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Certifications don't work for you - new study says.

By The Admiral ·
Study Shows Downside of IT Certification
By Deborah Rothberg -
April 26, 2006

Long seen as a method to maximize employment opportunities and salaries in the post-dot-com-bust era, a study released today finds that pay for certified IT skills falls short of the pay for non-certified skills.

The Q1 2006 Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index, released April 25 by Foote Partners, a New Canaan, Conn., IT compensation and workforce management firm, found that pay premiums for non-certified IT skills grew three times faster than for certified ones in a six-month period spanning 2005-2006.

The study suggests that there has been a change in employers' acceptance of the value of non-certified tech skills versus certifications in maintaining competitive pay for their workers.

"This is the first time skills have trumped certifications since our firm began surveying tech skills pay in 2000," said David Foote, president and chief research office for the workforce research and consulting firm, in a statement.

"Eighteen months ago, it was all about certifications for IT workers as employers stumbled out of the wreckage of an economic recession, looking to start hiring again.

"This is a clear indication that employers are not placing the same emphasis on certification that they once did. Perhaps more to the point, they are finding other qualities of IT professionals more critical to their businesses going forward, and they are willing to pay more for those."

Tracking the market value of 212 IT skills and certifications, premium pay for 103 non-certified skills averaged 7.1 percent of the base salary for a single skill. This number was up from 6.8 percent in Q1 2005, and 6.6 percent in Q1 2004.

Pay for non-certified skills grew nearly 70 percent more than certifications, or 4.4 percent versus 2.6 percent respectively.

Among "cooling" certified tech skills, those that have lost their value in the last year, the study lists nine, including MCDST (Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician), CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor), and three Novell certifications (NCDE, MCNE, and CNA).

Fourteen certifications have grown in value, showing an 11 percent or higher growth over the last year, including SCNP (Security Certified Network Professional), CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) and MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer).

Highest-paid certifications include CISM (Certified Information Security Manager), CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor), and five different Cisco certifications (CCDP, CCEA, CCIE, CCIP and CCSP).

Skills categories showing the most growth in the survey included Applications Development/Programming Languages, Project Management, Training, Webmaster and Security.

----- SNIP ----

This is a new study from, and has backed up what I have said in the past that most if not all have stated that I did not know what I was talking about. The facts are the facts, certification just isn't what it is cracked up to be.

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Two reasons why...

by Ed Woychowsky In reply to Certifications don't work ...

There are two reasons for this; the first is by the time that certification tests are created for a skill it is no longer leading edge. What has happened is that the skill has become mainstream, basically the how-to knowledge has become pretty widespread. This widespread knowledge leads into the second reason, as human beings we learn by doing. While there is nothing wrong with theory, it is better when backed up by some practical knowledge.

Would you rather hire someone that tests well or someone that has actually demonstrated the skills you need by developing applications?

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by jmgarvin In reply to Certifications don't work ...

Certs lost their meaning once the guaranteed pass centers cropped up.

****, you can even "hire" someone to take your cert test for you!

When it is so easy to get a cert, that a 12 year old with limited IT knowledge and NO experience can get one, then we have to take a step back and rethink...

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by Dr Dij In reply to Certifications don't work ...

I saw what appears to be the same study on globalknowledge (an IT training company) website. What it indicated in their chart was that premium pay (ranging from 3 to 16% or so) for non-certified skills was rising while same for certified skills was falling. Overall premium pay for 109 certified skills was still ABOVE that for 103 non-certified skills.

I don't have any certs so I'm not biased in that direction. goto globalknowledge, and download the 20 page pdf report and read it yourself. it is confusing. but goto graphs near page 20 and you'll see what I mean.

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yeah, right!!

by kpak44wh In reply to Actually

That's a load of cow manure, you need to provide the
facts, and were you got them from. You got the facts
from a company who wants you to pay for their training,
not biased?
Comptia will say the opposite on their website. So, who
do you believe? I believe that the certs will get you
started, but the experience will help you move up the
ladder. A bachelor's degree can help, but a 2 to 3 week pc
training course, won't. I have seen too many people come
from classes like that, and not know nothing about our
work. The truth is, right now there is not a lot of money
making jobs in the I.T. field right now. The market isn't
better, but worse, last year we had over 40 major
contracts, this year less than 2 so far. Certs provide the
hr dept. the credentals that you can do the job, the rest is
up to you. If you don't know how to do the job, no matter
what degree or cert you have, it will get around that you
can't do the job.

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No surprise.

by stan In reply to Certifications don't work ...

A proven record in real-world jobs is always more valuable.

I've worked at places where the least competent people were the most interested in certifications and therefore had the most. (I'm not saying this is a general rule.)

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Best of both worlds

by instrumentality In reply to No surprise.

I am currently pursuing my first certification - CISA. I have more than a decade of experience in IT and almost three years dealing specifically with risk management. I have always shied away from certs in the past because I felt that on-the-job knowledge was far and above more important than being able to pass a test. However, after much resistance, I've found that the more I study for my upcoming exam, the more it helps me gain a broader and deeper understanding of what I do from a conceptual standpoint.

Hiring someone with certs and no real world experience is foolish. Hiring someone with real world experience and no certs is a much safer bet. But hiring someone with real world experience and then putting them on the path toward certification seems to be a worthwhile investment.

Of course, it all depends on the specific certification in question and how one prepares for it.

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