Are IT Certifications Worth It? When to Get Certified in Your IT Career

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Though they can require some work and upfront costs, IT certifications can help you gain the skills and credentials you need to get a job in the field.

Girl looking up IT certifications in cafe

There are several benefits to getting an IT certification, but there are several costs, too. Certifications can help you to learn needed skills and demonstrate them to employers. On the other hand, certifications can require studying or coursework and cost up to several hundred dollars to take. So, how do you know that the benefits will outweigh the costs for you? 

Certification or no certification, in the end, what matters most is your actual ability to do the job. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether to get an IT certification.

When IT certifications can be worth it for you

Getting an IT certification might be worth it if you’re trying to bolster your experience and skills, don’t have other related credentials, or are just starting out in the field.

1. You’re just starting out in IT.

If you’re new to the IT field and don’t have any past work experience, school work, or personal projects you can point to in an interview, an IT certification can go a long way. 

An IT certification isn’t just a way for employers to see that you have an industry-recognized credential showing you can have a baseline of experience. You can learn much about a topic, study for the certification exam, and improve your technical skills. Plus, the actual content of the certification can give you a roadmap of what you need to know for related jobs. Even if you know the ins and outs of different operating systems, if you don’t know basic security or data storage principles, you might be limited in the roles you're qualified for. Getting an entry-level certification that tests you broadly on IT fundamentals can ensure you have the foundational knowledge you need.

Read more: 5 Essential IT Certifications: Entry-Level and Beginner

2. You’re trying to gain more experience or skills in your current role.

Certifications can help you reach the next step in your IT career. Let’s say you’re a system administrator trying to learn more about cybersecurity but aren’t building any related experience in your day-to-day work. Studying for and getting a cybersecurity certification may bring you the practical training needed to make the transition or expand your current role. Even if you have some experience with a new topic, a certification can ensure you’ve learned it thoroughly enough to be on par with other professionals in that realm.

At the end of the day, being able to actually do the work is what matters the most. But certifications can act as a bridge between where your experience and skills are, and where you want them to be.

3. You want to see a boost in your salary.

There’s evidence that certifications and skill development are correlated with bigger raises. The average raise among IT professionals was five percent in 2023, according to Global Knowledge. Twenty percent of IT professionals reported receiving a raise from learning new skills through certifications [1]. Remember, it’s not a guarantee that getting a certification will lead to a hefty raise—but acquiring the skills your employer needs may increase your chances.

Plus, the IT field is lucrative—and growing. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates computer and IT jobs will grow much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. The average professional in the field made $100,530 in 2022. Compare that to the average across all jobs, which was $46,310 [2]. 

Are Google certifications worth it?

Of the top 10 highest-paying certifications worldwide, Google certifications hold seven of those spots. The list below outlines each one with their respective average salaries [1].

1. Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Network Engineer: $163,198

2. Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Security Engineer: $159,135

3. Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud DevOps Engineer: $148,781

4. Google Cloud Certified - Professional Data Engineer: $148,082

5. Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Developer: $147,253

6. Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Architect: $146,212

7. CISSP - Certified Information Systems Security Professional: $140,069

8. AWS Certified Security - Specialty: $138,053

9. AWS Certified Advanced Networking - Specialty: $137,698

10. Google Cloud Certified - Professional Cloud Database Engineer: $137,394

Read more: IT Salaries: Roles, Location, and Experience

Google Professional Certificates

You might also consider earning a Career Certificate from Google. Based on a 2022 program graduate survey, 75 percent of Google Career Certificate graduates in the US reported positive career movement ranging from raises to promotions to a new job within six months of completion. Whether you want to start or advance your career, you have certificate program options ranging from beginner to advanced levels. You can try one out for free for the first seven days here.


4. You’ve considered certification costs.

Certifications can cost up to several hundred dollars. Taking the CompTIA A+ certification exams (two are required), for example, costs a total of $492 as of January 2024. The Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) costs $749. 

But if the certification will open doors to a career path you’re interested in, they can be a worthwhile investment. CISSP holders made an average salary of $156,699 in 2023 [3]. CompTIA estimates that entry-level IT jobs you might land with an A+ certification typically offer salaries ranging from $45,000 to $60,000 [4].

Worried about costs? If you’re already in an IT position and think the skills you’ll gain can benefit your employer, try asking your supervisor to see if the company will cover the costs for exams or training courses. 

Some prep courses can also offer discounts on the certification exams. Taking the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, for example, can prepare you for 80 percent of CompTIA A+ exam materials, plus give you a 20-percent discount on exam costs (subject to change).


5. You don’t have a degree in computer science, or other credentials.

Several IT job listings—even if they’re for entry-level jobs—request that you have at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. That’s not to say that you should be discouraged if you don’t. But a certification here can be helpful to show employers you have the discipline to study, learn, and achieve a goal, and that you’re serious about the IT field.

6. Certifications are required for the job.

Some industries might require you to have specific certifications or else heavily prefer that you do. For example, you’ll need to get an approved certification to work in information assurance for the Department of Defense. Some IT consultancies may also prefer that you have related certifications in order to assure clients that their personnel are well-trained and capable.

When you might not need a certification

There are a lot of benefits to certifications—but here’s when you might find they reach their limits.

1. They’re not needed in your role.

About 51 percent of technology professionals don’t have a technical certification, according to a survey reported in the Dice 2023 Tech Salary Report [5]. Forty-eight percent of professionals reported that certifications weren’t needed in their roles. If you’re capable of performing your job well, have opportunities to learn new things, and feel content in your field of IT, IT certifications may not be high on your priority list.

2. You have plenty of hands-on experience.

The capacity to perform tasks up to standard will probably be the biggest asset in your job hunt. And a certification, at the end of the day, is simply a quick way to prove to employers that you have that capacity. If you’re confident that your past experience speaks for itself, you may be able to set aside pursuing a certification for now.


Take the next step in your IT career with Coursera

Getting a certification or a Professional Certificate can be a good way to enhance your skills and establish yourself in a growing field. If you’re ready to start today, consider the Google IT Support Professional Certificate. You'll learn key skills like computer assembly and wireless networking and how to use systems like Linux, Domain Name Systems, Command-Line Interface, and Binary Code. Upon completion, you'll have a shareable certificate from an industry leader in technology.

Article sources


Global knowledge. "IT Skills and Salary Report 2023-2024," Accessed January 24, 2024.

Keep reading

Updated on
Written by:

Editorial Team

Coursera’s editorial team is comprised of highly experienced professional editors, writers, and fact...

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.