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Key Certifications Pay Off for IT Pros

Eric Russo | | June 10, 2014

Certification is frequently a divisive issue among IT executives, who debate their value, but employees like being able to confirm that they indeed know what they are doing on the job and trust that specialized knowledge commands a premium.

Several recent surveys find that certifications are paying off for IT professionals, even when they have to pay for the training themselves.

Half of the IT professionals surveyed by Spiceworks in 2014 deemed certifications as very valuable or extremely valuable to their careers. Of those polled, 80 percent said they plan to complete some training or certification this year. Fifty-six percent said their employers would pay for training in 2014, and the remaining respondents said they intend to pay for their certification and/or training.

Reversal of Slump

In its latest survey of pay and premium rates for varied IT skills, Foote Partners finds those who have certifications continuing to command greater salaries. The firm looked at 354 non-certified IT skills and 296 IT certifications, tracking 2,500 North American employers and 150,000 IT professionals. It has produced the study since 1999.

Foote Partners stated:

It is only the third time since 2010 that both certified and non-certified skills categories have recorded pay gains in the same calendar quarter, the result of the reversal of a long running slump in market values for certifications dating back to 2006.

What Is in Demand?

Which certificates are most sought after? Responses vary widely.

Many of the skills now in particular demand, notes ZD Net, did not exist five years ago. These include topics such as data science and analysis, cloud development, and open-source scripting languages. Cloudera certification, for example, focuses on various Apache Hadoop-based skill sets.

The skills premiums — extra pay given to IT professionals — gaining in the fourth quarter of 2013 included database certifications (+1.2%) and applications development/programming language certifications (+0.9%).

Microsoft Certified Solutions Master — which was retired by Microsoft as of December 31, 2013, is among the top 20 certifications Foote Partners forecasts to increase in value during the first half of 2014. It still demonstrates those who hold it “have the deepest level of product expertise,” according to CIO Magazine. Other certifications cited include Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5 Developer, and Oracle Certified Expert MySQL 5.1 Cluster Database Administrator.

More than one in four people among the working-age population in the United States hold a professional certification, license, or educational certificate apart from a post-secondary degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Two specific certifications you may want to pursue, notes Datavail, are Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate — designed for IT professionals with one or two years of experience, and for more senior staff, the Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert certification.

Certification demonstrates your expertise in a specific technology, say Datavail executives. It shows you understand the technical details of that technology. By working to gain a certification, you should be able to command more challenging, more interesting work. If you are ready, they advise, get certified now.

Image by filmfoto/123RF.

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