17 IT management certifications for IT leaders

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IT managers are often responsible not just for overseeing an organization’s IT infrastructure but overseeing its IT teams as well. To succeed, you need to understand the fundamentals of security, data storage, hardware, software, networking, and IT management frameworks — and how they all work together to deliver business value. Plus, you must be adept at managing teams, projects, and processes.

Certifications can lend credence to your ability to do these things. Which certs you’ll want to pursue will vary depending on the technologies you work with and the methodologies your organization employs. But whether you’re on the management track or have your eye on an IT management career, any one of these 17 IT management certifications should help give you a leg up in the industry.

Top 17 IT management certifications

  • AMA Certified Professional in Management
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified in Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
  • Certified Information Technology Manager (CITM)
  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  • COBIT 5 Foundation
  • CompTIA Network+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Information Technology Management and Leadership Professional (ITMLP)
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Six Sigma
  • TOGAF 9

AMA Certified Professional in Management

The AMA Certified Professional in Management isn’t an IT-specific certification, but it’s a great start for anyone interested in a management path. As an IT manager, you will need all the technical skills of an IT professional, but it’s also important to have the soft skills necessary for effective management. The certification is offered through the American Management Association and covers professional effectiveness, relationship management, business acumen, and analytical intelligence.

Exam fee: $450 plus a $50 application processing fee

Expiration: Three years

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

As an IT manager, you’ll be responsible for overseeing multiple IT projects during your career. The CAPM certification from the Project Management Institute (PMI) will demonstrate your ability to manage a product or service lifecycle. The CAPM is a generalized entry-level exam, so it’s a great place to start if you’re looking to add project management skills to your resume to help pave a future in IT management. The certification requires a secondary degree and 23 hours of project management education before you take the exam. If you’re further into your career and already have a background in project management, a higher-level certification such as the PMP (see below) might be a better fit for your IT management career path.

Exam fee: $225 for members, $300 for non-members

Expiration: Does not expire

For more information, see “CAPM certification: Cost, salary, training, and more.”

Certified in Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT)

The ISACA claims that IT professionals with a CGEIT certification are among the highest paid, citing an average salary of $141,000. This certification will show you’re capable of dealing with any security threats and that you’re well-versed on the requirements for IT governance. You’ll need at least five years’ experience in IT governance or management to qualify for the exam. Maintaining your certification also requires an annual maintenance fee of $45 for ISACA members and $85 for non-members.

Exam fee: $575 for ISACA members, $760 for non-members

Expiration: Every three years; at least 20 CPE hours annually and 120 CPE over the course of three-years

For more information, see “What is CGEIT? A certification for seasoned IT governance professionals.”

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

As an IT manager, you’ll need to be aware of risk management, which is why the Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) certification can be a valuable addition to your resume. Offered by the ISACA, the CRISC certification validates your ability to understand and mitigate enterprise IT risk using the latest best practices to identify, analyze, evaluate, assess, prioritize, and respond to risks. The exam covers topics such as IT governance, IT risk assessment, risk response and reporting, and information technology and security.

Exam fee: $575

Expiration: Does not expire

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)

The Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification from the ISACA verifies your knowledge and expertise in information security governance, program development and management, and incident and risk management. IT security is a growing priority for businesses and the CISM certification is often required by government agencies hiring IT workers. As an IT manager, you will need to have your pulse on enterprise IT security and the CISM certification can show you have the skills and knowledge to help the business stay secure and mitigate risk.

Exam fee: $575 for ISACA members and $760 for non-members

Expiration: Three years

Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)

Security is a main concern for the enterprise and once you start heading into management and leadership positions, it will become one of your top priorities. A CISSP certification from the ISC can demonstrate your knowledge and abilities around IT security and information assurance. The certification covers high-level topics such as organizational structure, budgeting, managing risk, monitoring and assigning deliverables, communicating with remote teams and executives, and managing complex large-scope projects.

Exam fee: $749

Expiration: Three years

Certified Information Technology Manager (CITM)

The Certified Information Technology Manager (CITM) certification offered by the Global Association for Quality Management (GAQM) is designed for management professionals who “wish to gain an in depth understanding of the management of information technology in the modern corporation.” The certification covers business frameworks, IT frameworks, software, database management, information systems, corporate IT strategy, corporate governance, risk, finance, and management of technology personnel. GAQM offers an e-course that takes 30 to 35 hours on average to complete that you can take prior to taking the exam.

Exam fee: $300 for the e-course and exam; $170 for the exam

Expiration: Does not expire

Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)

The CSM certification from Scrum Alliance is designed to certify you as a point person to help Scrum teams work efficiently. The CSM is responsible for leading the team, limiting distractions, and working across teams and departments to keep projects on track. It requires all the soft and hard skills IT managers need to effectively manage projects and teams. With the certification, you’ll receive a logo to showcase your credentials as well as a two-year membership with Scrum Alliance, which will give you access to online social networks, discounts on events and other resources.

