Certifications Versus Skills

IT certifications are still valuable in the job market, but they don’t enjoy the lead they once had over non-certified technical skills in terms of premium pay and demand, new research from Foote Partners LLC shows. According to the company’s statistics, a single certification now accounts for about 8.3 percent of base pay, whereas a single non-certified skill comprises 7.1 percent of income.

“I think certifications have taken a real hit lately, and predictably so,” said David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of Foote Partners. “We saw this a year ago, but we didn’t want to report it until we had the data. We saw that over the past six months, from a growth perspective, they’re really losing ground. But they’re still worth more.”

Of course, there are exceptions to this general trend. High-level certifications from the Project Management Institute, ISACA, (ISC)2 and the SANS Institute—as well as specialist credentials like those for IBM WebSphere and Cisco’s Voice technologies—are still highly regarded, and the people who have them are well compensated. “Some of them really matter a lot,” Foote said. “Just try to get a job at the director or manager level in security. You probably won’t.”

Foote pointed out that the popularity of certifications is a relatively recent phenomenon, one that came about as a means of justification for technology investments during the hard times earlier in the decade. “During the recession, it was very different. You were in a situation where companies’ purse strings…



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