IT Certification Lounge

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What’s Your Certification Worth?

Posted by imateski on February 12, 2010

By Linda Leung

In terms of salary, it appears that certified IT professionals didn’t suffer too badly during last year’s economic malaise. According to the IT certification holders who responded to the 2010 Global Knowledge/TechRepublic Salary Survey, salaries for the Microsoft certifications held by this year’s respondents actually went up. Other winners were holders of the Project Management Professional (PMP) and Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) certifications. Meanwhile, the VMware Certified Professional certification made its debut in this year’s survey.

Let’s dive in deeper into some of the certifications and their corresponding salaries, as reported by our survey respondents.

PMP – $104,253; ITIL v2 Foundation – $102,128; ITIL v3 Foundation – $101,185

Salaries for these business improvement and project management certifications increased from 2009. The average salary of this year’s survey respondents who hold the PMP certification increased to $104,253 from the $103,100 reported by our 2009 survey respondents. Salaries for ITIL folks also increased. In 2008, the average ITIL v3 Master earned $86,600; in 2010 v3 Foundation certification holders reported an average salary of $101,185.

Six Sigma, another business process improvement certification, made its debut in our survey for 2010, with respondents reporting an average salary of $111,908. The appearance of that certification underscores the belief that employers are willing to pay top dollar for folks with good business and technology skills.

Some employers are requiring a mix of Six Sigma and other business improvement skills. One recent job ad for a Process Improvement Consultant at California HMO Kaiser Permanente called for the individual to have seven years of experience with one or more of the following methodologies: Six Sigma, ITIL, and Total Quality Management (a set of management practices that ensure organizations consistently meet or exceed customer requirements).

Hank Marquis, practice leader of business service management at Global Knowledge holds both the ITIL and Six Sigma certifications. He notes that only 30% of process improvement projects are successful because practitioners didn’t have the knowledge that Six Sigma provides. The addition of Six Sigma to a professional who already holds the ITIL and/or PMP certifications (and vice-versa) will turn that individual into a huge catch.

VMware Certified Professional – $91,271

Since 2008, the VMware Certified Professional certified has made its first appearance in the salary survey. You’ve probably have heard a lot about cloud computing. The benefits to cloud customers include data center operational cost savings, the flexibility to configure servers on the fly, and the automation of routine maintenance tasks. VMware owns the majority of the virtualization market, a technology that’s the basis for cloud computing. Organizations use VMware products to build private clouds or a hybrid public/private cloud.

VCP demonstrates an individual’s expertise in virtual infrastructure based on VMware’s vSphere 4 platform. Certified individuals understand vSphere installation, configuration, management, and troubleshooting.

Cisco Certifications

Salaries for the Cisco certifications held by respondents to this year’s survey decreased from 2009, but they were still higher than the average salaries for Cisco-certified folks in 2008. The average salary of $93,953 for a Cisco Certified Design Associate was the sixth highest salary listed in this year’s survey, and is still a 25% increase from a CCDA’s average salary of $75,000 in 2008.

The second highest Cisco certification salary in this year’s survey ($89,864) was for the Cisco Certified Network Professional designation. Cisco this month announced a major overhaul of this certification by replacing the required exams with those that better reflect a network professional’s job tasks. After July 31, candidates are required to take exams that cover implementing Cisco IP routing, implementing Cisco switched networks, and troubleshooting and maintaining Cisco IP networks. (More information about the changes is available at Cisco’s CCNP site).

Microsoft certifications

While salaries for the Cisco certifications held by this year’s survey respondents went down compared to 2009, the salaries for Microsoft certifications went up. We received responses from Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers (2010 salary of $86,454), Microsoft Certified IT Professionals ($82,044), Microsoft Certified System Administrators ($76,337), Microsoft Certified Professionals ($74,438), Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists – Windows Vista Configure ($71,786), and Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician ($70,197).

The Microsoft certification that saw the highest jump in salary was MCDST. (This is according to the salaries that were reported by Microsoft certification holders responding to the 2010 and 2009 surveys.). Desktop support consistently appears as one of the top three IT skills in demand by CIOs polled by Robert Half Technology in its quarterly surveys, which helps to explain the increase.

Microsoft encourages MCSA and MCSE certified folks to consider pursuing the MCDST certification if their current technical-support responsibilities include troubleshooting, customer service, hardware and software installation, or configuration and upgrades for Windows XP and Microsoft Office. “Adding the MCSDT certification to an MCSA or MCSE certification will broaden your support capabilities and enhance your employability,” according to Microsoft on its MCSDT Web site.

Microsoft is expected to release new certification over the next few months. According to a post on Microsoft’s Born to Learn blog, Microsoft is working on certifications for the following products: Small Business Server; Essential Business Server; Systems Center; SharePoint (both developer and ITPro); Communications Server; Visual Studios; Team Foundation Server; Forefront; Office; Project.

Where the Jobs Are

So what are the job prospects for certification holders? As we’ve discussed in previous newsletters, organizations want IT pros with a mix of business and technical skills. The soft economy has forced organizations to a step back and really examine their processes and question where and how they can be improved.

For experienced folks who want to fill niches and be able to command top dollar, getting certified with Six Sigma, ITIL, PMP and other business process improvement methodologies will help a greatdeal. If you are willing to travel the country as a consultant, that could be lucrative as long as there are few pros who can bridge the gap between Six Sigma and the other methodologies, says Matt Colarusso, branch manager of national at Sapphire Technologies. He adds that the healthcare and banking and finance industries are seeking folks with business analysis and projectmanagement skills.

For newbies wanting to enter IT via technical support, getting any of the Microsoft support certifications is worthwhile, notes Colarusso. For deeper dives into networking protocols, Cisco’s entry-level certifications are good career paths for newbies.

This article is taken from

5 Responses to “What’s Your Certification Worth?”

  1. computing said

    Hey there! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to
    give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading through your posts.
    Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics?

    Thank you so much!

  2. John said

    Great article. On par with the trends in IT that we’re seeing… especially in VMware.

  3. Katie Tam said

    Got my CCNP. Should i go for CCIE?

    • imateski said

      Hi Katie. Congratulations on your CCNP. This cert is a strong asset on your CV and I do believe your marketability as a network professional is very high. What did you specialize in: Wireless, Storage, Routing…?
      I assume you are very proactive and have high career goals since you’re considering CCIE. I’d say go for it! The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert will set you apart from any competition you may be facing now. The CCIE is held by less than 1% of all networking professionals worldwide, so getting this stamped on your CV will truly set you apart as the go-to person for networking advice.
      I’ve started a page for career issues so if you need a more in depth discussion or even a research based career advice, please consider posting your work experience, certs and aspirations on this page

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