If you’re considering training and certification to boost your job skills and compensation, the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report from learning provider Global Knowledge offers keen insights from people who have traveled that route. A glance at the excerpts below should reinforce the value of boosting your job skills—and not just in terms of money. By nearly every measure, those who certified consider themselves better off, and their employers agree.

A few quick facts about the wide-ranging survey itself: Global Knowledge analyzed more than 14,300 questionnaire responses from all over the world, of whom 87 percent were IT staff or decision-makers. Despite geographical variations in compensation, the responses were remarkably consistent. So whatever your location, you can rely on these insights to help you plan smart career choices.

Skills Gaps: Rampant and Troubling

More than two-thirds of IT decision-makers reported a gap between their team’s skill levels and the knowledge required to meet their goals. Perhaps even more concerning, these gaps generate higher levels of employee stress, reflecting in a lower likelihood of meeting quality objectives, and delays in development and deployment. Not surprisingly, cybersecurity needs are the most urgent.

Professional Development Is a Popular Career Strategy

The skills gap notwithstanding, 84 percent of respondents indicated that they did take some form of training in 2016 versus 87 percent in 2015 and 78 percent in 2014. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they train not only to deepen existing skills but to gain exposure to new topics, tools, and technologies.

iStock-516931826.jpgWhy Does Certification Matter So Much?

A very convincing testimonial to the value of certification comes from the bosses: 94 percent of IT decision-makers reported that their certified team members added value above and beyond the cost of certification. For example, they revealed that certified staffers can troubleshoot issues and complete projects faster; are higher in productivity; and, of course, fill in the skills gaps. Nearly 60 percent of these executives considered themselves likely to authorize staff to take skills-based and certification-focused technical training in the coming year.

As for IT staffers themselves, the recently certified believe they are performing work faster (44 percent). They also now possess sought-after expertise within their organizations (39 percent); they are capable of implementing system efficiencies (33 percent); and certification also enables them to deploy products and services more efficiently (23 percent).

Follow the Money

That certification pays off financially is beyond debate. In the United States and Canada, the certified staff vaulted to a level nearly 12 percent above the uncertified. (Not unexpectedly, U.S. workers earned substantially larger paychecks across the board.) But respondents who received raises driven by skills development, including achieving certification, reported increases of at least 9 to 16 percent, wherever they worked. Among the various disciplines, security overall garners the highest salaries (a mean of $112,764 in the United States and Canada), doubtless propelled by the blazing cyber wars.

It's No Secret: Certification Is the Road to Revenue

Globally, 86 percent of IT employees surveyed possess at least one valid certification. Across the world, respondents hold an average of three certifications each. Certifications are often a requirement for promotion or advancement, making the challenges that accompany the effort well worth it. So it comes as no surprise that two-thirds of respondents are either actively training or planning to train within the year.

Three Cisco certifications ranked among the study’s top 20 salaries: CCNA Routing and Switching, CCNA Security, and CCNP Routing and Switching, which, in the United States and Canada, all exceed, on average, $80,000 annually.

In compiling the list of the top 20, Global Knowledge considered only those certifications that had at least 150 responses from the United States and Canada. Global Knowledge states that "Cisco's wide array of certifications appeals to all levels of responsibility making for a low overall average salary." It adds, however, that much higher salaries exist for Cisco certifications that didn't have the requisite 150 respondents to make the top 20 list: for example, CCIE Routing and Switching, CCNP Security, and CCNP Collaboration, all of which draw down an average salary in the United States exceeding $106,000.

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be in IT

If you chose IT as a career, you have reason to feel proud of your insight. The majority of IT respondents feel satisfied in their roles—and no wonder, what with their higher salaries, improving business conditions, and future opportunities.

Take some time to visit the 2017 IT Skills and Salary Report from Global Knowledge to learn more. And if these positive outcomes inspire you to take your skills to the next level, check out our enriched suite of resources for training and certification here on the Cisco Learning Network. We’re here to help you acquire the skills you need to get aboard the career express.


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Primary photoLinda Boroff is a technical and marketing writer with more than a decade of experience in areas including network security, analytics, virtual data center, and SDN.