CIO Symmetry

Mar 18 2010   8:19PM GMT

Top IT certifications: Do they matter to you?

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

How important are IT certifications today? As organizations start to hire again (there were 58,229 available tech jobs on Dice.com this month), IT certifications could help potential candidates stand out from the competition — and possibly make more money.

According to the March Dice.com report, some certifications can help IT professionals push for higher salaries by proving some level of experience and expertise in a particular field. The right certifications will also help you stand out in your current position and add more value when you’re looking at other companies.

The report goes on to point out the top 10 certifications that have helped technology professionals push for higher salaries, including:

  • Project management professional (PMP)
  • Microsoft’s Certified Systems Engineers, or MCSEs
  • IT Infrastructure Library certification
  • Microsoft Certified Professionals, or MCPs
  • Cisco Certified Network Associates, or CCNAs

IT certifications can help you prove some competency in a particular domain — you studied for and ultimately passed a certification exam and demonstrated your ability and willingness to learn. But certifications are expensive and very time-consuming. Plus, it’s often difficult to sort through the hundreds of vendor-supported programs and standards bodies to find the relevant ones that may actually benefit you or your organization.

For IT managers and CIOs, how often do IT certifications really come into play when hiring or promoting your staff? Last summer, I interviewed Michigan State University’s director of administrative information services, Scott McGill, for a project management story. McGill was in the process of hiring project managers to guide a legacy systems overhaul, so I asked him how important PMP certifications were in his final decision. He said that it was definitely a plus, but it was just one indicator. “Experience and leadership qualities could trump that.”

The results of a 2009 TechTarget Data Decisions survey echoed a similar “nice, but not necessary” tone. IT certification was a factor in hiring or promoting employees for only 17% of 453 respondents.

How much weight do IT certifications carry in your own IT hiring decisions?

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