Hot qualifications in a cool job market

Enterprise architect, project management and process management qualifications are in demand while most pure technology qualifications are of diminishing value.

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What are the hottest tech certifications in today's cool job market?

According to Foote Partners ' autumn survey of more than 22,000 IT professionals, covering some 170 certifications, the most valuable certificates today settle mainly into two camps: architecture and security. Microsoft and Cisco certifications also got good grades.

In terms of pay growth, here are the top five certifications, according to Foote Partners:

  • IT Certified Architect (ITCA/OpenGroup)
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM)
  • Security Architecture Professional (ISSAP/CISSP)
  • Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator: Messaging (MCSA)
  • Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP)

Good architecture equals real tech savings

As the economic crisis has deepened, good enterprise architects have become treasured assets. In fact, over the last six months, seven of the eight fastest-growing certificates are for enterprise architecture, which barely registered a blip a year ago, says David Foote, president of Foote Partners.

"One of the things you invest in during tough times is architects," he says, "because if you want to save money, you have to architect carefully."

Certification plays well in areas that are grand in scope (and thus ill-defined), business-critical, and full of complexity.

Experience varies from enterprise architect to enterprise architect. Job histories on résumés can be exaggerated or even contain outright lies. Enterprise architecture certifications, on the other hand, "bring industrial strength" to the résumé and can be more easily confirmed, says Carole Schlocker, who runs iSpace, a technical staffing firm.

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