Another Nail in the IT Certification Coffin

IT certifications are worth less than ever, while the value of non-certified technology skills has surged, according to a new study.

IT certifications are worth less than ever, and the value of non-certified technology skills has surged, according to the third-quarter edition of the "Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index" from Foote Partners, a New Canaan, Conn., IT workforce research firm, on Nov. 1.

"Certified skills pay has not just flat lined, its in the negative. This is big news if youre certified and youre thinking about getting recertified," said Foote.

"This trend is in the fourth quarter, that pay for certifications is on the wane, while non-certified skills are growing in pay."

During the third quarter of 2006, pay for 129 certified skills fell 2 percent in value, in the largest quarterly decline in two years.

In the accumulated first three quarters of 2006, the pay for these certifications slipped an average of 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the pay for noncertified IT skills only grew—1.4 percent in the third quarter of 2006, 4.8 percent in the second and third quarters combined, and an abrupt 7 percent increase over 12 months.

David Foote, CEO and chief research officer at Foote Partners, said that its not that employers arent willing to pay a premium for certifications, its that the market price has fallen significantly from its year-ago levels.

"Across all 253 skills we survey, the value of noncertified skills is growing at a rate five times greater than certification pay. And theres no sign that this is going to change any time soon," said Foote.

Certifications are losing value because employers are looking for more in their workers than the ability to pass an exam; they want business-articulate IT pros.

"Its not just having a solution; youve got to be able to sell it to management and convince them to give you the budget. You have to be able do more than come up with the answer; you need both the technical chops and an understanding of the customers. I call it delivering results," said Foote.

For the professionals that comprehend ITs role in business, can meet customers moving-target deadlines and work well with others, in most cases, not being certified in their technical skills is not going to matter, the report argues.

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