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Recession Puts Spotlight on Certification Benefits

In this market, asthma where "lean IT" is a popular buzzword, physician professionals looking to increase their job security and deliver added value to their organizations are showing a strong interest in setting themselves apart from others by achieving highly recognized certifications.

The economy is on nearly everyone's mind, and with good reason. Two millions jobs will be lost in the U.S. in 2009 and the unemployment rate is expected to rise from 6.5 percent in October 2008 to 8.5 percent by late 2009/early 2010, according to the UCLA Anderson Forecast report. In "The Balance Sheet Recession" essay, UCLA Anderson Forecast Senior Economist David Shulman bluntly stated, "The news from the economy is bad. The recession we had previously hoped to avoid is now with us, in full gale force."

In this market, where "lean IT" is a popular buzzword, professionals looking to increase their job security and deliver added value to their organizations-as well as to help their rumstand out in a pile of hundreds-are showing a strong interest in setting themselves apart from others by achieving highly recognized certifications. A globally respected certification can help organizations identify a seasoned professional and increase the potential employee's chance of being hired or promoted. Some enterprises require a potential employee to hold a certification to even submit an application for certain positions. In this economy, not having certain technical or non-technical certifications can prevent an individual from entering the job market at all.

An ISACA global survey of professionals holding the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) designation delivered some interesting insights about the value of certifications, especially in this difficult economic climate. In all, 1,426 professionals from 83 countries, and representing 20 different industries, participated in the study.

The survey separated certifications into two types: "professional" and "technical." Professional certifications were defined as vendor-neutral and as testing management and business skills. Examples include CISM, the Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) from ISACA, the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) from the Institute of Internal Auditors, Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) from (ISC)2, and the Certified Protection Professional (CPP) from ASIS International. Technical certifications are more likely to be vendor-specific, more technical in nature and may offer multiple levels demonstrating different degrees of experience. Examples of technical certifications for this study included the Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP), Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSA-Security), Security+ (CompTIA Security+), and Global Information Assurance Certification (SANS/GIAC).

In response to a question about the overall importance of a professional certification, 92.3 percent indicated that their professional certifications are important to demonstrate competency in their job, 88.7 percent felt that they are important in gaining professional recognition, 82.9 percent pointed to their importance in gaining recognition from peers, and 77 percent felt they are important in qualifying for a new position. In addition, more than half (61.9 percent) of respondents said that they intend to pursue additional professional certifications.