SAP certifications boosting pay, but others still falling: survey

Research shows demand high for SAP, wireless and security, but some Microsoft, Novell, IBM and Cisco certs lose value

Foote Partners' IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index reveals the certified and noncertified skills that lost value in the past 12 months and those that have earned more pay.

IT professionals looking to cash in on hard-earned certifications may be surprised to learn that many IT skills continue to lose value as others experience increases in pay.

Foote Partners, a research firm focusing on pay and compensation for hundreds of certified and noncertified IT skills, this week reported that while pay for SAP skills saw increases of 25% to 30% over the past 12 months, other certified skills pay declined during the same time. Foote Partners quarterly tracks some 331 IT skills and pay premiums earned by 22,000 IT professionals in the United States and Canada.

David Foote, co-founder, CEO and chief research officer, states in the report that "by now everybody has heard that demand for certifications by IT managers has softened considerably. In fact, our IT skills and Certifications Pay Index has found eight straight quarters of consistently decreasing pay for the 165 certifications we survey."

For instance, IT certifications among those with the largest market value declines in the past 12 months included Microsoft Certified Professional+Internet (MCP+I) with a 40% decrease. Pay for IBM Certified Advanced Application Developer -- Lotus Notes/Domino, Novell/Certified Internet Professional (CIP) and Novell/Certified Novell Engineer (CNE) each shrunk by 25%. LAN Server Engineer (LSE) certifications dropped more than 33% in terms of pay, while Oracle Forms Developer Certified Professional (OCP) certifications earned more than 18% less pay. And IT professionals with Cisco Certified Design Associate (CCDA) certifications saw a 14% decrease in pay.

Among the noncertified skills Foote Partners tracks, Microsoft Exchange skills pay saw a 25% decrease over the last 12 months. IT professionals with WebSphere skills experienced a more than 16% drop in pay for those skills, while Linux professionals earned about 14% less in the past 12 months. Pay for expertise in HP-UX dropped 12.5%, and RFID talent received about 10% less over the previous 12 months.

Aside from the SAP skills that have seen increases of as much as 57% in some cases over the past 12 months, Foote noted several skills that have yet to experience pay declines. "The exception has been a selection of security, networking, systems and database certifications, plus a few in the architecture and project management areas that are showing solid pay growth numbers," he stated in the report.

For instance, noncertified wireless network management skills pay increased by more than 33% over the past 12 months and noncertified network security management pay grew by more than 36%. Pay for certified GIAC Security Experts (GSE) grew more than 36% and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) pay increased by 20%. Cisco Certified Network Professionals (CCNP) and Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator: Messaging (MCSA:Messaging) pay each increased by more than 14%.

Separately, Goldman Sachs this week released its quarterly IT Spending Survey that found IT budgets being decreased more and staffing as one of the areas to be cut. Some 15% of the 100 managers surveyed identified internal staffing as one area their companies considered as having the greatest potential for cost reduction within the IT organization. The August survey number was up 9% in June, 12% in April and 9% in February.

"We see a greater focus on potential internal staffing cuts as an incremental negative for the environment," the research firm wrote in its report.

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