20 technology certifications that are paying off

Certifications ranging from software lifecycle management to cloud and database architecture to project management are hot skill areas for the year ahead.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released estimates that more than one in four of the working-age population has obtained a professional certification, license or educational certificate apart from a post-secondary degree awarded by a college or university. For managers and professionals in the fast-changing digital and tech economy, certifications may be the only way to keep skills current and relevant. Areas in hot demand right now -- such as data science and analysis, cloud development, and open-source scripting languages -- were not even around five years ago.

Certifications and accreditations are delivering positive results for both IT professionals and their employers. Foote Partners released its latest estimates of pay and premium rates for a range of IT skills, and finds that IT professionals with certifications are continuing to see an edge in their compensation. The trend continues upward in the aftermath of the economic trough of 2008-2010.

Extra pay specifically awarded to talented IT professionals for 354 noncertified IT skills and 296 IT certifications---also known as ‘skills premiums’--- increased in the fourth quarter of 2013, the consultancy finds.  "It is only the third time since 2010 that both certified and noncertified skills categories have recorded pay gains in the same calendar quarter, the result of the reversal of a long running slump in market values for certifications dating back to 2006," the consultancy observes.

The skills premium index has been tracking more than 2,500 North American employers and 150,000 IT professionals since 1999.

The top gainers in the last quarter include the following certification categories:

  • Systems Administration/Engineering certifications: +2.5% (in market value)
  • Information Security certifications: +2.0%
  • Database certifications: +1.2%
  • Networking & Communications certifications: +1.2%
  • Architecture/Project Management/Process certifications: +1.0%
  • Applications Development/Programming Lang. certifications: +0.9%

Here are the top 20 certifications that Foote predicts will continue to increase in value during the first half of 2014:

  1. Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)
  2. CWNP/Certified Wireless Network Expert
  3. GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst (GCFA)
  4. GIAC Certified Penetration Tester (GPEN)
  5. GIAC Web Application Penetration Tester (GWAPT)
  6. HP ASE Cloud Architect V2
  7. HP/Master ASE--Data Center and Cloud ArchitectV1
  8. Information Systems Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP/CISSP)
  9. InfoSys Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP/CISSP)
  10. Microsoft Certified Solutions Master(all)
  11. Open Group Certified Architect (Open CA)
  12. Open Group Master Architect
  13. Oracle Certified Professional, MySQL 5 Developer
  14. Oracle Certified Expert MySQL 5.1 Cluster Database Administrator
  15. Oracle Certified Professional MySQL 5 Database Administrator
  16. PMI Risk Management Professional
  17. PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)
  18. Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)
  19. Teradata 12 Certified Enterprise Architect
  20. VMware Certified Design Expert - Cloud (VCDX-Cloud)

(Thumbnail photo: HubSpot.)


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