Foote Study Shows Turnaround in IT Salaries

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A new report released by research firm Foote Partners LLC shows a rebound in certified and non-certified tech workers’ incomes following a three-year slide. The Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index involved approximately 46,000 IT professionals in more than 150 specialties working in North America and Europe.


Staff retention issues, increased levels of competition, more stringent employer requirements for certain areas of expertise, corporate mergers and acquisitions, fusion of various IT job roles and new government regulations were cited as some of the factors behind the salary turnaround. According to David Foote, president and chief research officer of Foote Partners, traditional job titles have become irrelevant as IT skills and tasks have become far more specialized and variable.


The report shows that average pay for non-certified IT skills grew 1 percent in 2004, but has experienced a net loss of 18 percent over the past three years. The hottest non-certified specialties—areas which had more than 25 percent growth—were IBM’s WebSphere, Microsoft .NET and SQL Windows. Project-level security, storage/SAN and VoIP are the highest-paying skills for non-certified professionals. XML, Linux, Java and Windows XP were among the major cold or cooling competencies in this category.


In the certified skills arena, the study showed that average overall income increased almost 4 percent in 2004, and had a net loss of only 4 percent in the past three years. By category, the certifications that grew substantially last year were networking, system administration and engineering/network OS skills, and applications development and programming languages, while those that lost value were beginner credentials, project management, and Web and Internet skills.


Hot certifications included Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE): Security, HP/Compaq Accredited Systems Engineer (ASE), and both Sun Certified Systems Administrator and Sun Certified Network Administrator for Solaris. Project Management Professional (PMP), CompTIA’s Network+ and Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) were a few of the cooling and cold credentials listed in the study.


Readers can draw a lesson from the comparison the increases and decreases in overall income levels for certified and non-certified IT professionals in the study. Over the past three years (the business end of the recession), the net loss in income for certified professionals was less than a quarter of that of non-certified workers. In addition, the recent salary turnaround was nearly four times higher for certified professionals. As it turns out, Washington, Lincoln. Hamilton, Jackson, Grant and Franklin probably make one of the most persuasive arguments for certification.


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