Mid-Year Tech Skills Value Report: What’s Up… and What’s Dropping

Tech professionals need to carefully consider a number of factors before attaining a new certification or re-certifying an existing certification, based on data reported in the latest IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index from Foote Partners, LLC.

That’s because the average market value for 479 tech certifications declined 1.2 percent overall during the first quarter of 2019. Worse, the premium that employers are willing to pay for specific certified skills is near its lowest overall average cash-value point in five years, noted David Foote, Foote Partners’ chief analyst.

“Many older certifications are still paying premiums, but we are learning that the value of certifications—especially those supporting vendor-specific technologies—have ‘expiration dates,’” Foote explained.

Conversely, the cash premiums (or guaranteed bonus above base salary) that employers are willing to pay for the 554 non-certified skills tracked by the firm is now near a 19-year high.

Here’s a look at the non-certified tech skills that have gained the most in market value through the first part of 2019, and the certified skills that are still commanding above average pay.

Non-Certified Winners

If your paycheck could use a boost, consider adding one or more of the following skills to your technical toolkit. These non-certified skills not only logged steep gains in market value over the six-month period ending April 1—they are garnering premium pay of 16 percent or more of base salary.

Big Data Analytics
Although the marketplace for the entire category of Big Data skills has been surprisingly volatile, with 38 skills changing value in the first quarter, Big Data analytics skills and certifications have increased in value every quarter for the past two years.

Apache Pig
Market Value Increase: 21.4 percent
Average Pay Premium: 17 percent of base salary

MapReduce

Scala
Market Value Increase: 13.3 percent
Average Pay Premium: 17 percent of base salary

Metadata Design and Development

Security Architecture and Model
Market Value Increase: 6.3 percent
Average Pay Premium: 17 percent of base salary

Amazon RedShift

Master Data Management
Market Value Increase: 14.3 percent
Average Pay Premium: 16 percent of base salary

Smart Contract

Blockchain
Blockchain has gained traction over the past few years, with major firms such as IBM, Microsoft, HP and SAP making significant investments (and rolling out blockchain-as-as-service solutions).

Cloudera Impala

Apache Hive
Market Value Increase: 6.7 percent
Average Pay Premium: 16 percent of base salary

Risk Analytics/Assessment
Market Value Increase: 6.7 percent
Average Pay Premium: 16 percent of base salary

Tech Certifications Bucking the Trend

Another reason why certifications lost 3.3 percent of their value in the last twelve months: Employers are finding that simply passing a test doesn’t always translate to on-the-job success.

To protect your certification investment, select programs that include hands-on activities and labs, skills assessments and so forth, Foote advised. Also, make sure to confer your expertise by offering employers examples of your work, code samples and portfolios. “Think carefully before re-certifying older certs that could be retired soon,” he added. 

Also, as more tech professionals become certified, there is an increase in supply, so the value of a popular certification may actually drop.

The following certifications (listed by category) are bucking the trend, having increased between 10 percent and 33 percent in cash market value in the last six months (and continuing to earn premium pay):

Project Management:

PMI Program Management Professional (PgMP)
Average Premium Pay: 16 percent of base salary

Applications Development:

Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP)
Average Premium Pay: 15 percent of base salary

AWS Certified DevOps Engineer-Professional
Average Premium Pay: 11 percent of base salary

Info/Cyber Security:

Information Systems Security Engineering Professional (ISSEP/CISSP)

Information Systems Security Management Professional (ISSMP/CISSP)
Average Pay Premium: 15 percent of base salary

Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE)
Average Pay Premium: 15 percent of base salary

EC-Council Certified Incident Handler (ECIH)
Average Pay Premium: 14 percent of base salary

GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA) 
Average Pay Premium: 12 percent of base salary

GIAC Exploit Researcher and Advanced Penetration Tester (GXPN)
Average Pay Premium: 12 percent of base salary

Business Analysis:

Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP)  
Average Pay Premium: 12 percent of base salary

Biggest Tech Certification Losers

The following certs recorded the largest market value losses (ranging from 22.5 to 42.9 percent) in the six months ending April 1, 2019, and are currently paying average-to-below average premiums of 4 percent to 9 percent of base salary.

HP ATP – Cloud Administrator V1 

HP ASE – Vertica Big Data Solutions Administrator V1

HP ATP – Big Data Vertica Solutions V1

EMC Information Storage Associate

CWNP/Certified Wireless Network Administrator

CSX Cybersecurity Practitioner

Open Group Certified Architect 

EC-Council Certified Security Analyst

Oracle Certified Associate – Java SE Programmer

EMC Technology Architect – Specialist 

HDI Customer Service Representative 

NetApp Certified Data Administrator, ONTAP

SAS Certified Base Programmer for SAS 9

Certified Healthcare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (ISC2)

SolarWinds Certified Professional

VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Network

VMware Certified Professional 6.5 – Data Center Virtualization

Cisco Certified Network Associate – CyberOps

EMC Technology Architect – Expert 

SAS Certified Advanced Programmer for SAS 9