As demand for IT professionals continues to skyrocket, you might be left wondering which qualifications may net you the highest income.

For its latest IT Skills and Salary Report, edtech Skillsoft surveyed over 9,300 IT professionals around the world about the size of their pay packets and what qualifications they have.

Respondents from North America reported the highest IT salaries with Google Certified cloud architects and data engineers picking up the highest pay cheques, both averaging around $218,000 (US$160,000) a year.

In Asia-Pacific the reported salaries were significantly lower and geared more toward risk management and cyber security.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) was the highest paid certification in our region with an average salary of $133,000 (US$98,000), closely followed Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

The top-paying certifications according to Skillsoft's 2021 IT Skills and Salary Report (in USD). Image: Skillsoft

Michael Yoo, Skillsoft’s General Manager of Technology and Developer, said the large-scale shifts towards a digital economy has “presented significant opportunities for organisations”.

“However, it has also created a dire need for new skills in cloud computing, cyber security, AI, DevOps, and many other critical tech areas,” he said.

“Gaps in skills don’t just disappear, they only grow wider if not properly addressed. While it is encouraging to see early signs of closing the gap, work is far from done.”

Cyber security is the most in-demand field for organisations, with IT decision-makers reporting that security is their number one concern.

“IT professionals in this field are the most sought-after and cause the biggest headache for IT decision-makers who need to fill these positions,” the Skillsoft report said.

“This challenge remains constant on a global scale.”

Second-most wanted are cloud computing professionals which 28 per cent of IT managers globally said were still a scarce commodity.

“Cloud adoption rates are outpacing training, so IT decision-makers are struggling to find the right individuals to keep up with evolving technology needs,” the Skillsoft report said.

“This is troubling because organisations have already invested heavily in cloud programs and services, and they need cloud architects, administrators, and other experts to ensure those investments pay off.”

Data analytics and machine learning specialists are also in high demand.

This year’s survey saw a large majority of decision-makers reporting a gap between the skills they want or need, and those held by their existing employees.

When asked what was causing this, the most common response was that the rate of technological change exceeds skills development programs – but there are also just not enough highly skilled people in the market to meet every organisation’s needs.

“The sad truth is that the talent pool in competitive areas just isn’t big enough,” the report said.

“Even when candidates are identified, 35 per cent of respondents report that they don’t have the budget to attract them and 25 per cent can’t pay what these in-demand candidates want.”

Most IT managers surveyed said they were going to deal with the skills gap problem by upskilling or reskilling existing staff.