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Network World - Debate rages among IT professionals over the value of certifications, but a survey of 700 network professionals jointly conducted by Network World and SolarWinds may help put that argument to rest. Among those who earned certifications, most saw a significant boost in their careers as a result.
Some 60% said a certification led to a new job; 50% said they earned more pay, with 40% saying their pay increased by more than 10% directly because of a certification; and 29% said a cert led to a promotion.
Respondents also offered advice on when to get certifications and which ones to get. Interestingly, they named Cisco certifications as both the most, and the least, valuable.
"I have certifications, and yes they've been a big help to me," says Jeff Schoonmaker, a junior network administrator in Portland, Ore., who has a Cisco CCNA, a Microsoft MCITP (Enterprise Desktop Administrator) and the CompTIA A+. Schoonmaker has been an IT professional for a little over a year and says his CCNA helped land him his job and the MCITP has already led to a promotion. He's working on his CCNP, and when he achieves that, he'll get another promotion.
"As far as my career is concerned, certifications are huge. I will continue to chase certs from Microsoft and Cisco throughout my career," he says.
Half of respondents said they pursued certifications to get a promotion or to be eligible for a new job. "My company wanted a Microsoft-certified IT manager, so the MCSA helped me get the job I am currently in," said one respondent. "I was able to stay working for a defense contractor when one contract expired by moving to a different contract due to the certifications I held," another said.
Since three-quarters of respondents had certifications, that means one-quarter (26%) saw no value in them. "I have no certs to my name at all. I do have an MBA. I have been in IT hardware and network admin/engineer roles for over a decade now without a single piece of paper related to the field. You learn as you go, better than you learn in some stupid classroom," commented James7360 on a Spiceworks forum.
But James7360 is in the minority. Even network professionals earning the highest wages -- more than $110,000 -- had as many, or more, certs as those in lower salary brackets.
That's not to say that the certs themselves are solely responsible for these high salaries. Those earning the most money also had more years of experience (75% had more than 10 years) and more traditional education (25% had a master's degree, compared to 11% in the lower salary brackets).
But even so, among the highest-paid IT professionals who had certs, 58% said a cert led to a salary boost or bonus, 63% said it led to a promotion, and 30% to a new job. These numbers are similar to those in the lower salary brackets, who also overwhelmingly said that certs lead to a salary boost or bonus (55%), new job (62%), or promotion (27%).
Those earning the highest wages, $110,000 or more a year, were also more likely to have particularly difficult (and expensive) certifications, like the CCIE, RHCE or CISSP.