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The Value of Security Certifications


security certificationAre Security Certifications Losing Their Value?

Compensation for IT professionals holding security certifications, which had been the only market segment not to take a hit during the recent recession, unexpectedly saw a decrease in the third quarter of 2010. Foote Partners, an independent IT benchmarking firm, reported that the average pay for individuals holding a security certification (which includes things like intrusion analysis, incident handling and other advanced security certifications) fell for the first time since 2006.

What the Data Shows

Foote Partners Analysts were somewhat shocked to see that the forty-nine security certifications they surveyed showed a market value decline of .06%.  For some time, this market segment had been bucking the trend of most certifications by not only retaining value but steadily increasing since October 2006.  With increased threat levels to governments and corporations around the globe, the field of IT Security has shown strong growth in the last decade.  So the question is: does this mean that this field is no longer as attractive as it once was?

Is This Trend Likely To Continue?

Although it’s impossible to predict what the future holds for the value of security certifications, Foote Partners co-founder and CEO, David Foote believes this is more of a transition for this market segment rather than the beginning of a downward spiral.  Some factors that Foote believes are causing the leveling off of pay for this category include:

  • The Continuing Stalled Economy: Salaries show growth when companies are hiring. With continued restrictions on adding staff, even in high-priority areas like security, it’s difficult for the market to support steadily increasing wages.
  • The Move to Managed Security Services: Companies are increasingly looking to managed service providers when it comes to their IT needs.  With many organizations facing the prospect of a building a security practice from scratch, some are wisely choosing to outsource this functionality to a company that specializes in providing these services, which again can dampen the need for hiring.
  • The Use of Small and Medium-Sized Security Providers: As companies look to outside help with their security needs, many are choosing to work with small or medium-size providers.  These smaller companies are less likely to have premium pay programs for certifications in place.

What Does This Mean if You Are Pursuing a Security Certification?

The area of IT Security remains one of the strongest in the market. According to Richard Foote, “There’s really no other area of IT today that enjoys the same powerful combination of business and technology drivers that has made security one of the surest long term career bets for an IT professional.”

Although the steady increase in pay for those holding IT security certifications may have leveled off, the growing need for professionals in this area is only likely to continue as the global economy rebounds. This is sure to keep salaries and demand for these those holding IT security certifications strong.

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