Do IT Certifications Still Matter?By Ericka Chickowski | Posted 2011-06-03 Email Print
The changing business and IT landscape has made hiring managers take more care to look for job experience and with it the skills that don't translate well to certification, according to a new report that shows employers are willing to pay a premium for non-certified skills.
A new report from the IT employment experts at Foote Partners has found that the premium that companies pay for IT certifications are at their lowest point since 1999, while many non-certified skills remain at the top of employers' wish list.
"This is the largest gap in pay for skills and certifications in ten years," says David Foote, CEO and chief research officer for Foote Partners, which publishes the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index.
According to Foote, while the premium that employers pay for IT certifications has gone down, demand still exists for these attestations of technical skills. It's just that the changing business and IT landscape has made hiring managers take more care to look for job experience and with it the skills that don't translate well to certification.
"Certifications have traditionally been more in demand in deeply technical areas. This is where the certifications industry started, with vendors offering training in their products," Foote says. "but now we have a vastly different definition of 'IT professional' that includes countless new combinations of knowledge, experience and skill sets. Technology and business skills have in effect collapsed into each other, creating legions of what our firm refers to generically as hybrid IT-business professionals."
Foote says that this demand for the mix of skills it takes to be an efficient hybrid professional such as business process, subject matter and industry expertise is largely what has contributed to the erosion of certification values. Over the past 12 months among the 231 certified skills that Foote monitors, the premium value went down by 3.5 percent. Meanwhile, the 252 non-certified IT skills Foote measures saw a 4.2 percent increase.
"Does this mean certifications are not important anymore? That's not what our data is telling us," Foote says. "Instead, what I think we're seeing is that there are hundreds of skills that may not have certifications that are being valued more highly by employers. And if there is also a certification available for a skill and an employer is facing a choice between a worker with demonstrated experience in that skill or a person who is less experienced but holds a certification in that same skill, I think employers will choose the experience person and pay a higher premium for that experience."