Where Cross-Certification Flourishes
Four job functions reported a higher than average incidence of cross-certification. These include respondents working in the systems, enterprise, and architecture arena along with program and project managers, data management and analysis professionals, and those working in business operations. In contrast, those working in IT audit and risk management, telecommunications, and business analysis tend to focus on a single certification category as part of their professional development.
There are numerous benefits to diversifying one’s skill set through obtaining multiple certifications across technological or business-related areas. Bettering one’s economic status is certainly a plus. On average, those holding certifications in more than one category earn anywhere from 6.6 percent 7.5 percent more than their counterparts who don’t hold multiple certifications. Those early in their career see a more significant boost, upwards of 20 percent, from certifying across categories.
Crossing certification categories benefits a variety of job functions as well. IT professionals working in the areas of help desk/support/service management as well networking and infrastructure saw a positive salary differential ranging between 16-18 percent compared to their counterparts with certifications in a single category. Respondents with multiple certifications and working in data management/analytics/business intelligence and IT audit and risk management also saw salary lifts greater than the norm of 7.5 percent.
Bear in mind not all certifications are created or valued by the marketplace equally. Some certifications require a significant investment in time and money. As such, they provide more extensive training and skills development. Others are meant to provide the basic skills needed to accomplish a task. Take the project management category for example. For U.S. respondents who hold both a Microsoft certification and a project management certification, the overall average salary is $95,619. This ranges from $88,693 for those who hold the CompTIA Project+ to $104,947 for those who are Microsoft certified and PMP® certified.
The Big Picture
For the individual IT professional, cross-certification does not necessarily foster a greater sense of job security or satisfaction. Overall, 60 percent reported they felt about the same regarding job security this year compared to last year. There was no difference between single certified and cross-certified respondents. Job satisfaction and likelihood to pursue a new employment situation also showed no difference between the two groups.
As for professional development, those who are cross-certified did not indicate they were more likely to train in the prior year compared to those with certifications in one category. However, those who are cross-certified are more apt to use multiple methods to stay informed and advance their skills. These include methods such as contributing to a blog, downloading white papers and attending conferences and seminars. As for formalized training, this group is particularly fond of on-demand learning methods.
Compensation, job satisfaction, and the sheer joy of training aside, another reason to consider cross-certification might be to help fill an organizational skills gap. The IT decision-makers (ITDMs) surveyed resoundingly indicated that skills gaps are a real concern for their organizations. Three out of four ITDMs (74 percent) reported they are currently suffering from a skills gap or expect to in the near future. Increasing one’s base set of capabilities and the benefits they bring to the organization may serve as a buffer should the economy slow down and staff reductions become necessary.