IT certification gives federal job seekers an edge

Federal IT professionals plugging away at getting an IT certification in hopes of better pay could indeed see more money in the bank. A recent survey of public sector IT employees shows that more than half of those who completed a certification saw a salary increase or a bonus.

Network World and SolarWinds, which develops IT management software, surveyed 184 government IT professionals, most of which were network architects/admins/engineers. Nearly 40 percent said they worked for a mid-size federal agency.

The majority of respondents said getting a certification had paid off: 60.9 percent got a new job, 58 percent saw an increase in salary or a bonus and 27 percent reported getting promotion. For those who got a raise, one-third saw more than a 10 percent increase in their pay. The second most common salary increase was 4 percent to 6 percent,

Asked what their greatest motivation for pursuing certification, respondents listed the following reasons:

  • A promotion or other job (54 percent)
  • To learn about the technology (14.1 percent)
  • A salary raise (13.5 percent)
  • Needed it because it was required for their job (11.7 percent)

In the ever more competitive job market, people are looking for ways to stand out among the many other job seekers, and a certification could help job seekers position themselves better.

“In the market we have today, when you post a job opening you probably get more resumes than ever before,” said Josh Stephens, vice president of technology at SolarWinds. “Certifications are a good way to differentiate yourself from other candidates.”

The cost to take the exam for a certification ranges from $120 to $200 for those who decide to self-study or use online learning materials, Stephens said. Another, costlier option would be training classes that conclude with a certification, or boot camp that cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 a week, he said.

“Not only is it money well spent, but it’s time well spent,” Stephens said.  “One of the concerns when you interview a public sector employee is not only do they know the technology, but do they know how the public sector utilizes the technology? If they’re certified, you know they have a well-rounded education on that certain technology.”


About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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Reader comments

Fri, May 4, 2012 TX

I agree with the second comment on here. A lot of certifications people receive across the IT Sector are for the most part good to have but related work experience in the field I believe is the best to have in regards to IT. A basic understanding of how IT works as far as networks and security dont mean jack when you dont know how to react to an incident when time is of the essence. After getting the OJT in the IT field is when you receive real world training that will take you farther in this IT business....

Fri, Nov 18, 2011

I would like to know the certifications exams that cost $100 - $200 that the author mentions. Most certifiaction exams that I know of cost around $400 - $500, and the training cost (classroom/bootcamp)is around 2500.00.

Fri, Nov 18, 2011

Unfortunately IT competence over the years has never been easy to determine, that is short of demonstrated work experience. In the government where most upper- and mid-level management is either clueless or more concerned with social engineering, these certifications provide an easy out. Based upon personal observation, the certificate business, and I stress business, is another money-making scheme where tests are taught and skill is for naught.

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 TX

How about the Veterans with IT Certifications that can't even get an interview? Motivated people like me are fighting to get in the door but get it slammed in their faces. I see the USG hiring non-certified personnel and forcing them to get certified before their probation ends.

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