York Thought Leadership Blog

Scrum Certification Equals Transformation

Posted by Danielle Toste on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 @ 13:03 PM

Scrum. Now that is an interesting word. It makes you think, what is scrum? Well, scrum is an Agile framework used for completing complex projects. It is often referred to as transforming the world of work. A product owner creates a prioritized wish list called a product backlog. The team pulls a small chunk from the top of that wish list and decides how to implement those pieces. The team then meets daily to assess their daily progress. Once the project is complete, they review and then select a new chunk of tasks to accomplish. Scrum ensures that the most valuable work has been completed once the project ends or funding for a project runs out.

So, now that we understand the fundamentals of Scrum, why should you become a Certified ScrumMaster?

First off, on average, a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) salary is between $70,000- $100,000 and can even go higher! Secondly, you are a leader. Your job is to make sure that Scrum is understood by all members of your team and to train your team. The ScrumMaster helps everyone improve to make the Scrum team more productive and valuable.          

 How do you become a CSM?

You must take a CSM course from a Certified Scrum Trainer and be able to demonstrate your progress though the online CSM test. Then, you must attend a two-day course taught by a Certified Scrum Trainer and pass an exam. Once you have completed these 2 steps, you will be able to complete your Scrum Alliance membership profile. You can find a list of courses here.

Once you have become certified, you will be eligible to join a user group, contribute an article to the Scrum Alliance community, attend Scrum Alliance gatherings, and participate in the CSM LinkedIn group. By having access to all of these resources, it will further enhance your knowledge and skills ensuring that practices and principles you are responsible for implementing are being continuously improved on.

A CSM should be able to handle 2 or 3 teams at a time. Even though there isn’t a set list of what ScrumMasters overlook, here are a few examples of questions he/she should be asking themselves to make sure they are accomplishing their goals:

  • How is my Product Owner doing?
    • Is the Product Backlog prioritized according to his/her latest thinking?
    • Is the backlog an information radiator, clearly visible to everyone?
    • Can you help radiate by showing everyone printouts?
  • How is my team doing?
    • Do team members hold each other accountable to high standards, and challenge each other to grow?
    • Are the team’s task estimates and/or task board up-to-date?
    • Has the team kept focus on acceptance criteria?
  • How are our engineering practices doing?
  • How is the organization doing?

By asking yourself the questions above as a CSM, you can see where you are making a difference, see the work transform into a smooth process, and advance your career.

For more information, visit http://www.scrumalliance.org/                                                             


Topics: IT consulting, IT Certifications

2014 Dice Salary Survey - The Perks of Being a Technology Professional

Posted by Danielle Toste on Tue, Feb 25, 2014 @ 11:02 AM

Great news for technology professionals! Salaries are going up and unemployment remains
low, according to Dice’s Tech Salary Survey. The average salary for technology professionals has grown over $20,000 in the past 10 years and is around $87,500, a three percent increase from 2012.

With about two-thirds of IT professionals feeling confident they can easily progress their career, the competitive market leads to a boost in pay increases and employers are recognizing that they need to find ways to retain their employees.

Last year, about 45% of tech professionals said they had a pay increase sparked by a merit raise. And, ever more interesting, trends show that pay increases are more likely to happen early in a technology professional’s career with bonuses being given to more tenured professionals. But, either way, tech professionals usually can look forward to some sort of
compensation increase!

So where can IT professionals look at earning the most money?

  • California still holds the top position thanks to Silicon Valley. On average, a tech’s salary is about $108,000. That is a 7.25% increase from last year!
  • Minneapolis ranks 16 in the United States for highest paid metropolitan area with professionals
    earning around $87,000 a year.
  • Chicago is right behind them with salary averages around $85,000.
  • St. Louis is ranked 29th with an average of $76,000. 

The Skills That Are Paying Big Money

There have been many recent articles published about the top skills that IT professionals should have in 2014. Big data is the most talked about skill and these professionals have the highest pay checks. Companies understand the importance of big data and that it plays a major role in their competitive plans, which leads to higher pay—a solid six-figure salary.

What other skills are paying a six-figure salary?

Cloud, mobile, DevOps, design, and project management are also great skills to have this year that can help ensure a healthy yearly salary.


For a look at the full survey, click here.

