Dear Certmag: How much is my cert worth?

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I recently earned a certification in e-discovery from Kroll Ontrack, which is my firm’s primary vendor for this need. My review is coming up, and I was wondering what this certification is worth to my firm? I typically get the same percentage raise every year, but [now I have this certification, and] my position has changed so much over the four years I have been here. Please advise as to what percentage or bonus I should ask for, if any.
– Greg

Answer 1:

I can’t advise you on precisely how much you should ask for just for completing a certification for two reasons. First, professional certifications should reflect and validate job skills, so part of your wage increase or bonus should be based on your skills. Second, wage increases vary quite a lot from state to state and from country to country, especially in different industries.

However, since you have stated your job role has changed quite a lot during the past four years, I would look at what you used to do and compare it to what you do now. Then try to negotiate your wage based on that.

I also would take into consideration the following points when negotiating a wage increase: the current credit crunch affecting the economy; any training courses or exams your employer has put you through; if this course or certificate directly relates to your current job role; and any other responsibilities you’re willing to undertake.

At the same time, you have to raise the following points with your employer: the current wage for similarly certified and experienced personnel in your position; the cost to the company of replacing you (including in-house training time for the job, costs of any required external training or certification, the possibility of hiring the wrong person); and any other responsibilities that your employer may wish to give you.

The point of this exercise is not to try to threaten to leave if you do not get everything you ask for, but to come to some sort of compromise so both parties are happy with the outcome of the negotiations. You as an employee have to feel valued for the work you do as an individual, and your employer has to feel it is getting value for its money.
I wish you good luck, and I hope you get a wage that reflects your new job role and responsibilities.

Answer 2:

Congratulations on completing this certification program. While this is certainly an accomplishment, this particular credential in e-discovery unfortunately is not well-adopted by the industry at large. These kinds of vendor-specific credentials focus on the particular needs and systems of the underlying product, and often they are intended to provide employers with specific capabilities they need. Therefore, the value this credential can add to your career is highly specific to your employer.

As such, these kinds of credential efforts often don’t allow you to negotiate a salary increase as strongly as a more widely accepted credential such as the CISA, CISSP or broader security certifications.

The Kroll Ontrack e-discovery certification is one of the first dedicated credentials in the e-discovery space. In a firm dedicated to e-discovery or archival services, there is a direct relationship between obtaining this credential and enhancing your ability to perform paid services for clients. This would be similar to the way in which an engineer or developer could use the CCNA or MCPD, respectively, to enhance a salary discussion.

I would advise you to position this credential more as a part of your overall achievement for the year in combination with your other work efforts. By concentrating on the new or enhanced skills that you can use to mitigate risk or cut costs, you can engage management in a strong review discussion.”


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CertMag Staff


Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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