Pay for non-certified US ICT workers rises

The income gap between qualified and uncertified staff is closing. Todd R Weiss reports

Continuing a recent trend, the average pay for US ICT workers with technical certifications continued to drop in the July-September quarter by an average of 2%, while pay for non-certified technology workers rose by an average of 1.4%, according to a study done by research firm Foote Partners.

The 2% drop for certified workers was the largest quarterly decline since 2004, according to the study.

For the year to date, pay for workers who hold at least one of the 129 certifications tracked by Foote’s studies is down by an average of 1.2%. That’s in marked contrast to an average 4.8% increase in pay for uncertified workers with specific ICT skills in the last six months. Uncertified workers have seen an average 7% increase over the last full year, according to the study.

“There doesn’t seem to be anything to boost the pay of [those having] certification,” says David Foote, the company’s CEO and chief research officer. At current rates, pay for non-certified ICT workers will probably equal the pay for certified workers sometime within the next year. That last happened in the fourth quarter of 2001, Foote says.

The shifting pay patterns date back five years, when many companies began deciding that they were overpaying for some workers with certified ICT skills and that the extra expense wasn’t worth it, Foote says. Pay cuts were even greater during the downturn between 2001 and 2004, when reductions in pay for uncertified workers were larger, widening the pay gap between workers. That began to change in 2004, after the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accounting reform and Investor Protection Act of 2002 kicked in and companies began paying more for ICT skills, whether or not workers were certified, he says.

It’s not enough, he says, for ICT workers today to just possess the technical skills needed to do their jobs. Possessing better skills in working with colleagues and having a better understanding of the business and market are growing in importance.

“Companies can find people with ICT skills, but they need people who also have other skills,” including being business, product and service thinkers, Foote says. “Those other needs are just superseding the demand that they be certified.”

The Foote study covers premium skills pay for ICT workers possessing a wide range of 253 certified and uncertified job skills. The study included 13,240 participants in North America from more than 1,800 public and private sector companies and organisations.

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