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Certification Pays For IT Security Pros

Companies are willing to pay more for IT security professionals with certification.

IT security professionals were in high demand even before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, and they continue to outpace their IT peers in compensation and bonus pay for certification, according to a recent research study.

Industry regulation, such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which has an April 14 deadline for compliance with privacy rules, and high-profile hacker incidents are encouraging more IT workers to pursue security certification to become skilled in intrusion detection or database security, says David Foote, chief research officer at Foote Partner.

According to Foote Partners' study, which surveyed 29,600 IT workers in North America and Europe, 95% of respondents say their companies are matching or increasing security spending this year versus last year. Some of that spending is going toward paying for security training and certification or bonuses for those who obtain such certification. For the second quarter, bonuses for IT security certification increased to 8.6% of base pay, compared with 7.6% in the year-ago quarter. Directors of security for instance who earn salaries of $150,000 can expect bonuses of $29,000.

Security certifications are valuable to Bill Kasko, division director for Robert Half Technology, who hires consultants for the consulting firm to fill contract positions. "Finding a network administrator today is a dime a dozen," Kasko says, but "finding a network administrator with Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert certification is a little bit different." Because there aren't a lot of people with high-end security training, Kasko says, employers are willing to compensate workers at a higher rate.

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