I’m Skeptical About Salary Surveys and Certifications

Filed under CAPM, CompTIA Project+, PMP | Posted by PMStudent

This link crossed my Twitterstream the other day:

Top 15 Highest Paying Certifications in the Technology?Industry

Looking for the source document I found it here.? Many of my comments come from page 9 in the PDF.

I want to throw a few comments out and see what you think.? Leave a reply below.

  • This data is 2 years old based on the protocol info given on page 12.? Why is it making rounds on blogs now? As bloggers we make mistakes (I make my share) but come on, let’s do a little research before regurgitating it!
  • Average salaries for PMP and CAPM are nearly equal?? Wha? Is it just me, or does this completely run counter to the demographics and requirements of these two certifications?
  • The posts out there are touting the table on page 9 of the PDF without much context, furthering the impression that “If I get xxx certification I’ll have a good chance at landing the average salary on this table!” – Sorry but this is wrong! Even if the data is accurate, note that professionals who have been managing projects for decades go back and get a certification.? This can artificially shift the average up.? In other words, this can only demonstrate correlation, not a causal link.? If you read the PDF it shows this clearly on page 10 with the statistic that:

“In our survey, more than half of respondents stated that certification has had no impact at all on their salary.”

Remember too that this is self-report data.? I’d be much happier with company-provided anonymous salary data along with job role/class, tenure with the company, years of experience, formal education, etc.? THEN you could control for other variables (tenure, experience, education, gender [unfortunately we haven’t eliminated gender bias across the board yet, so this has to be controlled for], etc.) and try to isolate a more distinct relationship between certification and salary.

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I like certifications in general.? That’s not the point of my rant here.

I just don’t want anyone to get the impression that a certification of any kind is going to double their salary.

If you go for a certification, do it for the right reasons.? You can see how and why I passed the PMP exam if you like.