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Tell me you haven’t heard this before: Getting a certification earns you more pay. This week, however, Foote Partners LLC released a study revealing just the reverse: the average premium pay for uncertified workers trumps those who are certified. They have seen the average premium pay for uncertified workers increase 8% and decrease 2.3% for certified engineers in the past year.
I sat down with cofounder and CEO of Foote Partners LLC’s David Foote a few weeks ago to discuss the value of networking certifications in the job market. At that point in time, statistics for non-certified versus certified IT worker base pay percentage had just come to a head. Foote saw that managers were just beginning to look more at the skills IT professionals had to offer over the certifications they had obtained. In light of these new statistics, we’re really seeing results of this statement now. In less than a month we’ve seen a huge difference in how certifications are viewed.
“Part of the reason for this is the steady convergence of IT and business as, quite clearly, the design and delivery of products and services is heavily enabled by technology,” Foote stated in his report. New technology has always lead to new specialized jobs (think IT engineers). With the rapid rate the tech industry evolves at, it should come as no surprise that the IT job market would follow suit. To paraphrase Foote’s words, the toll that skill certifications are taking is just a drop in the bucket of changes we will see in the industry as a whole.
“IT professionals today have to be routinely knowledgeable about a whole lot of things that have to do with their employers’ industry, customers, and products–enough to take a strategic as well as tactical role in growing the business,” Foote said. But is it possible for IT to be completely converged in the business? Foote Partners LLC found that managers are most likely to hire IT pros with superior business skills, over IT pros with superior tech skills.
Does a decrease in pay for certified engineers mean that the workforce will start to see less-knowledgeable workers? IT guys and gals constantly juggle between certifying, schooling and getting work experience, and it finally seems that work experience is more valuable to managers. We can hopefully see experienced IT workers getting the recognition they deserve. No more struggling to prove their skills on paper; no more sacrificing work experience to chase down a certification.
Will this mean certifications will no longer exist? Should you request a refund of your Cisco training camp check? Not entirely. For one, Foote says “The Department of Defense has made [the decision to make]* certification a condition of employment,” meaning, once this goes through, The Department of Defense Directive 8570 will only hire security workers that have security certifications. So if you plan on helping Uncle Sam’s security sector five years from now, these stats won’t mean a great deal.
What else should you expect to see? Foote Partners LLC says that “the IT career ladder has been replaced by meandering career paths that span business functions and enterprises.” So rather than a rigid, one-way climb, think more about moving up, diagonally and across a jungle-gym rope ladder.
*The Department of Defense Directive 8570 is not mandating certifications for another five years.