Robert Half's Take on Valuable IT Certifications
Robert Half is a major staffing and consulting firm that's been in business since 1948. It keeps tabs on the employment market across all fields, but is particularly well known for staffing and consulting services in the areas of financial audit and operations, technology, governance and risk management. (Its IT and technology operations are under the Robert Half Technology umbrella.)
Thus, when the company publishes annual salary and related surveys, these are usually mined for all kinds of interesting insights and information. Their reputation drew me to dig in and take a look after I saw they had published a blog post on Sept. 9 titled "The 29 Most Valuable IT Certifications."
It's not only worth a look, it's also backed up with a hefty, multi-part 2022 Salary Guide that's of equal interest to employers and employees alike. (Registration is required to obtain this key download.)
First Things First: An Abridged Version of the Cert List
Because some of the items in the list are categories (and thus, cover multiple items) the 29 most valuable IT certifications comes from a 16-item list, to wit (reproduced verbatim from the afore-linked blog post of the same name):
AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner — Amazon Web Services (AWS)
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) — AXELOS
Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) — EC-Council
Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) — Cisco
Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) — Cisco
A+, Cloud+, and Security+ — CompTIA
Certified Data Professional (CDP) — ICCP
Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE) — ISACA
Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) — ISACA
Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) — (ISC)2
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) — (ISC)2
Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert — Microsoft
Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate/Expert (MCSA/MCSE) — Microsoft
Oracle Database and MySQL administration certifications
Project Management Professional (PMP) — Project Management Institute (PMI)
Salesforce Certified Development Lifecycle and Deployment Designer — Salesforce
I don't see any surprises in here, but I do see confirmation of ongoing trends and workplace demands for "hot IT positions." Notice the emphasis on cloud technology: Four items include or point to cloud platforms and technologies, and Salesforce, as a SaaS application, runs in the cloud.
Notice also the emphasis on information security: Six items are directly security-related, and many categories — most notably CCIE and CCNP, but also MSCA and MSCE — include security-focused credentials amidst their coverage. I'm amazed that MSCA and MSCE still register so high on the ranking and radar, given that these credentials are obsolete as of January 1, 2021, and have been difficult/impossible to earn for close to three years now.
It's also significant that AWS, Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle and Salesforce all have sufficient heft to register in a "most valuable" survey of this kind, and shows their power in markets and workplaces around the globe. The CCIE has long been an evergreen member of the elite certification squad.
I've also heard from friend who work with Salesforce tools and platforms that their certs can easily propel credential holders past the $200.000 annual salary mark. (Anecdotal evidence only: I don't have any hard numbers to share on this observation, though I do believe it myself because its source is an old and trusted friend.)
Second Things Second: Top IT Positions and Demand by Category
I grabbed the table of Technology Top Positions from Robert Half's Demand for Skilled Talent 2021 page, with the Technology category expanded. While the numbers (which range from 0.3 percent to 4.7 percent) may seem small, but they represent their unemployment rates for the second quarter of 2021.
The overall unemployment rate for Sept. 2021, by way of comparison, was 5.2 percent. Only network and computer admins and computer programmers come close to matching that general rate, and they're coming at it from the low side. Most of the categories mentioned (up to and including information security analysts) are less than half that number.
This shows high demand for those kinds of IT professionals and, consequently, extremely low unemployment in those categories. To me, it's interesting that unfashionable categories — most notably computer and information systems managers, systems analysts and Web developers — still rank up there with more fashionable database admins and architects and infosec analysts.
I'm also bemused that software developers can have a 1.2 percent unemployment rate while computer programmers can have a 4.7 percent rate. Aren't they more or less synonymous? Apparently not. It's also no surprise to see business intelligence analysists and network/cloud architects showing up in the "additional positions in demand" that follows the main category list.
Business intelligence is becoming (or has become) an old-fashioned euphemism for big data analyst/professional. And nobody doubts the potency of architect as part of a job title, even outside the realm of networking and the cloud.
All in all, there's lots of interesting information in the Robert Half materials. If you're thinking about career planning or job change and opportunity, you could find that dipping into them is quite worthwhile. Cheers!