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This is Why You Should Cross-Certify

By Greg Timpany

Each year as the data from the Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Survey is put through the analysis process, certain trends become clearer. One of those is the prevalence of IT professionals who pursue certifications across multiple categories. In the 2017 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report highlighting the results of the Survey, two-thirds of the certified IT respondents indicated they held at least one certification in multiple categories. This ranged from 63 percent in Latin America to 69 percent in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) markets with North American and Asia-Pacific regions falling in between.

 

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.

Percentage of IT Professionals Cross-Certified by Job Function

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.

 

Microsoft: A Case Study

The analysis in the IT Skills and Salary Report also revealed over one-third of the certified IT professionals (36 percent) held at least one Microsoft certification. Globally, the average salary for this demographic is $66,146 (median of $62,500). This average ranged from $31,220 in Latin America to $86,150 in North America with Asia/Pacific and EMEA falling in between. The average salary for Microsoft certified respondents in the US is $91,520.

Microsoft is known for excelling in four key areas as well as being a popular cross-certification option. Is holding a certification in another category in addition to the Microsoft certification associated with greater salaries? The answer is yes not only for the U.S. but for other regions as well. For example, U.S. IT professionals who possess a Microsoft credential and one from the categories below see average salaries that are significantly above the norm.

 

Microsoft and...  Mean Median
Citrix $107,837 $102,500
Amazon Web Services (AWS) $121,590 $120,000
Business Process $113,410 $113,000
Cloud (non-AWS) $111,542 $114,000
Internet / Web Development $96,510 $91,520
ITIL® / ITSM $99,910 $96,500
Project Management $95,619 $90,000
Security and Privacy $93,178 $90,000
VMware $100,795 $95,000

 

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 self-paced online 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.

 

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