Leadership

Video: The five most lucrative certifications for IT leaders

TechRepublic's 2009 IT salary and skills survey has good news for IT pros but also showed the effects of the global recession. This episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives shares the key findings, including the five most lucrative IT management certifications.

For the second straight year, TechRepublic and Global Knowledge have partnered on a comprehensive IT Skills and Salary Report. Our 2009 report showed a surprisingly strong increase in compensation for IT professionals, but also showed the effects of the global recession that's now gripping the business world. This episode of Sanity Savers for IT executives shares the key findings from the 2009 salary survey, including the five most lucrative IT management certifications.

For those of you who prefer text to video, you can click the "Transcript" link underneath the video. You can also download the full 2009 IT Skills and Salary Report as a PDF.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

27 comments
dbecker
dbecker

We just spent $20,000 for 13 people to take a 3 day ITIL Basic Class to take the test. The Proctor came from the UK for the hour long test. Your tax dollars at work. 1) This is a class from hell. Several were saying before the class was over that instead of punishing criminals with prison, they should be forced to take ITIL classes. While the information is valuable and actually useful, getting there to even pass the test is extremely difficult: We spent around 8 hours in class going straight through the material and then up to 4 or 5 hours after class for two days to study for the test. While we had access to 5 sample tests and went over them, the tests themselves have questions in them not related to the material covered or in the manuals [example: Service Desk People and their future career paths]. Be warned. 2) Actually usage of ITIL in our particular environment for techs is virtually nill, except as a possible help in filling out our in-house created time track system [but probably not, because it changes so much from week to week and is perpetually incomplete]. The managers in IT don't actually agree to use ITIL, except possibly for the Service Desk. The only use for ITIL is to produce the appearance that IT is actually employing ITIL, which it genuinely is not -- management continues the "fly by the seat of the pants" of doing whatever they think up without much structure. One issue is that the IT OPs manager pretends to use ITIL, while her counterpart Development Manager uses Agile. The two are not compatible, no matter what those guys from Sun Microsystems say. So here's the choice [as noted by some above]: If you are a tech, do you want to go through the pain of certification when it is either not used by IT where you are and / or is irrelevant to your job duties? The question is less relevant if you want to really understand the way things SHOULD be done [as opposed to how IT Management creates the work place framework]. If you are hungry for this sort of knowledge regardless, go for it. It will have benefit, if for no other reason to expand your mind. [By the way, take notes. Recent research shows that people who doodle remember things better than those who don't. I found it useful for me.] If you are a manager type looking for opportunities, then ITIL certification is a really important step to gaining ascendancy to a better career and better earnings. It's the way things should be and you can be better paid with greater job satisfaction if you can create / work in a well defined framework of ITIL.

Steve Romero
Steve Romero

I have a number of comments after listening to Jason, reading the report and reviewing the comments posted so far. First, I think the title of this blog post is potentially misleading. When I read, "The five most lucrative certifications for IT Leaders" I mistakenly assumed they were talking about IT Executives or Senior Managers. I found no correlation in the study between the certifications and whether or not those certified were at the staff, supervisory or executive level. I guess they were using the term "leaders" a little more metaphorically. This may seem like nit-picking, but I found the title compelling because of a blog post I wrote a year ago titled, "The Enlightened IT Manager." In my experience, the vast majority of IT certifications are held by people in staff positions. In my post, I contended that many of what I consider to be staff level certifications are valuable when it becomes to being a good leader in IT. I mistakenly thought this blog would be along the same lines. My misunderstanding aside, I believe these certifications have great potential value, and I agree with one of the responses posted that these certifications are not the end-all. They are but a single dimension in performance determination. I have personally found my certifications to be very helpful in my career. I hold certifications in project management, service management, security, general information technology and computing, and process management. I acquired most of these certifications not to fulfill job requirements, but to gain and expand my knowledge of the many dimensions of IT. In addition to the invaluable ability to better relate to the many perspectives in the world of information technology, these certifications opened many doors. And I am not just talking about employment opportunities. I found many people behaved more openly and were more receptive to collaboration because of the fraternity created by holding mutual certifications. Now if I can only find data that shows the correlation between the many certifications and the positions held in the IT organizations. Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

dwilga
dwilga

I would argue that it all depends on the size of your organization. SOMEONE in the supervisory chain needs to have the same certification as the rank and file IT workers in order to be able to effectively manage those workers. I would further argue that these leaders do not necessarily need to have the most current cert, but do need to be just current enough to prevent being buffalo'ed by their subordinates when those workers need some guidance. For larger IT teams, there are probably enough mid-level supervisors with certifications to get this done, but for smaller shops where the majority of the staff reports directly to the department head or CIO/CTO, then those are the persons that need some of the same (or extremely similar) certifications as the persons actually doing the work.

