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Best Storage Certifications

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

Credit: ShutterstockCredit: Shutterstock

There's no question 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. Also, IT professionals interested in data center or network backbone-related positions are likely to need strong storage chops.

Average salaries for storage engineers are consistent (and lucrative) across several job-related websites. For example, SimplyHired reports that the average nationwide salary is about $106,000, in a range starting at $76,621 and climbing just higher than $147,000. Glassdoor puts the national average salary at $90,000, with the low end of the range at about $64,000 and the high end close to $118,000.

In some ways, the state of storage certification perfectly mirrors in a single subject area (or perhaps a closely clustered collection of related subjects) what occurs across the full spectrum of information technology. 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 Brocade, Cisco, Dell EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), HPE, NetApp and Sun/Oracle, 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 that they'd like to interact with for prospective employers).

How is a storage-minded IT professional supposed to pick a winner here? Name recognition is one factor. Big-name/big company certifications 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 (in alphabetical order, by certification)*

Certification
SimplyHiredIndeedLinkedInLinkup.com
Total
Brocade storage certifications208
221
109
88
620
CCNP Data Center (Cisco)1,102
1,184
730
534
3,550
HDS Storage Administration (Hitachi)39
42
27
5
113
NCDA (NetApp)52
59
49
28
188
SNIA certifications
27
30
15
8
80

*See our complete methodology for selecting top five certifications in the "Best Certifications" series.

Based on name recognition and job board surveys, our pics for 2018 are with Brocade, Cisco, HDS, NetApp and SNIA. The following sections explore each of the certifications and/or programs.