Premium pay for those hard-earned IT certifications continues to decline, despite an overall surge in high-tech employment. The latest quarterly survey by Foote Partners found that pay premiums (not overall pay) declined by 1.2 percent in the last three months of 2011. Although that doesn't sound like much, the loss is part of a long-term trend, as it was the sixth straight quarter in which premium pay declined. In fact, premiums have lost value in 20 of the last 21 quarters, according to Foote Partners, which surveys 524 IT skills and certifications.
Of those, only one category of certifications -- architecture/project management/process certifications -- grew in overall market value; it rose by nearly 2 percent. And other data from Foote shows that businesses no longer value what are increasingly considered standard skills, and instead are putting their money both into a new set of emerging specialties and into hybrid technology/business roles.
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The good news is clear in the overall tech employment picture: A year-end report by the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) put the IT unemployment rate for 2011 at 3.7 percent, down from 5.3 percent in 2010. By comparison, in December, the unemployment rate for the overall economy was 8.5 percent.
An estimated 83,000 IT jobs were created in 2011, according to the Current Population Survey data, based on monthly surveys of U.S. households. A different measure, that of job listings on Dice.com, the largest tech job board, showed an increase of 11 percent in January versus a year earlier. At the beginning of the month, Dice listed 75,404 jobs, compared to 68,206 a year ago.
The hidden job growth is in hybrid business/tech roles
That IT job growth may in fact be understated in such statistics, thanks to a key trend that points to where IT opportunities are emerging for career and pay growth: so-called hybrid jobs, says David Foote, CEO of Foote Partners. Because those hybrid jobs are scattered across different departments and lines of business, counting them is much more difficult than it was when nearly all IT jobs were found in the IT department.