Study: Pay for noncertified IT workers continues to rise

It's approaching the pay levels of certified workers

Continuing a recent trend, the average pay for IT workers with technical certifications continued to drop in the last quarter by an average of 2%, while pay for noncertified IT workers rose by an average of 1.4%, according to a study done by IT workforce research firm Foote Partners LLC.

The 2% drop for certified IT workers was the largest quarterly decline since 2004, according to the 22-page study, which was released Wednesday.

For the year to date, pay for workers who hold at least one of the 129 IT certifications tracked by Foote's studies is down by an average of 1.2%. That's in marked contrast to an average 4.8% increase in pay for uncertified workers with specific IT skills in the last six months. Uncertified workers have seen an average 7% increase over the last full year, according to the study.

"There doesn't seem to be anything to boost the pay of [those having] certification," said David Foote, CEO and chief research officer of the New Canaan, Conn.-based company. At current rates, pay for noncertified IT workers will probably equal the pay for certified workers sometime within the next year. That last happened in the fourth quarter of 2001, he said.

The shifting pay patterns date back five years, when many companies began deciding that they were overpaying for some workers with certified IT skills and that the extra expense wasn't worth it, Foote said. Pay cuts were even greater during the IT downturn between 2001 and 2004, when reductions in pay for uncertified workers were larger, widening the pay gap between workers. That began to change in 2004, after the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accounting reform and investor protection act of 2002 kicked in and companies began paying more for IT skills, whether or not workers were certified, Foote said.

It's not enough, he said, for IT workers today to just possess the technical skills needed to do their jobs. Possessing better skills in working with colleagues and having a better understanding of the business and market are growing in importance.

"Companies can find people with IT skills, but they need people who also have other skills," including being business, product and service thinkers, Foote said. "Those other needs are just superseding the demand that they be certified."

The Foote study covers premium skills pay for IT workers possessing a wide range of 253 certified and uncertified job skills. The study included 13,240 participants in North America, with data compiled from confidential data provided by IT, business and human resources executives from more than 1,800 public and private sector companies and organizations.  

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