Exam fee: Free for initial certification

Expiration: Two years

For more information, see “CSM certification: What you need to know.”

COBIT 5 Foundation

If your company subscribes to the COBIT 5 IT management framework, you might be interested in the ISACA’s COBIT 5 Foundation exam. The foundation and implementation exams will demonstrate your ability to understand IT challenges and how COBIT can be applied to fix organizational and process problems. It can demonstrate you have the management skills necessary to align IT goals with strategic business objectives, understand the value derived from IT, and are versed in the various types of IT governance frameworks. The COBIT exam is offered by a variety of vendors — some include training or bootcamp programs if you’re not familiar with COBIT 5, while others will let you just take the exam.

Exam fee: Varies by vendor

Expiration: Does not expire

CompTIA Network+

The CompTIA Network+ certification verifies you have the knowledge and skills to design, implement, configure, manage, and maintain networks and network devices. It also verifies you are capable of implementing network security, standards, and protocols and can troubleshoot network problems. While it’s not a management-specific certification, networking is a core skill for any IT professional and it will be a vital skill on your path to IT management. A new CompTIA Network+ N10-008 certification exam was released in September and the prior N10-007 exam, originally released in 2018, is set to retire in June 2022. The exam was updated and reorganized to cover topics such as critical security concepts, key cloud computing best practices, new hardware and virtualization techniques, and the most recent skills needed to keep networks resilient. 

Exam fee: $338

Expiration: Three years

CompTIA Project+

CompTIA’s Project+ certification is a high-level exam designed for “professionals who need to manage smaller, less complex projects as part of their other job duties but still have foundational project management skills.” It’s a versatile certification that covers multiple methodologies, frameworks, and management concepts — best suited for those who coordinate or manage small-to-midsize projects. The certification validates your ability and knowledge with managing project life cycles, change management, managing resources and stakeholders, and maintaining appropriate communication and documentation.

Exam fee: $338

Expiration: Does not expire

For additional project management certs, see our roundup of top project management certs.

Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)

The ITIL framework from Axelos is a cornerstone in IT service, and if your organization subscribes to the methodology, a certification will help prove your ITIL 4 expertise. It’s a great certification for IT managers because it focuses heavily on implementing effective management strategies to improve team efficiency and to improve organizational processes. You can be certified up to the expert level, which demonstrates high competency in ITIL 4 best practices. Like the COBIT 5 certification, you’ll have to find a third-party vendor that offers an accredited program or exam. Prices will vary depending on the company or training provider you choose.

Exam fee: Varies, depending on vendor

Expiration: Does not expire

For a deeper look at the ITIL cert, see “ITIL certification: Mastering IT services management.” 

Information Technology Management and Leadership Professional (ITMLP)

The Information Technology Management and Leadership Professional (ITMLP) certification offered by the IT Management and Leadership Institute was designed to validate your skills and abilities as an IT manager. The certification includes a three-day boot camp that covers topics such as technical leadership, managing hybrid and virtual IT teams, creating innovative IT solutions, IT funding and cost management, vendor management, and client services. At the boot camp you’ll also learn more about IT trends including digital transformation, virtual and augmented reality, big data, machine learning, DevOps, cybersecurity, and more. It’s best suited for CIOs, IT executives, current or future IT managers, project managers, and business analysts.

Exam fee: $1,995

Expiration: Does not expire

PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)

IT managers and leaders who rely on the agile framework will benefit from a PMI-ACP certification. This certification demonstrates your ability to work on or lead an agile team. It covers Scrum, Kanban, Lean, extreme programming (XP), and test-driven development (TDD). To qualify for the exam, you will need a secondary degree, 21 contact hours of training in agile practices and eight months of agile project experience within the past five years. You’ll also need at least 12 months of general project experience within the past five years but if you already have a PMP or PgMP certification, that will also satisfy this requirement.

Exam fee: $435 for members, $495 for non-members

Expiration: Three years

For additional agile-related certs, see our roundup of agile certs to take your career to the next level.

Project Management Professional (PMP)

If you already have a strong background in project management, you might want to consider PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. The PMP exam requires extensive experience and a background in project management, which makes it more difficult to obtain. You will need a four-year degree, 36 months of experience leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certification. You can also qualify for the exam with a high school diploma or associate’s degree, 60 months experience leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education or a CAPM certification.

Exam fee: $405 for PMI members, $555 for non-members

Expiration: Three years

For more information, see “PMP certification: How to ace the Project Management Professional exam.”

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