Career Watch: IT security loses some of its cachet

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Jinx Walton

Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader: Jinx Walton

The director of computing services at the University of Pittsburgh answers questions about a colleague's negativity, the job market and leveraging an MBA.

I'm often thrown into projects with a co-worker who is down on everything that our boss and our company does. I've tried to help her channel her anger into positive things that could result in improvements, but she seems to just want to complain. It's wearying to work with her. What can I do?

Your attempts to adjust your co-worker's attitude are admirable but obviously futile. It is unfortunate, but some individuals are happiest when they are complaining. Since you now know that she is not going to change, your time is best spent focusing on your tasks and limiting your interactions with her to those necessary to successfully complete projects. To keep her attitude from negatively impacting you, it is important that you distance yourself from her beyond those interactions required for the assigned projects.

I've been out of work for 19 months after eight years as a sysadmin. I'm ready to throw in the towel and find another line of work, except that I love working with technology so much. Any words of encouragement? I really need some.

Your experience and love of technology should be key factors in your decision-making process. My recommendation would be that you not limit your search to IT positions that specifically match your background. Eight years as a systems administrator brings with it a wealth of knowledge that is applicable to a variety of technology-based positions. You might want to widen your search and look at all available IT positions and then modify your résumé to show how your experience and expertise apply. By taking the time to modify your résumé for each position, you are focusing attention on your strengths and assisting the employer by demonstrating how your experience fits and brings value to the position.

When the economy tanked, I left my job as director of a project management office and went back to school for an MBA. I recently finished the program. Any advice on how best to use my experience and new degree for a role with more leadership potential?

An MBA is an invaluable credential to support your aspirations for increasingly responsible leadership positions. As a former director of a project management office, you already have credentials in an important leadership role. Leading an organization's project management activities provides high-level insight into the priorities and direction of the organization. I would capitalize on this experience, along with your academic credentials, during your job search.

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Salary Trends

IT Security Loses Some Cachet

After weathering the economic turmoil of the past three years, IT certification pay premiums took a tumble in the third quarter, according to Foote Partners LLC's quarterly analysis of IT skills and certifications pay. David Foote, the firm's CEO and chief research officer, expressed surprise at the drop in compensation for security certifications in particular, noting that "security certifications pay has been on a steady upward climb since October 2006."

Foote Partners noted that the decrease in additional pay awarded to IT workers for security certifications does not mean that demand for such workers has declined, but rather that the supply-and-demand ratio has shifted. It could be that there is now a glut of certifications in the market, making it easier for employers to fill positions without increasing pay levels.

Overall, Certs Pay Was Down...

These IT certification categories posted decreases in overall pay premiums in the third quarter of 2010. A 1.3 per cent average decline was found among a total of 221 certifications evaluated.

* Web development: -2.7 per cent

* Systems administration/engineering: -2.2 per cent

* Networking and communications: -1.9 per cent

* Application development: -1.5 per cent

* IT security: -0.6 per cent

...But Skills Pay Was Up

These noncertified IT skills categories posted increases in overall pay premiums in the third quarter of 2010. A 0.7 per cent average increase was reported among a total of 236 non-certified IT skills evaluated.

* Operating systems: 2.9 per cent

* Web/e-commerce: 1.7 per cent

* Database: 1.5 per cent

* Management/methodology/process: 1.0 per cent

* Application development: 0.5 per cent

* Systems/networking: 0.4 per cent

* SAP and enterprise applications: 0.1 per cent

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