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Oct 19 2007   3:57PM GMT

You mean I won’t get paid more for getting this cert?

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

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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.

7  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Chair
    I would be interested in a similar study to see if the same holds true for Sun's Java and JavaEE certified engineers. My experience with hundreds of resumes is that certification has no correlation to qualification. In fact, there's a reverse correlation: those with Sun certification nearly always are under qualified.
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  • SrITguy
    I think it sad that certifications are not correlating well with qualifications, and this is a sad day. I think that there are too many useless certifications that do not require work experience and professional norming as part of the certification process. Another problem occurs when management can make arguments for prefering persons without certifications. That is that management has more power over its organizations than organizations should allow (we are not talking here about mom and pop shops here, where the owner needs to be in total control - to eat or be broke). People working for corporations/government need to be able to do the right thing, regardless of the likes of management, instead of being defacto hamstrung into following orders that are for the benefit of management first. Certifications that require ethical standards, experience and the enforcement of professional norms should be prevailing, and professional groups should be lobbying for penalties to be placed on organizations and managers that want to cheat on quality (by not allowing their subordinates the ability to be properly certified - or prefering to hire uncertified personnel).
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  • Netspert
    Hey SrITguy: You have a strange outlook - you advocate the inmates running the show. That makes you sound like a union guy! Tell me, will those "organizations" take responsibility for the company making a profit for the stockholders? It sounds to me like management IS "doing the right thing" in choosing to hire appropriate skill sets rather than certs from self-serving "organizations."
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  • Chair
    SrITguy, I'm very confused. Are you arguing that people like me should be penalized because we hire based upon skill instead of certification? Our policy is to hire the very best people. What we have noticed is that certain certifications have negative correlation to ability.
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  • IT SAVIOR GUY
    Personally, I'm glad to see a turn toward skills over certs. I've seen way to many people come out of my program at school who are praised for having such high test scores (Test King memorizers) and yet they lacked all hands on skills. One of them actually beat me out of work because he passed a cert when I missed it by 1 question. He has since been fired. Maybe now my lack of money to go towards testing won't hold back my career.
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  • Jfjpcman
    I work for an organization that has hired based on both an applicant having a cert and ones not having a cert but had a degree and both have come out to be about the same with no hands on experience they didn't fill the position so they didn't last long on the job. Now as for myself I have certification that I didn't even consider trying to get until after I had experience using the software or hardware that they correlated to the cert and pursued them while working full time and going to college part time. So I believe that a certification value is like anything that has to do with a human it is all on the individual and should not be grouped together.
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  • Tessa Parmenter
    [...] I begin to wonder what spurred this new direction for them. First Cisco adds consumer products to their plate, now, the job-seeking market. Did they decided there was more money in career-finding services, or did they too see the statistics released by Foote Partners LLC showing the average premium pay for uncertified workers exceeded those who were certified? [...]
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