Information technology (IT) professionals are placing their bets on security-themed certifications as they plot their next career moves, a new study from CompTIA, the leading trade association for the IT industry, reveals.

The CompTIA survey of more than 1,500 IT workers found that 37 percent intend to pursue a security certification over the next five years. Another 18 percent of IT workers said they will seek ethical hacking certifications during the same time period, while 13 percent identified forensics as their next certification target. The results are included in the CompTIA study IT Training and Certification: Insights and Opportunities.

“Given the growing reach of security, with threats becoming more pervasive and dangerous and with no business or industry immune to those threats, it makes sense that many IT professionals view this as a must-have for career advancement,” said Terry Erdle, senior vice president, skills certifications, CompTIA.

Other technology areas where survey respondents said they will seek new certifications over the next five years include green IT, healthcare IT, mobile and software-as-a-service.

Economic advancement and personal growth are key drivers for seeking IT certifications, the CompTIA study also reveals. Eighty-eight percent of certification holders indicated they pursue a certification to enhance their résumé. An identical 88 percent said personal growth is a major or minor reason in their decision to pursue a certification.

IT workers are willing to invest the time and resources necessary to advance their career by adding new certifications to their credentials. On average, candidates for an IT certification spend 44.5 hours studying and preparing to sit for an exam; and approximately one in three individuals spend 60 or more hours preparing. Fifty percent of IT certification holders pay for the exams themselves, while 38 percent rely on an employer to cover the exam fee.

“This confirms that many professionals are truly committed to the IT field and take pride in developing their skills and showcasing their expertise,” Erdle said.

The web-based survey was completed by 1,537 IT professionals during the period from July 13 through July 31. Survey participants were primarily from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.