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Careers: Pay Gap Is Closing Between Certified And Noncertified Tech Skills, Says Report

Over the last year, pay for noncertified IT skills grew nearly 70% more than pay for certifications, according to the survey, which tracked the market value of 212 IT skills and certifications.

Historically, having formal certification in specific IT skills meant a boost in pay for many tech workers. But now the pay gap between certified and non-certified skills seems to be shrinking, according to a new report by research firm Foote Partners LLC.

Over the last year, pay for non-certified IT skills grew nearly 70% more than pay for certifications, or 4.4% versus 2.6% respectively, according to the Foote survey, which tracked the market value of 212 IT skills and certifications.

Based on the salary analysis of 52,000 IT professionals at 1,820 North American companies, Foote found that premium pay for 103 non-certified skills in the first quarter of 2006 averaged about 7.1% of base salary for a single skill, up from 6.8% in the same quarter last year. Among the non-certified skill categories examined were networking, operating systems, database, and Web development.

While certified skills still garner a bigger average pay premium—or about 8.3% of base pay for a single skill—compared with non-certified skills, the pay gap appears to be closing, according to Foote.

This seems to indicate that some employers are beginning to more generously reward for tech workers who have solid technical, industry, and business experience yet lack formal certification for their skill sets, according to Foote.

During the economic downturn in the early part of this decade, many companies preferred keeping and hiring IT workers with certifications, says Foote. However, now, some companies are finding they have fewer staffers in their IT organizations who have solid customer-facing, business and process skills.

"That's where the money is being diverted," president and chief research officer David Foote said in an E-mail.

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