What are this year’s most sought-after skills and certifications? Robert Half Technology’s latest salary guide for tech pros (registration required) offers some insights. The firm’s survey of 2,500 CIOs in the United States resulted in the following list:
- Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE)
- Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
- CompTIA A+
- Microsoft SQL Server
Some 61 percent of those CIOs told Robert Half that it was “challenging” to find tech pros with the necessary skills, and 37 percent indicated that staying up-to-date with the latest technology is the “greatest source of pressure” on those who work in the technology industry.
How does Robert Half’s list match up against the assessments of other analyst firms? A few months ago, David Foote, chief analyst at Foote Partners LLC, offered up a snapshot of the certified and non-certified skills that had seen the biggest gains in value since the beginning of 2016. Among those skills that saw premium pay increases of 25-50 percent:
- GIAC Enterprise Defender (GCED)
- GIAC Certified Firewall Analyst (GCFW)
- EC-Council Certified Security Analyst (ECSA)
- Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC-Level 3)
- EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI)
- CompTIA Server+
- Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (all)
Other valued certifications included:
- PMI Program Management Professional (PgMP)
- Certified Cyber Forensics Professional (CCFP)
- Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE)
- GIAC Secure Software Programmer-Java (GSSP-JAVA)
- Six Sigma Master Black Belt and Black Belt
While there is some overlap between these firms’ respective lists, most notably with regard to CompTIA and Microsoft-related skills, there’s also quite a bit of difference. Simply put, the certifications and skills that earn the heftiest pay premiums aren’t always the ones with the most widespread demand; someone with a handful of highly specialized security certs on their résumé can expect to bring home a hefty paycheck, but the number of open positions requiring those skills are relatively low in comparison to, say, Java or .NET.
In the latest edition of Dice’s annual Salary Survey, the highest-paying skills all involved Big Data or cloud. Those included SAP HANA (average annual salary in 2015: $154,749), Cassandra ($147,811), Cloudera ($142,835), Platform-as-a-Service ($140,894), and OpenStack ($137,579).
Tech unemployment hit 2.4 percent in August, a slight dip from 2.9 percent in July, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For many tech pros, it’s a solid job market. But as the above lists demonstrate, specializing in a few key skills can increase your earning potential even more.