Paycheck payoff for IT certs still declining

Latest salary survey indicates CIOs are paying more for experience, business skills than technical certifications

Wondering whether you'll get a raise or bonus if you earn another IT industry certification? Odds are you won't, according to the latest IT salary data from Foote Partners.

Overall, the value of IT certifications has been on the decline since the third quarter of 2007, according to quarterly data compiled by Foote Partners. The survey has recorded quarterly declines in average pay premiums in 19 of the last 21 quarters for the 274 IT certifications it tracks.

In contrast, the pay premium associated with non-certified IT skills is on the rise. The Foote Partners survey has recorded average overall pay gains in six of the last eight quarters for 240 non-certified IT skills.

Indeed, the premium pay gap between non-certified and certified IT skills is the largest it has been since late 2000. The Foote Partners data indicates that employers are paying 8.5% more for employees with non-certified IT skills, compared to 7% more for employees with IT certifications.

"It seems that when it comes to IT hiring, employers may prefer demonstrated experience over certification, plus they are seeking more skills in areas where there are no certifications," said David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners.

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Foote says the rising demand for non-certified IT skills coincides with a push by companies to outsource the more technical operations involving data centers, networks, servers and help desks.

"A lot of the pure tech jobs have been leaving the companies, as CIOs hire somebody else like a managed service provider for the pure tech infrastructure support," Foote says. "Companies are paying for skills that are valuable to the business. They want IT people that have the potential for earning revenue for the company or ferreting out new products or services."

Foote says managed service providers and consulting firms are paying lower wages for employees with IT certifications because so many of them are available for hire.

"The market has a glut of people with IT certifications. They can hire people and retain people without paying bonuses or premiums," Foote said. "Consulting firms are hard nosed; they are trying to protect their margins."

When corporate IT departments evaluate potential employees these days, they are favoring business skills over technical skills, Foote said.

"In general, what CIOs are looking for in IT workers are understanding of the customer or the solution set, subject matter expertise and customer know-how," Foote said. "The tech skills are fourth or fifth on their list of priorities."

The latest Foote Partners data is through Oct. 1, 2011. It includes verified premium pay for 31,953 IT professionals in the United States and Canada.

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