Do IT certifications still matter?

IT certifications are a hot topic. But are they necessary?

IT certifications are a hot topic. While the industry continues to invest in them as a way to validate an employee’s skill set and capabilities -- and while they’re often associated with salary increases -- they’re time-consuming and expensive to complete.

A new report by Global Knowledge, an IT training and learning services company, explored the value of IT certifications in its 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report. How does your experience stack up? Here’s a look at its findings.

IT certifications benefit the business 

Being certified improves workers’ performance, the report found. IT decision makers and staff reported direct benefits of certification, including performing work faster (44 percent), having sought-after expertise within their organization (39 percent), implementing system efficiencies (33 percent) and deploying products and services more efficiently (23 percent). 

They also benefit your wallet

In the U.S. and Canada, certified IT staff make nearly $8,400 more than noncertified counterparts -- equal to an 11.7 percent pay increase. For IT decision-makers, the difference is slightly lower, at 8.9 percent or $9,200.

4 in 5 IT employees have certifications

Eighty-two percent of IT workers today have certifications, the report found, with each of those people averaging about three. Half of the respondents earned their most recent certification within the last year. 

Certifications lead to more certifications

IT pros who are currently certified are more likely to be pursuing new certifications, the report found. Seventy percent of those who have a certification are engaged in certification-focused training now, or have plans to do so in the coming year. This compares to 48 percent for those yet to earn their first certification; essentially, less than half of those who aren’t certified have taken the steps to change this status, even though there are economic benefits to doing so. 

Microsoft certifications are big

This year, 36 percent of respondents report holding a Microsoft certification -- more than any other type of certification. Next are Cisco certifications, which account for 31 percent of respondents; cybersecurity or privacy certifications (26 percent); CompTIA (22 percent) and ITIL/ITSM (21 percent). The most popular certification areas include: application development, database, cloud, help desk, networking, operating systems and servers, Linux, cybersecurity and virtualization. 

Moneymaking certs are in cybersecurity

Certifications in cybersecurity hold the top spots for salary. This year, six of the top 20 are cybersecurity certifications and four are listed in the top five: ISACA’s CRISC, CISM, CISA and CISSP. Top cybersecurity certification salaries range from an average of $110,634 for a CISA certification to $127,507 for a CRISC certification. The next highest moneymaker is in cloud computing certs -- specifically those from AWS --which reported 27.5 percent higher salaries than average ($101,755 versus $79,796).

Higher salaries, better work performance, business support and the proliferation of certifications in the workplace all point to a worthwhile investment. With no signs of slowing down, it's a perfect opportunity to take advantage of their benefits.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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