Finding the IT Skills That Command Premium Pay

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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While the overall value of IT skills certifications continues to decline, particular categories, including security and virtualization, continue to command premium pay regardless of certification. A recent survey by Foote Partners shows that some categories of IT skills and IT certifications are still paying well in spite of the recession.

The value of IT certifications declined again over the last 12 months, but bucking that trend, IT security skills led all categories in terms of value of IT skills for both certified and non-certified workers in terms of pay.

The value of IT certifications fell by 4.1 percent over the past 12 months while the value of security certifications rose by 2 percent over the past 12 months, according to the most recent survey of pay premiums for IT skills in the United States and Canada.

In the midst of a recession where job losses and unemployment have reached levels not seen in years, the new survey finds bright spots in demand and premium pay for particular IT skill sets and certifications.

"Perhaps the more positive story for North American IT labor and a better indicator of overall workforce performance is demand trends for specific categories of IT skills," says David Foote, Foote Partners co-founder, CEO and chief research officer, in a prepared statement. "The recession has had minimal impact on demand for IT skills in the areas such as architecture, business process, security, communications, e-commerce and several ERP and infrastructure specializations."

The survey notes that pay premiums for non-certified and certified IT skills fell an average of 0.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively, for the three months ending June 30. But several IT skills and certifications increased in value—for example, security.

"Security has become a key product and service differentiator among customers who are insisting on better protection for their data whether in servers or transported across networks," says Foote. "Companies are working actively to better secure virtualized environments now that the differences in threats to physical and virtual computing environments have become more apparent." Virtualization, the study finds, is the top-value networking and infrastructure skill.

The top five non-certified IT skills are:

  • Java, EE, SE, ME
  • Linux
  • Virtualization
  • Microsoft .NET
  • NetWeaver (SAP)

The top five certifications are:

  • GIAC Certified Incident Handler
  • EMC Proven Professional Technology Architect – Expert
  • Citrix Certified Integration Architect
  • HP/Master Accredited Systems Engineer
  • Cisco Certified Security Professional

The survey also found that while average median pay for certain skill sets declined among non-certified IT skills, "Management, methodology and process" grew in value by 8.3 percent over the last 12 months and 0.6 percent over the last three months. Web and e-commerce development gained 0.8 percent over the last three months, and SAP and enterprise business applications gained 0.2 percent over the last three months.

Average median pay for professionals holding certifications in architecture and project management increased by 4.1 percent over the last 12 months. It increased by 2 percent for IT security over the last 12 months and by 0.5 percent over the last three months.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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