Tech compensation firm Foote Partners finds non-certified skilled workers commanding increasingly higher pay
The value of technology certifications held by IT professionals sunk to a 20-year low compared to positions calling for non-certified skills, according to a report by Foote Partners, a firm that specializes in tracking technology compensation trends.
The Lowdown: According to new data released by Foote, the average pay for non-certified personnel in technology positions increased 1.1% over the past year and 1.9% over the first three months of 2020. Comparatively, The average pay for certified technology positions decreased 4.5% over the last year and 1.9% in the first quarter. Foote tracks salary based on the extra pay awarded to IT workers relative to their positions and skills.
According to Foote, the value of technology certifications — measured in terms of annual compensation and extra pay — has been declining since 2016. A contributing factor to the decline includes the retirement of some certifications related to less relevant or obsolete technologies. However, the bigger driver is a growing perception that certifications based on passing a test do not necessarily denote expertise or competency in a given skill or technology domain, Foote reports.
Foote notes that the popularity of certain certifications also contributes to their declining value. As more people attain certifications, such as security, the net-market value decreases as the supply of certified professionals increases.
The Details: Non-certified positions seeing compensation increases include specialists in management and methodology processes (5.2%), database administration (3.7%), and application development (2.3%).
Some non-certified skills declined over the last year, including SAP and enterprise business applications (-6.3%), messaging and communications (-1.2%), and systems and networking (1%).
All certified skills tracked by Foote saw year-over-year declines. Certified positions seeing declines include systems administration (-6.4%), information security (-6.3%), architecture and project management (-5.8%), web development (-5.4%), database administration (-3.4%), and networking and communications (-1%).
The Impact: For job seekers, the declining value of certifications means lower compensation for many IT positions, as well as a declining means of differentiating from other candidates. The larger problem is for vendors — particularly channel program managers — which push certifications as a qualifier for their channel programs. The declining value means partners and customers will have less incentive to take the time or expend the money to take classes and go through certification processes.
Background: For years, solution providers have expressed frustration with vendor certification requirements. From a return on investment perspective, solution providers say vendor technical and sales certifications are often arbitrary participation requirements that mean little to their customers and don’t drive revenue.