Certification Magazine's 2009 Salary Survey1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
Further, we continue to see that education level also is a factor in determining annual salary. In findings that appear to deviate slightly from last year’s research, the majority of U.S. respondents who are currently in school (9.3 percent) reported earning less than $20,000 this year — compared to an average annual salary of $46,490 last year. Considering last year’s responses factored in global survey takers, this discrepancy is all the more significant, and one might wonder if the recession played a role.
Then again, the majority of individuals with a professional degree seemed to fare better, reporting earnings of between $55,000 and $74,999. These are significantly higher than last year’s average annual salary of $28,790.
Another finding is that the majority of individuals in each of the other groups — including those with a high school diploma, a two-year associate’s degree, technical training, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree — reported annual earnings between $100,000 and $109,999 this year. These results are somewhat surprising given the vast difference in qualifications and skill sets that exists among these groups.
What has remained constant, however, is the fact that the majority of those who possess a doctorate command the highest annual salary among all groups — 11 percent of those with a doctorate reported earning between $110,000 and $119,999 this year.
Finally, associations can also be drawn between annual salary and the number of years IT professionals are affiliated with a particular organization. Unlike last year, when the majority of employees who had been with their companies for less than a year reported one of the lowest average annual salaries, this year that group, as well as the majority of those who have been with their employer for four years, reported the highest earnings of all the groups: between $110,000 and $119,999.
We should note, however, that discrepancies such as this could have resulted from the fact that this year we’re taking into account the most frequently occurring salary range instead of the average annual salary.
– Deanna Hartley
Certification: A Cost-Effective Pursuit?
Achieving certification, especially in the current economy, may be easier when you don’t have to worry about the cost. Fortunately for the majority of you, your employer took that burden off your mind. According to the 2009 Salary Survey, 51.7 percent of you had your most recent certification paid for by your employer.
However, about 28.8 percent of you were stuck paying your own way. The remainder had their certifications funded by a variety of different sources: reimbursement by their employer (8.7 percent); splitting the cost with their employer (6.8 percent); vendor/voucher (5.7 percent); government/GI Bill (1.4 percent); grant (0.7 percent); scholarship (0.5 percent); and having a friend or relative pay (0.3 percent). A small number of respondents, 2.7 percent, had their certifications paid for by other sources.
Interestingly, compared with 2008, the percentage of employers footing the bill has increased, while the percentage of respondents paying for themselves has decreased.
While preparing for certification, 19.8 percent of respondents spent between $100 and $199 on materials. However, 18.2 percent of respondents managed to get by using free — or no — resources, as they did not spend any money on materials. The next most common amounts spent were $50 to $99 (12.9 percent), $200 to $299 (11.5 percent) and $500 to $999 (8.8 percent).
Overall, about 69 percent of respondents spent less than $300, 79 percent spent less than $500 and 88 percent spent less than $1,000 on materials. These figures are comparable to those seen in last year’s survey.
As far as training and seminars go, nearly half of all respondents bypassed these entirely (48.1 percent). Those who did engage in training and seminars mostly spent larger sums of money. The next highest percentage of respondents, 10.1 percent, spent $2,000 to $2,999. Meanwhile, 9.5 percent spent $1,000 to $1,999; 6.5 percent spent $3,000 to $3,999; and 5.1 percent spent $500 to $999.
In studying for their certification exams, respondents got the most use out of practice exams, on-the-job training and self-study books. These were the top three resources in both the 2007 and 2008 Salary Survey, as well. This year, roughly 70 percent of respondents rated practice exams as extremely or very valuable, while nearly the identical number rated on-the-job training the same way and about 66 percent felt similarly about self-study books. The fourth, fifth and sixth most valuable study materials were instructor-led training at a training center (41.4 percent); product documentation (38.8 percent); and computer-based training and simulations (38.5 percent).
The survey found significant levels of nonuse for the remainder of the rated study materials. In fact, all of these resources showed higher levels of nonuse than they did in last year’s survey. Community and technical college courses had the highest level of nonuse at 71.3 percent, followed by vendor-authorized boot camps at 62.3 percent, brain dumps from Web sites at 59.2 percent, Internet mailing lists and newsgroups at 57.5 percent, and online universities and e-learning at 56.5 percent.
Compared with 2008, there was a slight decrease in the quality of resources. Slightly more than 64 percent of respondents said that the quality of learning materials was excellent or very good, while 59.5 percent felt similarly about the quality of the test or exam they took. Nearly 59 percent thought the overall quality of their educational experience was very good or excellent, while 50.8 percent felt the same about the comprehensiveness of training programs and 42.2 percent said the same about the quality of instructors. These were all decreases from last year’s survey.
So how did respondents feel overall about the value of their most recent certification for the price they paid?
Nearly 48 percent felt the value for the price paid was excellent or very good, while almost 24 percent thought it was good. However, 10.7 percent said it was fair and 4.2 percent said it was poor. These figures are comparable to last year’s data, so opinions on the benefits of certification for the cost have not changed much since 2008.
– Erin Green
How Specialization Factors In
Specialization: The word itself should conjure up positive images. After all, “special” means unique, it means one stands out — in this economic climate, does it mean recession-proof?
Not necessarily. Trends such as “hybrid jobs,” which are positions that blend IT with expertise in another industry — health care, for example — require much more than simply an IT specialization. Often, they entail obtaining another degree in a different subject. And similar trends such as “doing more with less” and budget cuts continue to steal more of the thunder that normally comes with a specialization.
As you might expect, then, this year’s Salary Survey results paralleled the finicky nature of job marketability. While some normally top-performing specializations remained strong in salary numbers, others continued their downward slides. Some stayed in line with last year’s reports.
On the high end, security garnered the greatest number of respondents who make more than $200,000 (2 percent). Security is one area that has bounced back and forth between first place and lower down the top five in recent years, placing fourth last year in terms of average salary by specialization.
The majority of respondents in a wide range of specializations reported an average salary range of $100,000 to $109,999, including application development; database administration; IT instruction; security; software programmer; strategic systems design and implementation; storage design and implementation; network design and implementation; network management; IT project planning and implementation; and information assurance. Of those, storage design and implementation led the pack, with 17 percent of respondents reporting that particular salary range. This comes as no surprise, as this same specialization took second place in last year’s Salary Survey.
This year, in addition to having the most respondents making $100,000 to $109,999, strategic systems design and implementation also had about 9 percent of its respondents making $110,000 to $119,999; 7 percent with $120,000 to $129,999; 5.5 percent with $130,000 to $139,999; and a little over 3 percent with $150,000 to $159,999. This specialization was in first place last year in terms of salary by specialization.