Jobs: Security IT Certifications Still in High Demand

By Leah Gabriel Nurik  |  Print this article Print

The volatile job market of the past few years has hurt the pay scale for many IT professionals, but there's one IT certification that has remained in high demand through it all -- security.

The IT jobs market is volatile, and certain certifications are in high demand, according to a new report released by analyst firm Foote Partners this week. Pay for both IT certification jobs and pay for noncertified skills posted a second straight gain in a quarter. So what does that mean for IT pros looking for work?

Foote Partner’s new research identifies which certifications and which skills are in high demand, and, consequently, offering greater pay incentives. Those looking to expand personal certifications or veer on a different and more profitable career path, may find the report information intriguing.

The research shows that with the recession came a dip in a demand for many technical certifications as available jobs shrunk and more certified professionals scrambled to find work. Simple economics, right? More supply resulted in lesser pay. However, even as the market recovers slightly and slowly, certain certifications remain in very high demand, regardless of market volatility. Among them are certain certifications in SAS for analytics and business intelligence, Java and Microsoft.

However, the only certification category that consistently grew in demand since December 2007, regardless of market volatility, is security.

Foot Partners analyst Bill Reynolds says that security certifications will continue to be in high demand for a number of reasons.

"It’s the perfect wave—security certifications are being driven by compliance and increasing regulation and increasing threats," said Reynolds.  "And, the cost of those threats to companies is getting more and more," said Bill Reynolds,

Reynolds also says that the highly technical nature of security certifications makes those certifications and the workers that possess them more and more important to companies.

Other hot certification areas include those related to systems and infrastructure like VMWare, Citrix, and RedHat certifications. In addition, networking certifications, more specifically Cisco certifications, are in demand.

The research also showed an interesting trend as it relates to non-certified IT professionals. More and more, businesses are in search of IT pros that can easily move into the line of business, as an increasingly large chunk of the IT budget is being moved into departments and under the control of the line of business lead. IT professionals that can demonstrate an understanding of customer purchasing, sales, marketing, operations and service are more likely to land a job and appeal more to enterprises as companies continue to make this shift.

Reynolds says some of the non-certified technical skills that are in high demand include experience with ITIL, six sigma, Linux, Windows 7 and SAP.

Foot Partners also released updates to its index that measures and compares the volatility of values for certified and noncertified IT skills, which showed that the market remains volatile and the percentage score, 32 percent, for volatility assigned by the analyst firm has not changed from the previous quarter. This in comparison to what the firm considers normal market behavior percentiles of 14 to 19 percent, which was the standard between 2004 and 2008, and the highest index rating of 38.7 percent in the depths of the recession last summer.