Despite concerns about the economy, organizations are still investing in technology and in their employees, according to a recent IT skills and salary survey. IT professionals can control their worth and value to the organization.

More than two-thirds of IT professionals said skills and certification-oriented training positively impacted base salaries, according to a recent skills and salary survey conducted by Global Knowledge along with Windows IT Pro.

Seven out of ten said the new skills and certificates also benefited the employer, the respondents said. Of the 16,300 respondents who completed the online survey in the fall of 2013, 74 percent were based in Canada and the United States, hence the report’s focus on North America. Professionals reported an average salary of $88,873 for security services in the report.

Certifications are still seen as valuable within the IT community. Employees who attended training were twice as likely as the overall average to see a raise of 11 percent or higher and raises were more pronounced for those who had completed certifications within the prior 12 months, the survey found. Security professionals could also improve their salaries by expanding their skills to include both business and technical areas.

“When it comes to new skills, adding to one’s skill set not only improves on-the-job effectiveness but also opens the door for advancement and an above-average increase in compensation,” the report found.

Certifications positively impact potential earnings, with the survey declaring, “2014 is the year of the security specialist.” Nearly 23 percent of certifications are security-focused, and risk management and security programs ranked first, second, and third on the surveys list of highest-paid certifications. The average salary for professionals with Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC) was $118,253, followed by Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) for $114,844. The Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) averaged $112,040.

The International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium’s  (ISC2) Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) did not quite make the list of top-paying certifications, but still boasted an impressive average salary of $114,287.

As a baseline, salaries for IT professionals average $87,873 per year. Nearly half of the respondents said they received a bonus, and more than 70 percent reported receiving a raise in 2013.

About 70 percent of IT managers in the survey anticipated authorizing staff to attend skills and certification-oriented training in 2014. About 42 percent of the managers also expected to invest in security training, according to the survey. About a third of the professionals who focused on applications, middleware, and asset management software had received security training over the past 12 months, along with a slightly smaller group of professionals working with telecommunications.

Organizations experiencing business growth expect to invest more heavily in security, virtualization, data centers, server technologies, mobility-oriented activities, business intelligence, and leadership and professional skills, the survey found. Larger organizations, with 1,000 or more employees, anticipate investing in security, business intelligence, and predictive analytics. In contrast, smaller organizations will focus on adding skills that would directly boost sales, the survey found.

IT staff have to do “more with less,” the report noted.

Fahmida Y. Rashid is an accomplished security journalist and technologist. She is a regular contributor for several publications including where she is a networking and security analyst.  She also was a senior writer at eWeek where she covered security, core Internet infrastructure and open source. As well, she was a senior technical editor at CRN Test Center reviewing open source, storage, and networking products. 

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