IT Skills Update: SAP Demand Up, Certifications Down

In its IT Skills Certification Pay Index (ITSCPI), Foote Partners regularly examines the pay earned by 22,000 IT professionals in North America. Most notable in its latest findings has been the skyrocketing value in SAP technical skills, which have jumped up in value by as much as 30 percent in value in the last six months.

Compared to the average IT skills premium of 2.1 percent, the difference is striking, says David Foote, CEO and chief research officer for Foote Partners, who believes much of this has been stimulated by strategic transitions in SAP?s product approach.

"The reason is very simple; they’ve repositioned their product lines,"  Foote says. ?They’ve gone very much to verticals and concentrated on solutions within industries. Then they’ve broken it down within industries to HR, finance and accounting, warehouse management, manufacturing, logistics , operations and so on. So, they’ve created these specializations and products around that.

*For more a detailed look at the numbers from this report, check out the CIO Insight article IT Salaries: SAP Pros See a Big Bounce.

Unfortunately, SAP created the need for people with skills in those specializations and exacerbated it by aggressively pursuing down-market customers, Foote says.

?Anytime you do that, then you need a workforce of people that have skills in those specializations,? Foote says. ?Right now you’ve got a lot of pressure on people to find this talent.?

He predicts that it will take at least a year to a year-and-a-half for the market to adjust and ramp up with enough skilled workers to fill this SAP gap.

Meanwhile, many IT shops are spending less to hire those with IT certifications. The pay premium for IT certifications has dipped by 3.5 percent in the last 12 months, Foote Partners reported.

?Other things have begun to be more important than certification of skills. A lot of companies have outsourced a lot of their pure technical work,? Foot says. "If you look at hiring and you look at the evolution of IT, so many of the jobs in IT are really not so technical anymore. If they find somebody with the industry experience, the solution experience and customer experience and they’re not certified, they’re going to hire this person. They don’t care if they’re not certified."

The only exception to the dip in certification premiums is in IT security, which has consistently seen a 3.3 percent rise in value over the last 12 months.

?There has been a lack of attention on security for many years; now attention is growing and at the same time there are all of these governance issues that have converged," Foote says, which has led to demand outpacing the supply of certified IT security professionals. 

*For a recent analysis of database administrator (DBA) salaries, take a look at eWEEK’s Data Professionals See Salaries Rise.