert in order to finally qualify for Master. However, the path isn’t quite as simple as scaling a ladder. Rather, it is a progressive system of exams, credits, and real-life experience. To navigate the ITILⓇ pathway, you might need a guide. Luckily, ITILⓇ expert Chris Ward broke down the ITILⓇ pyramid in a recent webinar.
The Master Level certification itself can cost $4,400 (USD).
2. Cisco Certified Architect (CCAr) $15,000
This is the grand prize winner for most expensive certification.
CCAr costs a total of $15,000 (USD): $3,750 (USD) for the initial interview, and $11,250 (USD) for the exam itself.
In the exam, a Cisco Certified Architect candidate creates and defends network architecture tailored to a certain set of requirements. Basically, you have to develop a business proposal in a workday and then defend it to a group of your CCAr peers — a feat that requires an intense level of technical and business skill.
The certification is incredibly illustrious. Due to the exorbitantly high cost and difficulty, only a handful of people have been certified, and most of them work at Cisco.
1. No Certification
This is a bit of a trick answer, but it’s 100% true. Although CCIE costs $1,850+, systems engineers with the cert make 27% more than those without — or $20,000 more per year. CCIE provides a ten-fold return on investment every year. In general, certifications almost always pay for themselves through increased earnings.
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