CLICK HERE for a list of all skills & certs reported in the ITSCPI
An "Inside" Approach to Benchmarking Pay
for IT Skills and Certifications
2019 IT Skills & Certifications Pay Index (ITSCPITM)
How is the data presented?*
Skills and certifications pay in the ITSCPI is displayed as a percent of base pay, a normative view that is also the most common form in which they are paid. We display three data points for each skill or certification: 10th percentile; 50th percentile (median); 90th percentile.
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What is IT skills and certification pay and why is it so popular?
It’s common practice today for employers to isolate, recognize and reward experience in their IT workforce for a variety of technical and business skills. Pay for such skills -- both certified and noncertified -- is usually provided in the form of a cash premium employers are willing to pay workers who possess high-value IT-related skills used on the job, with or without certifications for those skills. Such pay may be applied in the form of a cash bonus or it may be embedded in base salary to adjust for the presence of a dominant vendor or technology; for example, a Cisco Network Engineer, Python Software Engineer, RedHat Linux Systems Administrator, or SAP ABAP Developer specializing in supply chain management for Retail industry software modules.
Incorporating skills premiums in total cash compensation is the most popular option today. Why? Because it is the most effective solution to the long-standing problem of job titles that don't match what people actually do on-the-job. It’s not uncommon to find specialists with React, Angular, Python, Ruby, SAP/ABAP and dozens of other popular programming language skills all lumped together in a somewhat generic "Programmer", "Developer", or “Software Engineer” job code. Or for many years the Linux, Unix, and NT administrators lumped together under a single "Systems Administrator". But some of these skills are worth much more than others in the labor marketplace and would cost an employer more to replace such skills if needed. Benchmarking salaries of these various IT specialists to a single job title in a salary survey – if you can even find the job title -- typically results in salary mismatches.
Wouldn’t it just be easier to change the person’s job title to reflect the skill specializations? For example, software developers who work exclusively with Ruby become "Ruby Developers" and engineers in the Cisco environment world be "Cisco Network Administrators". There is much resistance in doing this with employers who are wary of the complexities of job title proliferation and inability to find exact titles in available salary surveys. Instead, they have learned to simply differentiate workers within common job titles by offering skills premium pay in order to match their pay to the job titles they should have. It's a lot less unwieldy than going through a laborious job evaluation process and doubling the number of job titles needing to graded, leveled, and market priced.
This is where our 2019 IT Skills and Certifications Pay IndexTM comes in handy: it tells you exactly what the bonus or base pay adjustment should be for 1,017 certified and noncertified IT skills based on current compensation information collected at 3,289 carefully selected employers in U.S. and Canada.
Are there other uses for skills pay? Absolutely: skills pay can be an inducement in recruiting a prospective employee via internal transfer or securing external candidates on the open market as a basis for a sign-on bonus. Skills pay can also be used as a de facto retention bonus. One of the best uses for skills pay is as an incentive to encourage workers to develop their abilities in areas of greatest value to short- and long-term business strategies. Think: blockchain, advanced data analytics, cybersecurity, cloud.
Is a certain level of performance necessary to receive a skill or certification premium? Our research indicates that while some employers may attach a performance basis for skills payout, others do not. The trend is towards companies devising measurable performance hurdles whenever possible.
How did Foote Partners invent IT skills pay benchmarking and how is the data collected?
Foote Partners’ primary research report for skills and professional certifications pay is the IT Skills and Certifications Pay IndexTM (ITSCPI), which tracks premium pay for 1,003 IT certifications and noncertified skills and is continuously updated and published every three months. Updated data in this edition was collected through January 1, 2019, including 77,300 validated IT professionals receiving premium pay for their skills or certifications.
Employers have been paying for IT skills and certifications for some time but they are notoriously reluctant to create formal programs to do so. That’s because they want to pay for skills selectively without feeling obligated to pay all holders of any one skill or certification equally, or even at all. This makes it much more labor intensive and expensive for survey researchers to capture such data. Though many have tried to track skills pay---WillisTowersWatson, Culpepper, and Mercer, to name a few---Foote Partners’ ITSCPI, launched in 1999, is the only survey of its kind still in existence and has been the industry’s most comprehensive and most accurate index of pay for certified and noncertified skills premiums.
The ITSCPI is a different kind of compensation survey. Our unique data collection methodology lends itself very well to capturing both informal and formal pay practices and to do it more economically. Our survey reveals that nearly one-third of the 294,000 private and public-sector IT workers in our North American survey receive some form of skills pay, and of that number we are able to both document and validate skills pay data for more than 75 percent of these incumbents. From our HR department and non-HR research partner sources we receive all formal and informal IT compensation data in the form of electronic databases, spreadsheets, and hard copy. We update our data collection weekly and publish the results every ninety days.
With this critical data in hand, Foote Partners spends significant time on the delicate and critical task of validating the data including direct interviewing and aggressive interactive surveying. We do not collect self-reported skills pay data from workers themselves but instead from their HR and compensation staffs and in some cases from managers and executives who possess the identical data.
We collect and compile the data continuously and make those results available to our retainer and consulting customers only: everybody else may obtain more than 60 individual quarterly updated ‘off-the-shelf’ compensation surveys published and regularly updated by Foote Partners that contains excerpts from the ITSCPI report.
The ITSCPI reports pay in the following classifications, for full-time IT workers only (these premiums do not apply to contractors or consultants):
Non-certified IT skills categories surveyed:
--Messaging and Communications
--Applications Development Tools & Languages
--SAP & Enterprise Business Applications
--Management, Methodology, and Process
Certified IT Skills categories surveyed:
--General/Beginner and Training
--Networking and Communications
--Applications Development & Languages
--Architecture/Project Management/Process skills
Research participant metrics
IT compensation data for our 2019 research findings were collected from 3,289 public and private sector organizations representing more than 40 private sector industries plus government and educational institutions. Data from 279,600 IT professionals were included in these findings.
The size of the participating organizations, measured most appropriately for the type of business, by revenues, assets, total premiums and operating budgets, are as follows
-- 13% of participating organizations have $5 billion+ in sales/$15+ billion in total assets
-- 25% of participating organizations have $1 billion or more in annual revenues or $5 billion or more in total assets
-- 44% of participating organizations have $500+ million in sales/$3+ billion in total assets/$500+ million in premiums/$500+ million operating budget (government, educational, not-for-profit)
-- 56% of participating organizations fall in the SMB (small-to-medium sized business) segment, generally defined as organization under $500 million in sales
-- [Public sector] 5% have operating budgets of $500 million or more, 4% with operating budgets $100 million to less than $500million (nonprofit/government/educational sectors)
Survey Frequency and Availability
Surveying during these months... Produces research published no later than...
1st Qtr (January, February, March)
2nd Qtr (April, May, June)
3rd Qtr (July, August, September)
4th Qtr (October, November, December)
January 10 (following year)
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