5 Certifications That Pay Well

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If you’ve spent any amount of time getting to know Climb — reading through our Team Page or checking out our Mission Video — you’re pretty familiar with our goals. We want to help people reach their own goals in a financially responsible way, instead of sending them off on high-cost, low-opportunity career paths. And so far, our efforts have been working:

Median salary increase for Climb school graduates:


Median pay increase for second job after Climb:


What are some examples of the best professional certifications you can get to increase your salary (either through salary negotiation, promotion, or by entering a whole new job) and grow your career? Check out these five lucrative skills below, plus some schools where you can get your certification!

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Software development

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2016–26 job outlook for software developers is 24% growth, or “much faster than average,” with a median salary of $105,590 in 2018.

Where you can get certified:

  • General Assembly
  • Flatiron School
  • App Academy
  • Hack Reactor
  • Galvanize
  • Turing School of Software & Design
  • Alchemy Code Lab
  • Software Guild
  • Academy at Suncoast Developers Guild
  • 4Geeks Academy
  • CodeWorks Boise
  • Codesmith
  • Code Fellows
  • Claim Academy
  • Byte Academy
  • devCodeCamp
  • Grand Circus Detroit
  • Eleven Fifty Academy
  • Nashville Software School
  • Momentum Learning
  • PunchCode
  • Prime Digital Academy
  • The Firehose Project
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Certified information systems security professional

According to the BLS, the IT field is expected to grow “13 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.”

Where you can get certified:

  • LeaderQuest
  • New Horizons Career Development Solution
  • New Horizons South Florida
  • New Horizons Orlando
  • PC Professor
  • The Academy of South Florida
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Certified ethical hacker

PayScale.com lists a median income for ethical hackers of $78,093 per year. On top of that, the BLS indicates that information security analysts (which includes ethical hackers) can expect to see jobs increase by 28% from 2016–26 — four times the national average growth rate of 7% for the same time period!

Where you can get a cybersecurity certification:

  • Springboard
  • Evolve Security Academy
  • Atlantis University
  • The Learning Center
  • SecureSet
  • New Horizons Orlando
  • New Horizons South Florida
  • New Horizons Knoxville
  • LeaderQuest
  • Northeast Technical Institute
  • University of Denver
  • PC Professor
  • UNC Charlotte
  • TurnToTech
  • Carolina Career College
  • QuickStart
Certifications That Pay Well

Project management professional (PMP)

Certified PMPs earn about 20% more than their non-certified counterparts — while the median salary for a non-certified PMP in the US is $91,000, earning a certification increases that median salary to $111,000.

Where you can get certified:

  • New Horizons Knoxville
  • New Horizons Orlando
  • LeaderQuest
  • The Academy of South Florida
  • The Learning Center
Certifications That Pay Well


Airline pilots, copilots and flight engineers in 2018 had a median wage of $169,560, while commercial pilots earned a median salary of $96,530. In addition, the US will soon be in demand of many more pilots — according to Boeing’s market outlook, 790,000 new pilots will be needed between 2018 and 2037.

Where you can get certified:

  • All American Aviation Services
  • Blue Line Aviation

1Based on 3,506 Climb student graduate survey response.
2Based on 952 survey responses in which graduates informed Climb they’ve held two different jobs since leaving their program.

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