Average Market Value of Some Certifications Continues to Fall: Report

The market value for hundreds of certifications dropped in the second quarter of 2021, according to a new analysis by Foote Partners. The quarterly average market value of certifications now sits at the lowest level since early 2013, although certain ones continue to earn above-average cash pay premiums. 

Between April and July, the average market values for 546 certifications dropped another 1.1 percent, “currently earning the equivalent of 6.6 percent of base salary on average for a single certification.” If you’re concerned that one of the certs you’ve earned has lost value, you should consult the firm’s (very) comprehensive list

Popular certifications such as CompTIA Advanced Security Practitioner lost value, while others like ISSEP/CISSP and Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect enjoyed significant gains. “Certifications decline in market value for a number of obvious and not so obvious reasons,” the report explained. “Pay premiums may diminish as a certification expires, is retired, or is replaced with more appropriate certifications as technology evolves. Also, there remains a lingering bias that taking a proctored exam does not confer expertise in a subject on the test taker, especially when the pass rate is 70 percent correct answers.” 

The certification industry, the report added, “has fought back against this bias by adding laboratory requirements and even peer review panels that decide if the candidate has qualified to receive designation.” In a weird way, the falling market value for some certifications is a sign that technologists are taking their jobs and careers seriously, if so many of them are devoting the necessary resources to earning certain certs.

Although not all technologists believe they need certs for their job, many recruiters and hiring managers are reassured whenever they see certifications on an application (especially in complex sub-industries such as cybersecurity). In addition, other studies have shown that possessing certifications can translate into high salaries; a recent report by analyst firm Global Knowledge, for instance, broke down the six-figure salaries associated with certifications such as Google Certified Professional Data Engineer and AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate.  

If you’re interested in obtaining certifications, the cost and time needed to earn one (or more) might seem like a bit of an impediment. However, discuss with your manager whether there’s budget available for you to attend classes and take exams; you can argue that obtaining the cert (on their dime) will make you a more valuable and skilled employee.