IT Skills Yield Premium Pay-Certifications, Not So Much

Don Tennant
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IT Certifications Around the World - Differences in Numbers and Popularity

Open your global mind, so you can make a smarter decision toward your next certification.

True or false: Noncertified IT skills are less valuable than those that carry a certification. It may not surprise you too much that the answer is "false." But what you might not expect is that noncertified IT skills actually tend to be more valuable than those in which you can spend your time and money to be certified.


That's the upshot according to the "IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index" for the fourth quarter of 2010 from IT research firm Foote Partners, which monitors pay premiums for 241 noncertified IT skills and 225 IT certifications. In fact, the noncertified list posted a fourth consecutive quarterly pay gain, while pay premiums for the certified list declined for the 17th time in the last 18 quarters.


Foote Partners' research found that premium pay for the noncertified skills increased 0.4 percent for the fourth quarter and 3 percent for the year. The noncertified skills categories that drew the largest pay increases were Database, Applications Development Tools, SAP/ERP, Web/E-commerce and Methodology/Process/Management. Premium pay for the list of certified skills, meanwhile, dropped 0.9 percent for the quarter, and was down 2.1 percent in the second half of the year. The certified skills categories with the largest decreases in premium pay were Applications Development, IT Security, Networking and Communications, Architecture/Project Management/Process and entry-level certifications.


Among the highest-paying noncertified IT skills were:


  • SAP FI-FSCM (Financial Supply Chain Management)
  • RAD/Agile Programming/Extreme Programming
  • Microsoft .NET
  • Project Management
  • Network Security Management
  • Unified Communications/Messaging
  • Linux
  • Oracle DB


And among the highest-paying certified IT skills:


  • Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for Java
  • Oracle Database Administrator Certified Master
  • Project Management Professional
  • CyberSecurity Forensic Analyst
  • Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert
  • HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer


Some of the IT certifications that showed the greatest decline in premium pay during the fourth quarter vs. the third quarter were:


  • Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator
  • Certified Wireless Network Administrator
  • Sun Certified Java Associate
  • GIAC Certified Incident Manager
  • Microsoft Certified Database Administrator
  • Microsoft Certified Trainer
  • Project Management Professional

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