I love finding surveys, stats, and wish lists related to IT jobs and certifications. They’re always interesting, they often have useful things to say, and there’s always a catch (or two) involved in interpreting their proclamations. The ITBusinessEdge slideshow entitled “Twenty IT Certifications Project to Make Pay Gains in 2014” is no exception. It’s based on Foote Partners Q4 Update to its 2013 Skills Demand and Pay Trends Report (which is actually based on results for Q3 2013, and covers 348 noncertified IT skills along with 293 IT certifications). The big takeaways from that report were that (a) average page for noncertified IT skills increased by a niggling 0.4% that quarter, up by 1.8% over the previous year, and (b) that average pay for IT certifications were up by 1.5%, the biggest jump since 2005, and the first time since 2006 there had been two consecutive positive quarters in this area.
The lead-in slide from the ITBusinessEdge story sets a somewhat breathless tone for the 20-cert lineup that follows.
The slideshow proceeds to list the following 20 IT certifications where pay hikes have been highest, or where demand is strongest (and thus most like to command higher pay for entrants and bigger raises for those already in the game):
|ITBusinessEdge/Foote Partner’s 20 Raise-worthy IT Certs for 2014|
|Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control||CRISC||ISACA|
|Certified Wireless Security Professional||CWSP||CWNP/Planet 3|
|Certified Wireless Network Expert||CWNE||CWNP/Planet 3|
|GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst||GCFA||SANS/GIAC|
|GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst||GCIA||SANS/GIAC|
|HP Accredited Solutions Expert (All)||HP ASE||HP/ExpertOne|
|HP Master Accredited Solutions Expert||HP MASE||HP/ExpertOne|
|HP Master Accredited Systems Engineer||HP Master ASE||HP/ExpertOne|
|Information Systems Security Engineering Professional||CISSP-ISSEP||ISC-squared|
|Microsoft Certified Architect||MCA||Microsoft (retired)|
|Microsoft Certified Solutions Master||MCSA||Microsoft (retired)|
|Open Group Certified Architect||Open CA||The Open Group|
|Open Group Certified Master Architect||Open CA||The Open Group (up-level from Architect*)|
|Oracle Certified Expert MySQL 5.1 Cluster Database Administrator||OCE||Oracle|
|Oracle Certified Professional MySQL5 Database Administrator||OCP||Oracle|
|Oracle DB Administrator Certified Master||OCM||Oracle (various available for different DB versions)|
|PMI Risk Management Professional||PMI-RMP||Project Management Institute (PMI)|
|Program Management Professional||PgMP||Project Management Institute (PMI)|
|Red Hat Certified Architect||RHCA||RedHat|
|Teradata 12 Certified Enterprise Architect||None||Teradata|
Here’s what’s interesting to me about the results of this survey:
1. Two of the credentials mentioned are no longer available, and thus useful and meaningful only to those who’ve already earned them. This shows only the lag between what people have accomplished and what still lies ahead.
2. Information security, aka infosec, remains a pretty strong expertise card to play, with 6 directly related credentials under that heading, and several others including partial or tangential coverage of infosec as well.
3. High level certifications — those with Master, Expert, and Architect in their labels — account for half of the 20 credentials included. These are high- or pinnacle-level certs, and reflect high seniority, serious skills and knowledge, and valuable experience. Such people are at the top end of the salary scale, so of course their raises are going to be big, along with everything else about their positions. But there are relatively few such individuals in the overall IT population (I’m guessing less than 5% for sure, and possibly less than 2%).
That’s why I always recommend taking surveys like this one with a healthy dose of skepticism, and suggest they’re best used to show trends and possibilities, rather than to provide detailed career guidance (except, perhaps, for those already en route to some of the pinnacle or high-level certs mentioned in the preceding table). Buy this information remains interesting and informative nevertheless.
[*Note added 3/4/2014: Thanks to feedback from David Foote and Aida Zepeda, I am informed that the Open Forum's Master Architect is still available (it just doesn't have a Web page of its own, and functions as an add-on to the base-level Architect credential). In fact there's also a "Distinguished Architect" version of this certification as well, though it's seldom bestowed.]