Salary Survey Extra: More [Fill in the blank] vendor-neutral certs, please!

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Salary Survey respondents want more vendor-neutral certs that address key technologies.Generally speaking, most people want to have options. It’s never a good feeling to realize that there’s only one course of action available, whatever the situation. We all want to feel like we can choose between multiple potential resolutions to a problem, or that there are various paths open to achieving a desired goal.

In the IT certification world, software solutions are often proprietary. If you want to learn about — or, more importantly, become certified in — a particular technology, then options are sometimes limited to companies, often called “vendors,” that specialize in that technology. Maybe you can learn general principles that apply in the use of those products, but you can’t really make them your own (so to speak) without certification.

Sometimes “vendor-specific” certs are so tied up in a given product or solution that interested professionals don’t gain much ground in a particular technology outside the direct application of those products or solutions. In other cases, certifications are branded by a particular vendor, but address principles that are widely applicable outside that vendor’s family of products.

Especially in cases where certification is viewed as an alternative to more traditional educational approaches, however, tech learners often want certs that aren’t limited by begin tied to a given product line or proprietary solution. Such “vendor-neutral” certifications are viewed as providing a solid foundation for further exploration. You gain the basic skills needed to move between various products and technologies in a particular sector of the wider IT realm.

Vendor-neutral certification are typically offered by tech industry associations such as, for example, CompTIA, ISACA, (ISC)², or the Linux Foundation. There are quite a few vendor-neutral credentials in some areas, and far fewer options in others. Which got us to thinking: Where are certified IT professionals looking for vendor-neutral credentials and not finding them?

We ended up making that topic part of our most recent Salary Survey. Where is there the greatest demand among IT professionals for vendor-neutral credentials? Here’s what we learned:

Q: We really need more vendor-neutral certifications for which ONE of the following specializations or technologies?

Security — 27.2 percent
Cloud — 21.4 percent
Big Data — 14.8 percent
Programming — 8.3 percent
Networking — 7.5 percent
Project Management — 5.8 percent
Linux — 3.2 percent
Helpdesk — 2.5 percent
Other — 9.3 percent

It’s at least a little odd that security is at the top of that list. Between the likes of (ISC)², ISACA, EC-Council, and the SANS Institute (to name just a few), options abound for those seeking vendor-neutral security credentials.

The second item on the list makes more sense. Cloud certifications tend to be scarce just generally speaking, and quite a few of the ones that do exist, such as those offered by Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, are geared toward proprietary cloud technology. The same is largely true of the Big Data realm. Again, general coverage certs are few. Most of what’s out there is tied to particular vendors.

Programming is an area where certification scarcely exists outside of Oracle’s family of Java credentials, so there’s definitely room for growth there.

Finally, here are a few of the top recommendations drawn from the catch-all “Other” category, which included an option for survey respondent suggestions: GRC, digital forensics, Blockchain, application delivery (or development), artificial intelligence/machine learning, and DevOps.

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CertMag Staff

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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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