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CISSP among highest paying certifications

See what other certified security skills have grown, or diminished, in value in this new report from salary researchers at Foote Partners LLC.

Credentialed security specialists continue to enjoy higher wages than some of their IT brethren, according to the latest "Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index" released this week by IT research consultancy Foote Partners LLC, of New Canaan, Conn. The bonuses reflect a trend among employers to reward workers with specialized skills and to keep them from jumping ship.

The overall median wage for 62 certified skills grew 4% overall in 2004, compared to a 5.6% decline the year prior. In fact, much of the wage advancements were made the final quarter of 2004. Specific bonus figures that account for the promising percentage were not immediately available, but the data indicates companies again are willing to compensate workers moving beyond basic skill sets.

"There has been a renaissance in IT roles and a redefinition of IT jobs so pervasive that traditional job titles are becoming increasingly meaningless," David Foote, president and chief research officer, said in a statement. In general, pay for networking (11.6%), systems administration (9.2%) and programming and applications development (7.7%) skills grew the most in value, while beginning

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certifications (-21.1%), project management (-18.8%) and Web skills (-8.5%) dropped most dramatically.

Security skills rose 1.1% between 2003 and 2004. However, while overall security skills pay remained steady, certain security certifications continued to yield the highest payoffs among IT skills sets, according to 46,000 U.S. and European IT workers included in the study.

The highest paying security certs include:

  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA);
  • Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP);
  • Cisco Certified Security Professional (CCSP);
  • SANS/GIAC Security Expert (GSE)
  • GIAC Certified Forensic Analyst (GCFA)
  • GIAC Certified Windows Security Administrator (GCWN)

Security certified skills losing value in the last six months include the GIAC Incident Handler, which stagnated, and GIAC Security Essentials Certification, where skills pay dropped 20% from Q2 to Q4 2004. Certs that have lost significant value in the last two years include the GIAC Firewall Analyst, according to the report.

So what's behind the reversal of fortune for IT professionals? Essentially a revived talent war, where companies will do more to hire or retain A-list employees. "More attention is being paid to the risks of losing workers who stuck it out through years of workforce reductions, and for good reason," Foote said. These workers, who often took on additional responsibilities during lean times, also have acquired business skills that make them more marketable. These "hybrid jobs" could eventually become the norm, where everyone is required to understand operational and process skills to work in IT.

Also fueling the bigger bonuses are technology-driven regulations, such as HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. This is especially good news for consultants with data and network security skills. The mixed success of offshore outsourcing also is an influence. Though the trend to send IT work outside the U.S. is expected to continue at a slower pace, nearly "60% of offshoring initiatives have been failing to measure up to expectations, especially in cost savings," he said.

What do you think will be the "hot" security certifications in 2005? Let everyone know by clicking the Sound Off link, then watch to see what your peers have to say.

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