Pay for IT Certs Down, Noncert Skills Up

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According to the latest quarterly edition of the “Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index” report from IT workforce research firm Foote Partners, pay for IT certifications went down an average of 2 percent during the third quarter, which ended Oct. 1. This marked the largest quarterly decline recorded by the firm since 2004. For the year overall, 129 surveyed certifications have dropped an average 1.2 percent in value.


Meanwhile, the report states, pay for noncertified IT skills increased 1.4 percent on average for the quarter and 4.8 percent in the past six months, which contributed to a 7 percent value increase over the last 12 months.


About 55,000 IT executives and professionals were surveyed for the report, with 51 percent receiving some form of tech skills pay as part of their overall compensation.


The survey states database, networking, project management, IT security, systems administration and engineering, and training and beginner categories of IT-certified skills have been poor performers over the past six months, showing losses of 1.6 percent to nearly 8 percent in average premium pay. Meanwhile, applications development and programming languages certifications, as well as Web development certifications, saw annual average premium pay increases of 4.9 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.


Among noncertified IT skills, enterprise business applications, applications development tools and platforms and Web/e-commerce development skills continue to perform well, garnering about 9 percent to 13 percent increases in value for the year ending Oct. 1, and 1.4 percent, 1.9 percent and 5.8 percent growth, respectively, for the third quarter of 2006.


David Foote, CEO and chief research officer for Foote Partners, said these numbers follow overall historical patterns in IT and certification.


“There’s been a major shift in jobs in IT over time,” Foote said. “Ten years ago, when you asked people what they were looking for in IT workers, they were very much hiring on mastery of technical skills. That goes back to the Internet years and maybe just before that, back when IT was kind of a cost center. What most of the companies wanted out of IT was productivity increases.”


In the decade since, Foote said, desired competencies in IT have moved more toward companies’ core business.


“The lines of business now run the part of IT that has to do with applications development and systems and the delivery of services and product to customers over the Internet,” Foote said. “They’ve taken control of everything but the back end of that transaction process.”


Foote identified the back end of this process as data and network security, which he said likely falls to a CIO. Meanwhile, he said other aspects of IT are falling to IT pros with more business acumen.


“The kind of people they would naturally hire into those roles would be people that not only have the technical skills but also understand the business, have a feel for the customer and the industry and can sit down at tables and help them to think about this stuff.”


This shift, he said, accounts for noncertified, business-focused IT skills growing in value, as certified IT skills values’ stagnate.


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