Report: Security Certifications Boost Pay

By Deborah Perelman  |  Posted 2007-06-01 Print this article Print

Pay premiums for IT security, project management and database administration certifications have soared, finds a new report.

Though the pay value of the vast majority of IT certifications has been on the decline for more than two years, pay premiums for IT security, project management and database administration certifications have soared, finds a new report.

Compensation for certified IT security professionals increased nearly 2 percent over the past six months, according to research released May 31 by Foote Partners, an IT work force research firm based in New Canaan, Conn.

Foote Partners documented a multi-year trend in IT professional pay in which noncertified IT skills are gaining over their certified counterparts. Pay for 149 leading noncertified IT skills grew 4.1 percent in value in the last six months and 9.1 percent over the past year, according to the most recent report.

Pay for certified IT skills increased 1.1 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively, in the same period.

"We've been reporting for more than a year that pay for IT certifications has been on a steady decline," remarks David Foote, Foote Partners CEO and chief research officer.

Click here to read more about why IT certifications don't add up.

"But there is one category of IT certifications—and only one, according to our data—that is showing signs of life: IT security. The group of 27 security certifications we survey is the only one that grew in value the past six months and we discovered why," he said.

Between the third quarter of 2001 and the third quarter of 2004, average base pay for IT professionals declined significantly, whether they had certified or non-certified technology skills. However, certified IT pros took slightly less of a hit, according to Foote's data.

After pay for both groups bottomed out in the third quarter of 2004, though both certified and non-certified IT professional pay came back fairly quickly, non-certified pay made healthier gains, putting it in the possible position to surpass certified pay by the end of 2007, if not sooner.

Several certifications, however, are holding their own. IT professionals with security certifications—including all versions of the CISSP, CISA, GSE, CISM, SSCP and GCFA—earned 10 percent to 14 percent premiums on their base pay over their non-certified counterparts.

Foote sees the strength of pay for certified IT security professionals as related to larger cultural trends and customer demands.

"Customers are becoming nervous and demanding more security in their vendors' products and services. This is especially true when their data is running across vendor networks," said Foote.

"We believe that this trend in IT security certifications pay is an indication that, finally, there is something other than government regulation that is driving business leaders to examine how critically short-handed their companies are when it comes to staffing the IT security function. Historically, market forces have been more effective than regulation in moving companies to correct deficiencies in their products and services. That, and in the case of security, sudden serious security breaches such as the recent theft of personal information by more than 45 million TJX customers," he said.

Project management certifications—including PMP, and the Open Group's ITCA—had a similar median pay value, and networking/internetworking certifications—including BCSM, CCIE, CCVP, CCSI, CCEA and several others—earned individuals 10 percent to 13 percent pay premiums, according to the report.

Other certifications holding their value included those in the areas of systems administration and engineering (Master ASE, CCIA and RHCA), application development and programming languages (IBM WebSphere and SOA Solution Designer, OCP and MCSD) and databases (TCM, OCM DBA, DB2 and TCAD).

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