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Long seen as a method to maximize employment opportunities and salaries in the post-dot-com-bust era, a study released today finds that pay for certified IT skills falls short of the pay for non-certified skills.

The Q1 2006 Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index, released April 25 by Foote Partners, a New Canaan, Conn., IT compensation and workforce management firm, found that pay premiums for non-certified IT skills grew three times faster than for certified ones in a six-month period spanning 2005-2006.

The study suggests that there has been a change in employers’ acceptance of the value of non-certified tech skills versus certifications in maintaining competitive pay for their workers.

“This is the first time skills have trumped certifications since our firm began surveying tech skills pay in 2000,” said David Foote, president and chief research office for the workforce research and consulting firm, in a statement.

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“Eighteen months ago, it was all about certifications for IT workers as employers stumbled out of the wreckage of an economic recession, looking to start hiring again.

“This is a clear indication that employers are not placing the same emphasis on certification that they once did. Perhaps more to the point, they are finding other qualities of IT professionals more critical to their businesses going forward, and they are willing to pay more for those.”

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Tracking the market value of 212 IT skills and certifications, premium pay for 103 non-certified skills averaged 7.1 percent of the base salary for a single skill. This number was up from 6.8 percent in Q1 2005, and 6.6 percent in Q1 2004.

Pay for non-certified skills grew nearly 70 percent more than certifications, or 4.4 percent versus 2.6 percent respectively.

Among “cooling” certified tech skills, those that have lost their value in the last year, the study lists nine, including MCDST (Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician), CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor), and three Novell certifications (NCDE, MCNE, and CNA).

Fourteen certifications have grown in value, showing an 11 percent or higher growth over the last year, including SCNP (Security Certified Network Professional), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer).

Highest-paid certifications include CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor), and five different Cisco certifications (CCDP, CCEA, CCIE, CCIP and CCSP).

Skills categories showing the most growth in the survey included Applications Development/Programming Languages, Project Management, Training, Webmaster and Security.

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