Networking salaries rise, resist industry trend

According to new research, the average pay for certified networking professionals increased slightly last year, while pay for certified IT workers declined overall. Workers with CCIE, VoIP and security certs fared especially well.

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While IT salaries and bonuses have been shrinking as of late and a number of jobs are moving overseas, certified networking professionals finally have some good news -- their total compensation rose slightly on average last year, bucking an overall downward trend in the IT industry, according to new research.

That research was conducted by New Canaan, Conn.-based research firm Foote Partners LLC. It found that the average annual bonus of an IT worker with a networking-related certification increased by .5% of the individual's base salary.

Half a percent of one's base pay is hardly a large jump, but it was better than the changes others in the market saw. Foote Partners found that, for IT certifications overall, total compensation dropped by 5.6%.

David Foote, president and chief research officer with Foote Partners, said that, by last year, many companies had already cut staff and outsourced as many positions as they could. The remaining networking staff is valuable, and companies realize they need these employees, he said.

Those that fared best last year were those closest to the link between business processes and IT infrastructure, Foote said. Certified Project Management Professionals -- a credential issued by the Project Management Institute -- increased in value by 16%. Those with the Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) certification saw an average increase of 11%.

Pay for those with security certifications was also up, though not as much as in previous years. As a group, networking pros with security certifications saw increases of between 1% and 9% of their base pay.

"Network administrators have lost jobs, but the ones left behind have discovered that security is absolutely the right thing to do," Foote said.

One area that has also seen strong growth is VoIP -- employers value workers familiar with the high-bandwidth networks that convergence often requires. Those with VoIP skills saw a jump of 38% during the last two years.

The addition of voice, video and other media to a network often requires network upgrades. As a result, those with Gigabit Ethernet skills have also seen those skills increase in value by 13%.

For the next year, Foote said, he expects to see continued interest in those with VoIP and Gigabit Ethernet skills, security certifications and higher-level networking certifications. As networks become increasingly linked to business processes, people who understand the intersection of those two worlds are likely to benefit the most, he said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

What else will 2004 bring? Check out Ed Tittel's 2004 industry predictions.

Want to increase your pay? Take a look at our certification guide.

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