IT Professionals: Read This Article If You Think You're Dramatically Underpaid

By Juan Martinez Features PCmag

IT professionals have a lot to be thankful for in 2017. Salaries for professionals in the technology sector in the US and Canada increased 5.7 percent, or $3,958, over the past year—a stark difference between last year's two-percent decrease, according to a report by Global Knowledge. The average salary in the industry is now $88,640.

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Cloud computing professionals are the darlings of the IT industry. These lucky rascals make the most money out of all subject matter experts mentioned in the report in the US and Canada, with an average annual salary of $114,043. The second-highest paying field is cybersecurity, which pays $112,765 on average. Coming in third are project management (PM) professionals, who were paid $95,878 on average last year.

C-Level executives (CIOs and CTOs) in the US and Canada make approximately $151,000, while senior-level executives make $110,401 on average. Entry-level staffers make $61,402 on average and their direct bosses, mid-level professionals, make $84,513.

It's All about Certifications

The difference between salaries of certified and non-certified IT staff is 11.7 percent, which amounts to roughly $8,400. For IT decision makers, the gulf is even wider, amounting to a difference of $9,201 between those who have and have not gotten certified.

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Certified in Risk and Information Systems and Control (CRISC) certifications produce the highest-paying jobs in the US and Canada, with an average salary of $127,507. This is a two-spot and $6,000 increase compared to last year, when it was the third-highest paying certification. This certification is ideal for technologists who wish to work in the field of Risk Identification, Assessment, Response and Mitigation, and Control Monitoring and Reporting.

Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)-certified employees make $122,448 on average, the second-highest-paying profession tied to certifications. This is up two spots from last year but down approximately $1,000. These professionals are primarily focused on information security management and working with lines of business outside of IT to help align the company's technology and overall business goals.

AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate-certified employees make $119,085 on average. This is down one position and $4,000 compared to last year.

In terms of which grouping of certifications put you in the best position to make serious money, business architecture certifications lead to the highest-paying jobs in the US, the average of which is $125,950.

The Overall State of IT Employment

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said their businesses are slowly growing or significantly improving. As a result, almost 66 percent of respondents said their workloads are challenging and 40 percent said their workloads are the worst they have ever been.

If you're looking for a job, then know that cloud computing professionals are the most sought-after candidates in the market. Thirty-nine percent of respondents chose cloud computing as the technology area on which they expect their organization to focus in the coming year. You can't go wrong with cybersecurity and virtualization, either—the two of which are second and third on the list, respectively.

The 2017 IT Skills and Salary Survey was conducted online during the third quarter of 2016. The survey results mentioned in this article were taken from responses from more than 6,250 IT professionals in the US and Canada.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.