Best Storage Certifications In 2017

These storage certifications are in demand in 2016. Find the most valuable storage certification for your career path on Tom's IT Pro.

For several years, storage-related certifications have loomed large and impressive in a variety of employer and job market surveys. Additionally, IT professionals interested in data center or-related positions are likely to need strong storage chops. There's no doubt that skills and knowledge related to various networked forms of storage — such as storage area networks (SANs), network-attached storage (NAS), virtualized storage, and even storage as a service (STaaS) — are in high demand.

Average salaries for storage engineers are fairly consistent (and lucrative) across several job-related websites. For example, SimplyHired reports that the average nationwide salary is $102,000, in a range starting at $74,217 and climbing upward of $140,000. With the low end of the range at about $65,000 and the high end close to $135,000,glassdoor puts the national average salary at $99,000.

The state of storage certification perfectly mirrors in a single subject area what occurs across the full spectrum of information technology in some ways. There are some vendor-neutral storage certifications available, particularly those from the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and Arcitura, while there are also numerous vendor-specific storage credentials available from vendors that offer storage systems and solutions, including Cisco, Brocade, D-Link, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), HP (H3C), NetApp, Sun/Oracle and Symantec, among others.

Like other IT certifications, vendor-neutral credentials recognize broad competency in design, implementation and management, while vendor-specific programs tend to match up with technologies active IT professionals interact with in the workplace (or what they'd like to interact with for future or prospective employers).

How is a storage-minded IT professional supposed to pick a winner here?

Name recognition is one factor. Those certifications also tend to have a higher number of certified individuals, lending more credibility to the certification itself.

Popularity with employers is another consideration when selecting a certification. In our informal survey we searched several online job sites on a given day for specific storage certifications. Note that the Cisco CCNP swamps the other certifications because its coverage goes well beyond storage. (The CCNP Data Center specialization does involve storage to some degree, but it does not focus specifically or only on storage.)

Job Board Search Results

Certification SimplyHired Indeed LinkedIn TechCareers Total
BPIPA 28 30 22 5 85
CCNP Data Center 1,399 1,571 1,585 163 4,718
EMCSA 28 28 0 6 62
NCDA 118 157 106 31 412
36 29 14 4 83

Based on name recognition and job board surveys, our pics for 2017 are with Brocade, Cisco, EMC, NetApp and SNIA. The following sections explore each of the certifications, in no particular order.