ramamamidi
ramamamidi

Good news.. and good presentation. Yes, This recession is entirely different from those we had in the past. At least in the IT prospective.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

All this talk is about managers, directors, higher ass-wipes in general. Some of us don't fit into those categories. I'm talking about the people that hold those assholes up meaning the support staff that carry out their biddings. I don;t think the salaries have improved for people on server assembly lines, phone tech support, or even a hybrid combo. Will someone please show ME the money!?!?

steve.lawless
steve.lawless

I don't know which training company you used, but your organisation should have shopped around. I've just worked out our pricing model you could have got this for half the price, and it would have been more enjoyable..

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

1) Sure, the ITIL Foundations course is tough, but it's there to give you the overview. ITILv3 is pretty darn huge and there are lots of pieces that can break off and choke small children. 2) ITIL needs to come from the top down. If it doesn't it won't work. The Service Desk can use Incident and Problem (and possibly Change) 'til the cows come home, but the reality is that the management needs to buy in You are dead on with your last paragraph though...

ryumaou@hotmail.com
ryumaou@hotmail.com

I agree with you in principal, that IT management needs to have the skills and knowledge to not be bluffed by the staff, but that doesn't equate to certifications. Passing a test, no matter how good, cannot equal knowledge and skill and experience matched with critical thinking skills. I think the last bit is key to *any* good IT professional at any level. All the certs in the world won't help someone without the ability to apply them. I hold several certifications in different networking technologies, but my skill base far outstrips my certs. The certs are enough to get me past the first round of "thinning the herd" in an HR department, but it's the ability to perform when things have caught fire, so to speak, that is my real asset to a company. Certifications can't show that. As a hiring manager, certifications are one, small factor in deciding who to hire. Frankly, I think too many techs and too many tech news organizations emphasized them as be all, end all measure of skill in our business. I *know* that they're not the only, or even the best, measure of ability in our field. And, I know a lot of guys like me, who are certified and experienced in the business, who feel the same way.

mark.silvia
mark.silvia

In most cases, you will not start at a high-level nor high-paying position in our work life. I started as a busboy when I was 14. Next, right after high school, I worked on the assembly line at Seagate. That was a turning point for me because I was absolutely miserable due to the monotonous nature. I decided to go back to school. After several years, I now have an MBA degree and am just 3 tests away from an MCSE and MCDBA credentials. I have a rewarding job that is challenging and interesting. The pay is not great, but it pays the bills and allows me and my family to live comfortably. The point is, most of use have to earn and work our way to where we want to be in life.

neilcamp
neilcamp

Most of us who achieve management positions struggled through the "slave" days. I have been in the it field since 84 working on terminals off mainframes. I still wish someone would show me the money. But I have a job I love with an extreme level of satisfaction in a smaller city. So what I am trying to say is be happy where you are at or make a move. I always told guys who work for me if your unhappy don't be unhappy here.

mreza_najib
mreza_najib

Hi dear Mr.Hiner, I'm an elementary IT manager from Iran(Mashhad) Can you send me some your main factors of IT certification. Thanks.

phportelance
phportelance

I find there is alot of questions about IT certifications. IT certifications have the same problem as education in the IT profession: they are not always viewed positively. Why, I do not understand this and believe the proper message has not gotten out from IT leaders. It is true that some have gotten certifications through brain dumps and a good memory. I cannot see how that tarnishes the ones that have been gotten through hardwork by means of study and experience. There are some IT workers with alot of experience that are not good at their jobs. Does this tarnish the importance of experience in the IT profession? I do not think so. Another benefit to requiring certification is the rising of the bar. This is the message, I want to send my son and all young people considering a career in IT. If you study hard and get a good education both academically and through certification this will help you get good opportunities in IT to learn more and gain rewarding experience. Can we say that now to young people entering the profession. IT leaders may rationalize how the profession is improving but the answer to that question at this time is no. It seems to matter more that you have information in the form that you did something rather then that you know something and are capable of applying that knowledge. Just because you have information and can do something, does not mean you are good at it or have knowledge. To look for someone that has knowledge and ability what better place to start then education and certifications.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

For 13 people, that's (about) $1500/person. That's pretty much par for the course. I've seen it as low as $1200/person, but never below $1000/person.

