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Study: Offshoring erodes IT pay -- again

Four in a row -- a new study shows overall IT pay slipped in North America and Europe for the fourth straight quarter, but certain skills and certs are paying well.

Offshore outsourcing may be saving money for U.S. companies, but it's also taking money from some U.S. IT workers.

Hot non-certified skills

Gigabit Ethernet






Source: Foote Partners LLC

According to the latest study from Foote Partners LLC, which tracked 42,000 private and public sector IT workers in North America and Europe, the average median pay for noncertified IT workers slipped 2.1% at the end of Q1 2004, and at least some of that money seems to have been washed overseas.

"When jobs go offshore and people stateside still have the skills, they will take jobs for less money," said David Foote, president and chief research officer for the New Canaan, Conn.-based firm. This is the fourth consecutive quarter Foote Partners has seen offshoring eat into onshore IT pay.

Non-certified skills paying well above average

Microsoft SQL Server

Oracle database and applications

RAD/Extreme programming

Project-level security

Source: Foote Partners LLC

Among the noncertified skills that showed the most precipitous dips: networking, Internetworking, messaging and groupware skills. Operating systems, database and e-commerce skills also showed declines, but those dips were not as steep as Lotus, Windows NT and Siebel skills (all three were rated as "cooling") and language skills (rated "cold").

But the news isn't all gloom and doom for noncertified skills. Foote also found Gigabit Ethernet, Linux, SOAP, Websphere, VoIP and XML skills to be smokin' hot. Database skills, especially Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle flavors, are going strong and paying well above average. Rapid application development and extreme programming skills are paying well, too, although offshoring appears to be eating into those sectors.

"Linux is a growth field certified or not," Foote said. "Websphere continues to do well; I am surprised that Gigabit Ethernet is doing so well."

As far as certified skills go, security and project management certs are bringing the richest rewards, while beginner, Webmaster, database, Active Directory and programming language certs declined the most in value.

Best paying certifications




Cisco CCIE

Citrix CCEA


Microsoft DB and MCSD

Novell Master CNE

Oracle DBA

Source: Foote Partners LLC 

Pay for Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCE), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), Sun's Solaris Net admin and Java developer, Hewlett-Packard SE and MASE, and Linux certifications proved "hot." Meanwhile, beginner, Webmaster and Siebel Certified Consultant certifications turned "cold."

Foote also believes Linux, security, Web services, VoIP and wireless are the tech skills to watch over the next 12 months, although he predicts that overall, technology is still a stagnant job market -- for those who've stuck it out. "We've found that a number of IT people are no longer in the field," Foote said.

Roscoe Wasko, CIO of Plano, Texas-based Rent-A-Center Inc., thinks that security, database and Unix skills are definite pluses for anyone applying for a job in his IT department.

"With data warehouses growing and all the security issues happening out there, especially with the Web increasing, those are skills I look for," he said. "Networking is becoming more of an art, too, as wireless goes," he said. Rent-A-Center plans to start working with VoIP technology sometime next year.

Linux skills may come in handy at Rent-A-Center in the future, but not right now. Wasko said that he's discussed moving the company's point-of-service clients to Linux, but plans to hold off until the SCO controversy blows over. "We don't need to be part of any lawsuit," he said. Right now the company is running Unix from SCO and HP.

Foote said that the most outsource-proof jobs right now seem to be those involved with IT infrastructure. "Companies are taking their infrastructure seriously and are not outsourcing those people," he said. "They're also making sure salaries and packages are good enough to get good talent."


Another study shows that CIOs are most interested in people with Windows admin skills, Visual Basic development skills and CheckPoint firewall admin skills.

How do you hire and retain your best people? Our Survival Guide may help.

Does offshoring deserve the backlash it gets in the United States?

Guess how many jobs were actually lost to offshoring in Q1 of 2004 -- the answer may surprise you.

Could offshoring really be helping the U.S. job market?

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