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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Certification doesn't always let you choose your own adventure. Sometimes when you want to expand your knowledge of a particular technology or topic, there are a plethora of options and you can take as much time as you like whittling them down. It's probably more often the case, on the other hand, that the menu of choices doesn't stretch very far to begin with.
This can be especially true when you're seeking out so-called "vendor-neutral" certifications. Generally speaking, of course, IT certifications are of two types: those issued by a vendor that are typically product-centered or at least product-oriented, and those issued by professional associations and organizations that focus on a given technology without, for the most part, addressing a particular product or products.
For example, you could learn about Linux by getting a certification from Red Hat, which creates and markets its own Linux distros and technologies, or you could learn about Linux by getting a certification from the Linux Professional Institute. Either way, you'd learn a lot about Linux. You'd just be getting a "vendor-specific" approach from Red Hat, and a vendor-neutral view from LPI.
Each type of credential, vendor-specific and vendor-neutral has its champions. There are quite a few vendor-neutral credentials in some areas, and far fewer options in others. Which got us to thinking: Where are certified IT professionals looking for vendor-neutral credentials and not finding them?
We first addressed this topic in the 10-question follow-on section of our 2018 Salary Survey, then moved it to the main body of the survey for the 2019 Salary Survey. Where is there the greatest demand among IT professionals for vendor-neutral credentials? Here's what we learned:
Q: We really need more vendor-neutral certifications for which ONE of the following specializations or technologies?
Cloud — 25.5 percent
Security — 22.1 percent
Big Data — 16.4 percent
Networking — 8.4 percent
Programming — 8.1 percent
Helpdesk / IT Support — 5.8 percent
Project Management — 4.9 percent
Linux — 2.7 percent
Cloud has surged ahead of security since the last time that we asked this question, but there's still a fairly strong consensus around cloud computing, security, and to a lesser extent Big Data, as being the areas where certified IT professionals would most like to have more vendor-neutral certification options.
We mentioned this last year, but it still seems odd that security would stand out. There are some leading vendor-specific security credentials, like those offered by Check Point and Symantec. Yet with organizations like (ISC)2, ISACA, EC-Council, CompTIA, and the SANS Institute all offering multiple vendor-neutral security credentials, options abound.
Cloud computing is an area where the growth of technology is presently explosive, and also where vendor-specific credentials, like those offered by Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, predominate. So that makes senses. There's definitely room for growth in the vendor-neutral cloud computing credential arena. And, generally, speaking the same is true of Big Data.
Finally, here are a few of the top recommendations drawn from the catch-all Other category, which included an option for survey respondent suggestions: artificial intelligence/machine learning, blockchain, privacy, capacity management, risk management, agile, and automation.