Survey: IT Pros Report Certs Led to New Jobs, Raises

Susan Hall
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Top 15 Tech Certifications in Today's Market

Back in July, I wrote about a survey by the career website Information Security Leaders that found that security pros believe certifications are necessary to advance in their careers, regardless of whether that's true.


Meanwhile, reflecting some jitters about the economy, premium pay for certified and non-certified skills tracked by analyst firm Foote Partners dropped during the second quarter, further fueling the debate about the value of certifications.


Yet in a new survey, 60 percent of IT pros said certifications led to a new job and half said certs boosted their salaries. In the poll of 700 network professionals by Network World and vendor SolarWinds, 40 percent said their pay grew by more than 10 percent directly because of a certification and 29 percent said a cert led to a promotion.


Interestingly enough, only 8 percent said certifications were required by their jobs and only 11 percent said that earning a certification lead to a raise in their current job. Half said they pursued certifications in order to get a new job, with respondents leaving comments like these:

My company wanted a Microsoft-certified IT manager, so the MCSA [Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator] helped me get the job I am currently in.


I was able to stay working for a defense contractor when one contract expired by moving to a different contract due to the certifications I held.

The highest-paid IT professionals, those making $110,000 or more a year, also have more experience, more education and generally more difficult certifications. Yet they were as likely as their lower-wage compatriots to report that certifications led to a raise, bonus, new job or promotion. However, the article warns that not all certs are held in equal esteem. In the survey of networking professionals, it was interesting to note that Cisco certs were deemed both the most and least valuable.


And Craig Norborg, a network engineer for Trowbridge & Trowbridge in Albuquerque, N.M., warns that companies look askance at young job candidates with lots of certs:

If you get them too early, people think they're book certs. If you get them too late, you're just proving what you already know, which may not be required. Employers are pretty suspicious of many high-end certs from a young person, or someone just entering the field.

There's an interesting comment stream on the article with one hiring manager heatedly warning that a cert won't increase your current salary and that it's all a scam by for-profit training centers, a concern that's certainly been in the news lately.


I keep going back, however, to the view of Foote Partners CEO David Foote:

... if there is also a certification available and the employer is facing a choice between a worker with demonstrated experience in that skill or a person who is less experienced in that skill but has a certification ... I think employers will choose the experienced person and pay a higher premium for that experience. Ideally, they'd probably like to have both because certification does tend to imply a dedication and commitment.

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