Parsing the Global Knowledge 2019 Skills and Salary Report

There's lots of money out there for certified IT skills.

Last February, I wrote an article about preliminary findings from the yearly IT Skills and Salary Report issued by Global Knowledge. As of last week, that report — Global Knowledge 2019 IT Skills and Salary Report — is finally out.


That means I can now revisit the material in its completed state, and provide some (hopefully) interesting summary and commentary. As always, the report is worth downloading and reading, especially for those currently in the job market, or those seeking to hire IT professionals. Let's start with some of the highlights:


? Skills gaps keep widening, now to the point where four-fifths of North American IT departments (81 percent, actually) report that they're affected by a lack of properly skilled and qualified job candidates.
? IT professionals should be interested to learn that salaries are up an average of $5,000 as compared to 2018. (Average global IT salary is $89,732 vs. $109,985 for North America.)
? It comes as no surprise to me, nor should it shock anyone else, that 4 of the 5 top-paying IT certifications are in the area of cloud computing.


Apparently, this is just the first in series of four reports from Global Knowledge this year. The afore-linked 2019 report home page also includes "coming soon" items (in lieu of download buttons) for additional reports to be entitled: IT Decision-Maker Insights, Professional Development and Job Satisfaction, and Looking Forward.


Digging Deeper


This year's report is 27 pages long, and includes a caveat explaining that what's available now is merely a portion of what has previously been lumped into one single monolithic report. The other parts — you guessed it — will come when those other buttons mentioned in the preceding paragraph turn from "coming soon" to "download now" status. That makes this particular report more tightly focused on IT certs and salaries than previous such reports (which also covered all of that other stuff, too).


The primary findings appear on page 3. They include the aforementioned rising tide of compensation for all IT jobs with this notable opening salvo: "Global IT compensation is the highest it's ever been." IT professionals are making more moolah, it seems, because they are getting better at their jobs.


The report ties this directly to "training to add skills that immediately translate to the workplace." Furthermore, the report observes that professional development pays direct and immediate financial dividends to those who take themselves through that process.


The third major point is "Certifications (still) matter," which translates into two basic observations. First, that 17 out of 20 IT professionals hold at least one IT certification, and two-thirds of IT professionals have a new IT certification in their sights for 2019. Finally, the report asserts that top-paying certs vary by region, noting that the top-paying cert for North America differs from the top-paying cert for Latin America.


Compensation information is interesting and shows that North America outstrips the rest of the world in the IT field by a margin of 23 percent more than the global average. Salaries are lowest in Latin America, and more or less the same (though somewhat lower) in EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) versus Asia-Pacific.


See page 4 of the report for more details and some fascinating pie charts (there are good visuals throughout, BTW). The demographics of who's reporting into the survey are interesting, too. Only 29 percent of respondents are "IT grunts'" (non-management technical professionals). Most (43 percent) are mid-level IT pros — that is, managers and team leads.


Another 25 percent of respondents fill senior-level roles (defined as director, CSO, senior engineer, and so forth). The remaining 3 percent are classified as "Executives," handling roles such as CTO, CIO, or CEO. That leads me to an important observation about this survey: I believe it is "top-heavy" in terms of the IT workers captured therein.


My gut feel is that somewhere between 40 and 60 percent of IT workers belong in the "IT Grunt" (non-management) category in terms of the actual population in the workplace. This means that salary info almost certainly skews high, because those who actually responded to the survey reflect more of the higher-paid end of this employment spectrum than the lower paid end.


Of course, as with most pyramids, the base is where most of the working people in IT actually reside. Pages 8 and 9 of the report confirm my sense of "upward skew" in that they show more reporting in from further up the company size and job function continua as well.


That's OK, and I appreciate that Global Knowledge is completely transparent about this info. Why? Because it's essential to make best sense of its contents.


Who's Got IT Certs Where?


Interestingly, despite its leadership in outright pay, North America does not lead in terms of certified professionals as a fraction of the total respondent pool. The highest percentage on those terms (96 percent) is found in the Asia Pacific region, with Latin America coming in second at 93 percent.


2019 IT Skills & Salary Report

Source: Page 14 of 2019 IT Skills & Salary Report


Next is EMEA at 87 percent, with North America dead last at 81 percent. And remember, the global average is 85 percent, so only North America actually falls beneath this threshold.


Certs by Category, Sliced and Diced


Cloud computing leads the certification pack, with AWS and Google Cloud credentials conferring high pay across all regions. Business architecture certs (such as TOGAF) also pay high salaries. In fact, those are number one in EMEA and Asia-Pacific, and second everywhere around the globe.


The most popularc certification category remains Cybersecurity (which also includes Governance, Compliance, and Policy in its coverage base). Globally, 27 percent of respondents have at least one certification of this kind, and nearly 18 percent hold some kind of ITIL certification. In North America, cybersecurity also reigns supreme, followed by certs from what I like to call the "800 pound gorillas," namely CompTIA, Microsoft and Cisco.


Top-paying certs vary by region, but cloud computing is strong everywhere. In North America (pg 17 of the report) Google and AWS occupied 4 of the Top Ten slots. Others include CISM (No. 2), Certified ScrumMaster (No. 3), PMP (No. 7), CRISC (No. 8), Citrix CCE-V (No. 9), and CISSP (No. 10).


Latin America's Top Ten reads: TOGAF 9.1 (No. 1), 6 Sigma Green Belt (No. 2), PMP (No. 3), CCIE R&S (No. 4), CISSP (No. 5), AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate [AWSCSAA] (No. 6), WMware VCA-DCV (No. 7), COBIT 5 Foundation (No. 8), CRISC (No. 9) and Google CGP Cloud Architect (No. 10).


In EMEA, the Top Ten is GCP Cloud Architect (No. 1), TOGAF 9.1 (No. 2), GCP Data Engineer (No. 3), CISSP (No. 4), PRINCE2 Practitioner (No. 5), AWSCSAA (No. 6), AWS Certified Developer – Associate [AWSCDA] (No. 7), CRISC (No. 8), Certified ScrumMaster (No. 9) and CISM (No. 10).


And finally, for Asia Pacific it's TOGAF 9.1 (No. 1), GCP Data Engineer (No. 2), CGEIT (No. 3), CRISC (No. 4), CISSP (No. 5), GCP Cloud Architect (No. 6), CISM (No. 7), PMP (No. 8), MSCE: Server Infrastructure (No. 9, now retired) and MCSA: Windows Server 2008 (No. 10, also retired).


Very interesting! Pages 20 and 21 recite the most popular certs, but they're easily gleaned from the afore-cited Top Ten lists. What's interesting is the finding that cross-certifying with AWS, no matter what one's other specialty might be, is worth more than $10,000 per year in additional pay.


The report continues with a bunch of links to certification programs and upcoming changes, various cert prep guides and exam tips, and so forth. The conclusions (already recited, so I won't repeat them) appear on page 24. Pages 25-27 present a bunch of interesting charts about survey respondent demographics (which again confirm my "top-heavy" assertion about the makeup of that pool).


Overall, the report is informative, interesting and definitely worth a read-through. Grab a copy and see for yourself.


Would you like more insight into the history of hacking? Check out Calvin's other articles about historical hackery:
About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.