IT workers lose out on certifications pay

IT workers have not been paid the premiums they had received in the past for certifications, an IT workforce research firm has...

IT workers have not been paid the premiums they had received in the past for certifications, an IT workforce research firm has claimed.

Overall certification pay was down 4.1% in the first six months of 2003, and nearly 6% over the previous 12 months, said David Foote, president of Foote Partners. The research firm tracks 35,000 IT professionals in 66 North American cities and nine European countries.

"We're hearing from companies that they're done paying for certifications. They feel that people should be lucky to have jobs," he said. 

However, the added training still matters, Foote said. Companies are saying that workers are still more valuable to them if they stay up to date with their certifications. 

"Many managers continue to support the notion that certification is a more meaningful normative measure for comparing IT workers than untested or self-reported skills competency," Foote said. 

Managers said they can also argue more successfully for money for employee training when they can guarantee certifications in return, he added. 

IT workers who keep their skills up to date through recertification or broaden their knowledge by adding complementary skills, such as security certifications for systems administrators or Unix specialists adding Linux certifications, are more likely to receive pay raises than those who don't, Foote said. 

Leading the decline in certifications premium pay in 2003 were webmaster/Internet certifications, down 13% in the first six months of 2003 and 21% in the past 12 months; database certifications, down 6.5% in 2003 and 14.7% from mid-2002; and beginner certifications such as Microsoft Certified Professional, Certified Computing Professional and A+, down 13.6% so far this year and down 14% in the past 12 months, according to Foote. 

"Still strong in 2003 are popular project management, security and systems administrations/engineering and network operating systems certs, which have, on average, increased in value 6.7%, 2.3% and 1.5% respectively in the past 12 months," Foote said. 

Leading the certification charge are those related to Linux, security auditing, Unix and Windows administration specialities, and infosecurity management, Foote said, adding that skills and certifications showing the strongest growth so far this year include Linux, security, XML and VoiceXML, and voice over IP. 

"Database and enterprise application skills continue to pay well above the average for all certs surveyed," he said. "But it's rapid application development and extreme programming skills that have paid the handsomest every quarter for the past two years."

Linda Rosencrance writes for Computerworld

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