As a corporate trainer, I spend many days teaching students how to prepare for certification exams. These individuals are fortunate because the companies that hire me pay for the entire training, including all the materials. I enjoy doing this type of work because the students are motivated to earning a professional credential. It’s great when I receive an email from a student who has just passed an exam. This is what makes my work gratifying.

Here are the professional certifications that I recommend to my students: Project Management Professional (PMP)®, ITIL Foundations v3, and Agile Scrum. In fact, I refer to these three as the Iron Triangle. The advantage of these credentials is that they are industry agnostic. In other words, they will benefit you regardless of the industry where you work.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®

The PMP® is considered the Gold Standard in the project management industry, and it doesn’t matter where you live because the Project Management Institute (PMI) is an international organization. To qualify, candidates with a 4-year degree must have 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects; those without a 4-year degree must show 7,5000 of leading and directing projects. The exam is 4 hours in length and consists of 200 questions. The test is difficult, and I recommend taking a prep course so that you’re well prepared. The average salary in the United States for a PMP is $109,000. There’s no doubt that you will have more opportunities after earning this in-demand project management credential.

ITIL Foundations v3

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), and we are currently teaching Version 3. While this is a technology-related credential, even non-techies should consider it. In fact, I teach this course to account managers, marketing analysts, budget coordinators, event planners, and so on. In a nutshell, ITIL pertains to IT Service Management, and focuses on how Business and IT can work together to provide value to the customer. The candidates are allowed 1-hour to take a 40-question exam, and the passing score is 65% or 26 questions correct. ITIL-certified individuals can expect to earn roughly $75,000 annually.

Agile Scrum

Agile Scrum has taken off in recent years. Agile is the preferred approach for IT-related projects because flexibility is required. For example, software projects are unpredictable, and change is necessary. The Scrum team must embrace changes, which means the customer is not charged for these updates. In fact, the work is completed in two-week sprints. The core Scrum team includes the Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Development Team. This group delivers business value after each sprint, and provides a demo to the key stakeholders. Based on this feedback, the next sprint is planned. I recommend taking a Scrum Master 2-day course that includes the certification exam. The Scrum Master credential can earn more than $70,000 in the market.

With good planning, these three certifications can be earned in one year. Make sure to find out if this training is offered in your organization. If not, you can find the classes in the open market, both face-to-face and online delivery. Even if your company fails to reimburse for the class and exam, I recommend that you pursue them. Remember that this is an investment in your future, and you will reap the benefits.