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NEW CANAAN, Conn. – IT managers in credit union land who need to justify their training budgets to the bean counters in Finance can take heart, they’re not alone. Organizations worldwide are now more willing to pay a premium for certifications than for standalone technical skills, reversing a long-standing trend, according to a regularly taken, massive survey of IT professionals and their managers. Truth be told, it’s the truth that matters, and workers who have the certificates that show they’ve passed the training required to keep current with the changing technical demands of solutions from Microsoft to Novell to Sun (and the various security specialties) are now profiting more than those who just say on their resumes that they can do it. According to David Foote, president of Foote Partners, overall premium pay for certifications has risen nearly 1% in the past two years to an average 8% of base salary while overall premium pay for technical skills has dropped 25% in two years to an average of about 7% of base salary. “The gap in average pay between certifications and standalone skills that had been as wide as 2.5% of base pay in favor of skills just a few years ago has been dramatically reversed and continues to widen in favor of certifications, which helps managers struggling to save training budgets from extinction,” Foote said of the latest findings of the Foote Partners Quarterly Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index. “They’re also helping IT pros keep their jobs and get considered for new jobs now that resume-scanning is in vogue,” he said. Foote Partners has been tracking premium pay for 140 technical certifications and skills and base salaries for 85 different IT jobs among about 32,000 workers at 1,830 private and public enterprises in North America and Europe since 1997. “The good news for IT professionals? Even though the economy remains in the doldrums, bonus premium pay tied specifically to 55 IT certifications remained steady in 2002,” Foote said. “The bad news? Pay for 85 standalone skills continued its two-year downward slide in the current depressed economic climate,” Foote said. Why the switch? “Because employers faced with deep budget cuts have become more suspicious of workers’ self-marketing of their skills acumen,” Foote said in his report. “Many report that they now regard certifications as more solid and meaningful normative measures for comparing IT workers.” And, he said, “A new discovery in our 2002 research is that managers are apt to use certifications as bargaining chips to secure and protect training allocations as they come under scrutiny, and as leverage in negotiating compensation packages for essential workers. “Certifications arguably offer cost-conscious executives something more substantial and easier to valuate when validating investment in IT human capital.” Some of the strongest areas for growth in bonus pay particularly are in certifications for IT security, project management and, while flat last year, over the past two years Novell and Linux engineers. Areas falling in value included application development and programming languages, general certifications and Internet specialties like Webmaster, according to Foote’s research. -

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