<p>NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Technical certifications, that alphabet soup that shows a prospective or current IT staffer has successfully completed specific training, are fast becoming "the comfort food" of choice for employers, a new report says. And while credit union executives frequently report that one big challenge in attracting and hanging on to the best and brightest IT staffers is the CU's ability to pay, the cost of those technical certifications seems to be on the rise. For the first time, premium bonus pay for technical skill certifications now exceeds that for standalone skills, according to the "2002 Trend Report: Technical Skills and Certification Pay" from Foote Partners, a research firm that tracks nearly 30,000 IT workers and more than 1,800 employers. "Clearly, employers are more suspicious than ever of workers' self-marketing of their skills acumen and now perceive certifications as solid, more meaningful normative measures for comparing IT workers, whether currently employed or candidates for hire," said David Foote, president and chief research officer at Foote Partners. The report found that, "despite a sour economy, overall premium bonus pay for 53 certifications . has risen a healthy 4 percent since the end of 2000 to an average 8.3 percent of base salary. . In contrast, premium pay for the 83 technical skills (without certifications) tracked in this research fell 13.3 percent in 2001, to a current median average of 8.1 percent of base pay." Among the hottest certifications, the report found, were Certified Novell Engineer, GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst, Certified Unix Security Administrator and Microsoft Certified Database Administrator. Weeks or months of classes and testing are required to earn such certificates. Foote said, "We're being told by managers that certifications demonstrate greater commitment to job and career, which may be the equivalent of `comfort food' to employers in these uncertain times." In addition to security, the Foote Partners report also predicts increasing efforts to retain good help in the other hot areas through at least early 2003. "Employers are more aggressively seeking ways to retain and motivate their very best workers with larger and sometimes additional bonuses for skills and certifications, especially in the areas of database, web/e-commerce and applications development," Foote said. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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