dwilga
dwilga

Yes, I agree that the rank and file workers as well as the front line supervisors definitely need the hands-on experience as well as the cert or degree. But I respectfully disagree in that I believe the original question was referring to upper management/IT leadership. I would therefore have to say that at these upper levels, only concepts and capabilities (such as those gained by certs) is required. Yes, I'm describing upper management folks who would clearly have trouble writing a set of SNORT rules, or a bulletproof Cisco firewall config, but that's not really their job function. Their function at a CTO/CIO level is to direct and manage the IT infrastructure for the corporation as a whole, and not be bogged down by the minutia.

dsmith
dsmith

I've been in this business since the mid to late 80's also. I never put much stock on certifications until about 3 years ago. while I was busy growing my skills, I had younger and younger guys with pretty pieces of paper coming in to be my boss that didn't know a switch from a router. I decided to take some time off and attend a couple of boot camps, best thing I ever did. Now *I* am the manager, becaue along with my pretty paper I have the field experience and the proven by fire scars that let my employeer KNOW that he's getting the best for his dollar.

mike
mike

The last two interviews I did were very interesting. The interviewer turned his laptop around to me and asked me to configure several cisco devices and domain servers using vmware and a network simulator. I loved it! Made me feel really good that I knew how. He commented that others just froze. My certs got me thorugh the door. My skill will help me get and keep the new job.

Photogenic Memory
Photogenic Memory

Thank you. Sometimes it gets to me. Articles like this; although informative, only represent a small minority of people. I guess until the economy gets better; most of us will be working those assembly lines/call centers and hope to break out eventually.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

You aren't paying for the instructor, you're paying for the class. Most companies have (more or less) a flat fee for the class, which is usually around $1300-$1500/person. You still have to pay for the airfare, hotel, rental car, food, etc. We travel all over and honestly, the cost savings are nominal and normally nonexistent when you factor in the various costs associated.

steve.lawless
steve.lawless

The current exchange rate of the $ to the ? makes shipping over a UK based trainer for a 3 day Foundation course a cheaper option. A weak ? does have some advantages for UK based exporters of goods or services. It works the same way for the ? and the Euro at the moment. It always worth shopping around.

dsroper
dsroper

I have an AAS, BS, MBA, MCITP:EA 2008 Server, MCSA 2003, MCP, MCTS:Sharepoint, Certified Virtualization Expert(CVE), Security+, Network+, A+, and am a Certified Methods Engineer. I also have 20 years of experience in IT as a PC Technician, Programmer, Network/Systems Engineer, CIO for a medium sized company and now as a Network Administrator II for a large company. I am also scared that next week my number may be up and I'll be unemployed along with 10 of the other 50 highly skilled IT people in this company. I would have to be naive to believe that the company would keep me simply because of my experience, Certs and Degrees if the whole business and every business in our area is tanking at the same time. And no I'm not scared of moving; I've lived all over the world from California (my birthplace) to Germany. I just know that at any moment the government or business conditions could kill off my company with a blink of an eye and sorry but no one is hiring.

dwilga
dwilga

Agreed without reservation, experience can be a real bear to achieve -- especially if you are trying to break into the IT field as your primary job. As for how *I* look at a potential employee, it goes like this... The experience tells me he/she knows what and how the job needs to be done. The cert (on TOP of the experience) tells me that the candidate (potentially) knows how to do the job *correctly* without wasting company time by researching each nuance of each task. So, the cart and horse example isn't quite right. It's more like the IT department has a barn full of mice and although a kitten has more energy and drive, what the company really needs is a mature cat. (sorry for the comparison, it's the only thing that seemed to fit).

mike
mike

Internships, job shadowing, etc. It is the same in any field. How do you get experience while still making enough to pay your bills. This is why career changing or career building is difficult. I have heard this same concern from electricians, mechanics, nurses, etc. I think its just part of process. The current economic environment sure makes it tougher though.

Oni1copycat
Oni1copycat

Okay, I have been in the field nine months total. Three months in a call center for dell and six months working as a Service desk analyst. It took me four months after graduating to get the call center job and five months to get the SD job. by the time i had graduated, I had been a stay at home dad for 5 years. Getting a certification was a pipe dream until I had a job. The only reason i got the SD position was because i demonstrated I knew what i was supposed to know and that once i got a hold of a problem i was like a pitbull till it was solved. Certification most certainly would have been a boon. what i am trying to say is that it's hard to get experience if no one will look past the certifications, conversely we want cert's to say to the world "I know my stuff". So which do we need more the experience (the cart) or Certifications (the horse).

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

That is the key to success in the IT field. If you can get a 4 yr degree have 8 yrs experience and some certs (ITIL is HOT) then you have no need to worry about recession or depression. I am working on my 4 yr and I have no certs so I am lucky to even be in the position I am in...experience can do wonders.

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