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5 Professional Certifications that Offer a Great Return on Investment
Professional certifications are one way to keep furthering your knowledge and skills, potentially setting you in line for promotions and advancement that may otherwise take much longer to achieve. However, not all professional certifications are created equal, with each one’s return on investment depending on the economy at the time. The following list is a collection of professional certifications that are a good idea to grab onto at this time, and in a variety of industries.

Certified Financial Planner


This professional certification designates the owner as being competent and skilled in the area of finance, and is often a necessity for many jobs. A bachelor’s degree and extensive work in the field are the minimum qualifications, and those working towards the certification must also complete curricula equalling 18 semester credit hours, master 100 areas of financial planning, and pass the CFP Certification Examination (10 hours, 285 questions).

Return on Investment: The exam is $600 and the biennial dues are $325, but a financial planner’s average salary is $104,000.

Series 7 Exam


This certification is a must for anyone planning to sell securities (aka a stockbroker). The exam is six hours long with 260 questions, 250 of which count towards the final score. To pass, exam takers have to get a score of at least 72%, and then they’re granted a Series 7/General Securities license. But applicants have to also be previously qualified with either a Series 63 or 66 license, which is dependent on the state.

Return on Investment: The exam costs $290, with a stockbroker’s average salary of $100,910 a year.

HP Vertica


Interested in big data analytics? System admins, app developers and database analysts all know this intermediate-level certification looks really good on their resume, helping them climb the corporate ladder a little faster than normal. Interested applicants need to have 1 to 3 years scripting and Linux experience, 3 to 6 months Vertica experience, 3 to 4 years relational database experience, and deep knowledge of SQL before they can write the 90-minute, 50-question exam — and score a minimum of 70%.

Return on Investment: The exam costs $100, and big data workers’ average salary is $115,000 (with knowledge of NoSQL or Hadloop).

CompTIA A+


On the other side of technology is hardware, and the A+ certification is almost a necessity for anyone looking to get ahead in the field if they want to be thought of as a credible PC tech support specialist. Applicants don’t need any special minimum requirements, just lab or field experience, and must write two separate 90-question, 90-minute exams.

Return on Investment: Each exam is $183, and the average salary of a PC tech specialist is $48,900 with a projected job growth of 17%.

Advanced Professional Certificate in Law & Business


This course, offered by New York University, is designed for J.D. students looking to specialize in corporate law. The almost two-month course covers 15 credit hours of graduate business study and trains students to become skilled in the convergence of business and law without having to take an MBA.

Return on Investment: The course costs $17,445 for nine credit hours, and the average starting salary of a corporate lawyer is $105,000 for a law firm with 101-250 lawyers; $125,000 for law firms with 251-500 lawyers; $120,000 for law firms with 501-700 lawyers; and $160,000 for law firms with 700+ lawyers.

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