Despite recession, pay climbs for top IT security certifications

The value of security certifications continued to increase in Q1 2009, proving that certs could be a worthwhile investment for those looking to boost their salaries.

For information security professionals, it's good to be certified, even in a recession.

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That's the key takeaway from the Q1 2009 report on IT skills and certifications salaries from Vero Beach, Fla.-based research firm Foote Partners LLC.

Perhaps predictably, the average pay for 371 certified and uncertified IT skills dropped 0.5% during the first quarter of 2009. But there was one broad category of certifications where pay increased: IT security.

Security certifications pay for Q1 of 2009 was up 1.6% year-over-year and 0.2% from last quarter.

"With more constricted budgets, companies [are] prioritizing where they want to spend," said David Foote, the company's co-founder, CEO and chief research officer. 

Skills and certification pay:

Security skills pay increases despite economic downturn: Despite the dour economy, new skills pay data suggests security managers are benefiting as CIOs look to retrench to survive the tough times ahead.

Certification still pays for CISSPs, CISMs
: New survey results from Foote Partners, finds security pros who have earned their CISSP, CISM or GIAC Security Expert certification are among those whose salaries continue to rise.

The major winners in this category were the GIAC Certified Incident Handler, up 12.5% over the last quarter and a remarkable 28.6% year-over-year. EC-Council's Certified Hacking Forensics Investigator was up 12.5% for Q1, and the GIAC Certified Incident Manager was up 11.1% over the last quarter.

Other security certifications that gained in value during the first three months of 2009 were the Check Point Certified Master Architect, the GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst and the GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst, all of which were up 10%, as well as the Cisco Certified Security Professional, up 9.1%, all of them more granulated security certifications.

"[Since 2007] we've seen a flattening out in pay for management certifications," Foote said. "but we've seen an increase in interest and demand for a lot of in-the-trench certifications." 

Notable management certifications include (ISC)2's Systems Security Certified Practitioner, which was up 12.5% in Q1, but down 10% year-over-year. The CISM certification, however, while neither gaining nor losing for the last quarter, was up 7.1% year-over-year.

The ISSMP/CISSP, which focuses on project and risk management, was one of the few security certifications that declined over the last quarter, down 7.1%.

The full Foote Partners Q1 2009 report can be downloaded on the company's website.

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