IT professionals seeking certifications in the coming months may get their best return with cloud and security-related certifications. Agile-related training won't hurt, either.
But there are many other skills that are more likely to be valued by employers than others, according to the most recent quarterly tracking analysis by Foote Partners. This survey calculates skill rankings on what employers are willing to pay.
Skills sets tracked by Foote cover two broad areas: Certified and noncertified. Certified skills are typically vendor-driven and, while potentially useful for a job, are part of product marketing. Noncertified skills reflect actual market demand by employers.
Foote's rankings are based on data from than 2,600 employers. Value is determined by cash premium, or money that is added to a paycheck in the form a bonus.
Using a bonus, instead of a salary increase, gives employers the flexibility to shift money around as demands for certain skills rise and fall, Foote said.
Foote's list of the top 10 noncertified skills:
- SAP BODI (Business Objects Data Integrator)
- Business performance management (software/systems)
- SAP GTS (Global Trade Services)
- Predictive Analytics and Modeling
- Oracle Exadata
- SAP FI - FSCM (Financial Supply Chain Management)
- SAP MM (Materials Management)
- Mobile operating systems
While JavaFX, an Oracle-developed platform for rich Internet applications leads the list, Foote sees it as a niche skill, and not one with long staying power. But that won't be the case for Oracle Exadata, the in-memory system skills, Scrum, and predictive analytics as being the skills most likely to gain in value over the long-run, he said.
The value of certifications with employers has declined, but it is beginning to rise again, especially as demand for security and cloud certifications increase.
The certifications are offered by vendors to the employees of user companies. Vendors train the company's employees, who are certified based on a written test. Foote said standards were loose, however, and raised doubts about the value of a certification. Improvements have been made, however, and certification in some of the more demanding areas, such as architecture, may depend on successful examination by a peer review board, similar to the process a university might use for a student defending a thesis.
The top 10 certified skills:
- SAS Certified Advanced Programmer
- GIAC Certified Penetration Tester
- InfoSys Security Management Professional (ISSMP/CISSP)
- SAS Certified Base Programmer
- HP Master ASE - Storage Solutions Architect V1
- Microsoft Certified Solution Developer: Applications Lifecycle Management
- Linux Professional Institute certification
- CWNP/Certified Wireless Network Administrator
- HP/Master ASE - Data Center and Cloud Architect V1
- Oracle Certified Master, Java SE Developer
What's helping certifications are cloud computing and security. Major retailers have suffered costly data breaches, and companies are seen as more willing to spend on security.
Not too long ago, "cybersecurity was something that only a handful of industries (mostly public sector) were investing in," said Foote, "but now you are seeing it everywhere."
The IT certifications that are showing strong growth in pay premiums and are likely to gain in the next three to six months are around cloud, architecture, agile, systems/networking, security, data and data center.