Pandemic-driven high paying tech skills and certifications that still have room to grow

The current volatile tech labor marketplace is harboring surprises in which IT skills employers are willing to pay extra cash for.


So far in 2021, tech has continued to ‘lead us to the light’ with many technologies like digital development, automation, AI, cloud computing and others on accelerated development schedules compared to last year. But it’s hard to top what happened to e-commerce during the pandemic: a recent McKinsey Global Institute report found that the share of e-commerce in total retail sales across eight countries studied increased between 200 to 500% in 2020 compared to the annual average over the previous five years.

This has of course sent ripples through the tech labor market. My last column identified seventeen non-certified IT skills that our Q1 2021 research indicated will continue to grow in market value despite already earning lucky tech workers well above-average cash pay premiums (typically paid in outside of base salary). Our firm has been measuring and tracking skills pay since 2000 in the IT Skills and Certifications Pay IndexTM (ITSCPI), currently reporting pay for 546 certified and 621 non-certified tech skills and updated every three months with data collected from our research partnerships with 3,805 U.S. and Canadian private and public sector employers.  

Not unexpectantly, nine of the seventeen non-certified skills continued to increase in value in the second quarter of 2021: Apache Pig; Blockchain; Data Architecture; Ethereum; Identity and access management; DevSecOps; E-Discovery; Risk analytics/assessment; and Smart Contracts.  Added to this list between April and July are the following skills, all of which are earning cash premiums equivalent to between 16 and 18% of base salary and grew in value between 5.9% and 21.4% in the first half of the year:

-        Amazon Dynamo DB

-        Apache Cassandra

-        Apache Hive

-        Apache Spark

-        Artificial Intelligence

-        Big Data Analytics

-        Cloud Foundry PaaS

-        Data Engineering

-        Data Integration

-        Data Strategy

-        Deep Learning

-        Site Reliability Engineering

-        Metadata design and  development

-        Microservices

-        Oracle Exadata

-        Splunk

IT certifications bucking a downward trend

Pay premiums for non-certified IT skills have been more or less steadily growing as a group for eleven years. Not so with certified tech skills: the 546 IT certifications tracked in our research have declined in market value on average every calendar quarter since 3rd quarter 2018 resulting in a more than 13% average loss in cash market value in this period. But some individual certifications are outperforming all others, counter-trending this downward drift.

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