Salary Survey Extra: Spreading the word about certification

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

How do you find out about IT certifications?Way back before the internet, in the early 1990s, you couldn’t just drop a few tweets about your better mousetrap, or post a video on YouTube, and then just sit back and wait for the world to beat a path to your door. Frightful as it is in 2016 to imagine such dark days, it used to take actual legwork, or at least phone-and-media-release-work, to spread the word about whatever amazing new product needed an introduction to the world.

Getting the word out remains a tough nut to crack in the IT certification realm. There are literally hundreds of IT certifications on the market — some certification providers get close to triple digits all by themselves — and the rapid pace of evolving technology means that new credentials are needed at about the same rate that older ones disappear.

We listed more than 800 certifications in our annual Salary Survey and probably didn’t come close to covering them all. So given the level of market saturation, what does it take to connect with potential certificants? People have to know that a certification is out there, after all, before they can even make a decisions about whether it meets their needs.

A familiar question on our survey asks respondents to tell us how they generally find out about certification opportunities. And it turns out that the people doing the most effective 21st-century impersonation of an Old West street barker are … employers. That’s right, not certification vendors, IT associations, or industry conferences and conventions. People are most likely to find out about cert from their boss.

“Referred by my employer” was named by 41 percent of those surveyed in response to the question, “How have you most often been made aware of certification opportunities in the past?” The question permits multiple responses, so this won’t add up to a tidy 100 percent, but here’s how the field shakes out:

Referred by my Employer — 41.6 percent
Internet Search — 38.6 percent
Referred by a Friend or Acquaintance — 30.3 percent
Industry Publication or Website — 28.8 percent
Industry Convention or Conference — 25.6 percent
Vendor Promotional Materials — 16.5 percent
Other — 8.5 percent
Career Counseling — 8.4 percent
High School or College Course — 2.8 percent

People naturally use self-directed internet searches to a greater degree than every other option. (How did we ever find anything before Google?) Even surfing the web, however, doesn’t beat a cue from management.

What do IT pros think about climate change? CAN YOU FEEL YOUR TEMPERATURE RISING?  It’s an election year, so everyone is on about politics and hot-button issues. When asked about the possibility of climate change, many people, including some politicians, decline to answer on ground of not being a scientist. IT professionals aren’t all scientists, but we’re pretty certain that most of you are darn smart.

So what’s the consensus opinion among certified IT professionals? Is catastrophic climate change, you know, real or made up? Here’s what we learned:

Real, but we can still beat this thing if we work together and trust in human ingenuity. — 57.9 percent
Something Al Gore invented after he was done creating the internet. — 17.2 percent
Real, but I kind of hope I last long enough to see whether the future is more like The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. — 10.5 percent
Real, but can’t we look on the bright side? Surf’s up! — 10.1 percent
Real, but what do I care if my grandkids live in caves and eat whatever they can kill with their bare hands? — 4.3 percent

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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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