CIOs seeking to hire or retain skilled IT workers should continue to budget generously for payroll. Pay premiums for non-certified tech skills rose by the largest amount in 14 years in the first quarter of 2022, according to the latest edition of the IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index, compiled by Foote Partners.\n\nThe quarterly index also covers pay premiums for IT certifications, which \u2014 in a bit of good news for cash-strapped CIOs \u2014 have resumed a long decline begun more than three years ago with their largest quarterly drop since late 2020.\n\nStill, the analyst firm stands by its mid-2020 pandemic prediction that \u201cemployers won\u2019t be feeling a true sense of normalcy or find comfort in predicting their future until the fourth quarter, despite recent relieve in various restrictions.\u201d\n\nThe average premium paid for non-certified skills rose by 1.6% in the quarter, lifting the pay premium for one skill from around 9.35% to around 9.5% of base salary. To put things in perspective, that would mean an increase of around $150 on a salary of $100,000 versus the previous quarter, bringing the average premium back to where it was two years ago.\n\nThe pay premium value of IT certifications, however, declined by 1.2% over the quarter (and 11% over the past three years), to around 6.5% of base salary.\n\nMoney-making methodology\n\nThe size of the premiums paid varied widely by skill, Foote\u2019s analysts found.\n\nIn the first quarter of 2022, skills centered around \u201cmanagement, methodology, and process\u201d were the most richly-rewarded, buoyed by demand for skills such as AIops, Azure Key Vault, big data analytics, complex event processing\/event correlation, deep learning, DevSecOps, Google TensorFlow, MLOps, prescriptive analytics, PyTorch, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), security architecture and models, and site reliability engineering (SRE), almost all of which continued to grow in value. (Among them, only TensorFlow and SRE fell.)\n\nThe only other skills as richly rewarded were smart contracts (commanding a bonus of a whopping 20% of base pay) and blockchain, both of which Foote classifies as \u201cdata\/database\u201d (the second-best-paying category overall), and Ethereum, which it lumps in with programming languages, the rest of the Azure stack, and a bunch of Apache projects under \u201capplications development tools\/platforms\u201d (the third-best-paying category).\n\nIt is not always the newest technologies that pay the best. Some of the fastest-rising pay premiums during the quarter were for knowledge of the venerable DB2 and Apache Sqoop, a command-line interface for loading Hadoop databases that ceased development last year.\n\nOther skills with fast-rising premiums included WebSphere MQ, Apache Ant, Azure Cosmos DB, DataRobot enterprise AI platform, Tibco BusinessWorks, RedHat OpenShift, Microsoft\u2019s System Center Virtual Machine Manager and SharePoint Server, mobile operating systems, and a clutch of SAP technologies.\n\nFoote does not report on any SAP certifications, but among the 579 certifications it does report on, architecture, project management, process and information security certifications remain the most valuable, commanding a pay premium of just over 8%. They are in long-term decline, though, while over the past year or two database certifications have been rising fast to meet them (and are now offer a pay premium of over 7%).\n\nCisco Certified Architect remains the most lucrative certification, followed by Certified ScrumMaster, Zachman Certified Enterprise Architect, and a bunch of cybersecurity qualifications: Certified Secure Software Lifecycle Professional (CSSLP), EC-Council Certified Encryption Specialist (ECES), GIAC Security Expert (GSE), and GIAC Security Leadership (GSLC).\n\nThe fastest-gaining certifications included the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge, Certified Healthcare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner (ISC2), and vendor-specific certifications such as Juniper Networks Certified Professional (JNCIP), AWS Certified Data Analytics, IBM Certified Systems Administrator, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Certified Architect Professional, and Tibco Certified Architect.\n\nCertified profits\n\nMuch as there was profit to be made selling pick-axes during the goldrush, there\u2019s also money to be made in the certification process itself, with pay premiums rising fast for CompTIA Certified Technical Trainers and Microsoft Certified Trainers.\n\nFoote reminded CIOs that demand is not the only thing affecting the pay premium commanded by these skills: There may also be changes in supply, as more workers pick up the skills they see paying the biggest premiums or are encouraged by aggressive vendor marketing to pursue particular training programs.\n\nThere is also a great deal of volatility in the rankings, making it difficult to base long-term career or IT strategy decisions on one quarter\u2019s numbers. Over one-third of the noncertified skills surveyed changed in value over the quarter, 12.6% of them rising and 21% falling. The data and databases segment was the most volatile, with more than half the skills surveyed changing in value, 39.7% of them downward.