Salary Survey Extra: New certifications and increased income
Posted on
April 20, 2018

Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Does earning new certifications have an immediate impact on your earning power? Let's see what the Salary Survey has to say.

We spend a lot of time around these parts measuring, and estimating, and educatedly guessing about the impact on individual earning power of holding one or more IT certifications. It’s a complicated topic, and there are many factors in play, and a lot of the time we find ourselves looking a circle that’s not entirely possible to square.

For this latest installment in our ongoing investigation, we looked at three separate items to see whether there is any degree of correlation between them. We asked 2018 Salary Survey respondents to tell us both whether they had gotten any bonus pay in the preceding year, and whether they had been given a raise by their employer.

Another question asked survey takers to indicate the number of new IT certifications that they had earned in the preceding year: none, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 or more. So we know who got raises and bonuses, and we know who got new certifications (and how many). The next thing to ask, then, is whether people who got certs were also more likely to get a raise and/or bonus.

The short answer is: yes, to a limited extent. To go into greater detail, 52 percent of all survey respondents got some sort of bonus or incentive pay from their employers in 2017. And 56.5 percent of all survey respondents got one or more new certifications in 2017. Now let’s see what happens when we compare those two groups:

Total New Certs Earned in 2017 Percentage of Respondents with This Many New Certs who Also Got a Bonus
None 48.6 percent
1 55.3 percent
2 53.2 percent
3 53.7 percent
4 69.6 percent
5 68.8 percent
6 or more 55.4 percent

2018 Salary Survey Data

Certified IT professionals who earned at least one new certification in 2017 were somewhat more likely to have also gotten a bonus than those who did not. And certified IT pros who earned 4 or 5 new certifications were substantially more like to have also gotten a bonus. On the other hand, the overachievers who got six or more new certs are in the same boat as those who only got one.

Bonuses are often given in recognition of workplace achievement, or to reward workers for accomplishing specific objectives. Since getting a certification is both an achievement and a measurable objective, it would make sense for there to be some degree of correlation between getting a certification and receiving a bonus.

We ran the same comparison between survey participants who got a raise in 2017 (67 percent of all respondents) and survey participants who got one or more new certifications in 2017 (same as above).

Total New Certs Earned in 2017 Percentage of Respondents with This Many New Certs who Also Got a Raise
None 67 percent
1 70 percent
2 63 percent
3 66 percent
4 62.5 percent
5 68.8 percent
6 or more 70.2 percent

2018 Salary Survey Data

It would appear that there’s less immediate effect of getting a new certification when it comes to getting a raise. Essentially, the likelihood that you got a raise is more or less consistent whether you got no new certifications at all, or got any specific number of them.

So if you’re planning to get a new IT certification in 2018, then you could have a degree of heightened expectation of also receiving a bonus, but it probably won’t have much effect on whether or not you get a raise.

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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