Topics: Blogs, ITJobs, IT consulting, IT industry, Industry Trends, IT Certifications, Industry News, IT Job Search, IT Hiring, Information Technology, IT Skills

The In’s and Out’s of SAP HANA Certification

Posted by Danielle Toste on Tue, Feb 4, 2014 @ 13:02 PM

SAP is an integrated enterprise resource planning system software that controls whole organizations. SAP is a leader in integrating different departments because it provides industry specific solutions according to each business’s need.

With SAP being the world’s biggest ERP provider and supporting many industries all over the world, many organizations implement SAP HANA (High Performance Analytic Appliance) globally. SAP HANA allows businesses to run in real-time, meaning that it can accelerate analytics, business processes, sentiment data processing, and provide predictive capabilities. Because of that, there is a large demand for SAP consultants to apply SAP HANA into businesses and to work on on-going support projects. By receiving this certification, it is one of the easiest ways to transition into higher paid IT positions and it opens up new job opportunities throughout the world.

The SAP Certified Application Professional (edition 2013) - SAP HANA exam verifies that the candidate possesses the knowledge required in the area of the SAP HANA profile. The certification builds on the practical experience gained during participation in a HANA project team. Also, this verifies that the candidate can apply their knowledge practically in projects.

The test focuses on 7 main topics:

  • System Architecture
  • Data Modeling
  • Optimization and Performance
  • Security and Authorization
  • Data Provisioning
  • Reporting
  • Lifecycle Management

The certification exam is offered all throughout the year in various cities such as Atlanta, GA., Philadelphia, PA, San Francisco, CA, and Lombard, IL. The exam is 180 minutes, 80 questions and costs around $500.

It is recommended that several training courses are completed before taking this exam. Courses are:

  • HA100- SAP HANA- Introductions
  • HA300- SAP HANA- Implementation and Modeling
  • HA350- SAP HANA- Data Provisioning
  • HA360- SAP HANA- Hands-on Lab
  • HA900- SAP HANA Live
  • HA901R- CO-PA Accelerator with SAP HANA


To sign up for the certification, click Here.


What other certifications would you like to see us profile? Leave your comments below!

Topics: Blogs, IT consulting, Industry Trends, IT Certifications, Industry News, SAP

Top 5 IT Certifications for 2014

Posted by Sarah Brown on Tue, Jan 14, 2014 @ 08:01 AM

The following are some of the most talked-about, fastest growing IT certifications available. They are predicted to be the most valuable certifications for IT professionals in the upcoming year.

Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC)

The CRISC is obtained through ISACA and “is awarded to those experienced in business and technology risk management, and the design, implementation, monitoring and maintenance of IS control.” To obtain this certification you must pass the CRISC exam, have at least three years of cumulative experience performing the tasks of a CRISC professional across at least three CRISC domains, adhere to the ISACA Code of Professional Ethics, and meet the terms of the CRISC Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Policy. According to CIO.com “premium pay for this ISACA certification has risen 9.1 percent in the last three- and six-month periods.” Learn more about the CRISC certification Here.

CWNP Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP)

The CWSP certification is a professional level wireless LAN certification for the CWNP Program. The certification is increasing in value because it ensures that you have the skills to successfully secure enterprise Wi-Fi networks from hackers. To earn the CWSP certification you must pass two exams. CWNP also offers the Certified Wireless Network Expert (CWNE) certification, a more advanced certification for which the CWSP certification is a prerequisite. Learn more about the CWSP certification Here, and the CWNE certification Here.

GIAC Certified Forensics Analyst (GCFA)

The GCFA certification is for “professionals working in the information security, computer forensics, and incident response fields.” The certification focuses on the “core skills required to collect and analyze data from Windows and Linux computer systems.” To obtain the GCFA certification you must pass an exam, and the certification must be renewed every four years. The GCFA certifies that you have the knowledge, skills, and ability to conduct formal incident investigations and handle advanced incident handling scenarios. Learn more about the GCFA certification Here.

HP/Accredited Solutions Certification

These certifications have seen gains of at least 9 percent over the last two quarters, and are predicted to continue with this trend. These certifications include HP/Accredited Solutions Expert (ASE - all), HP/Master Accredited Solutions Expert (MASE - all), HP/Master Accredited Systems Engineer (Master ASE). There are HP ExpertOne certifications for all areas of the data center including cloud computing, servers, storage, networking, business software, and more. Learn more about the HP ExpertOne program and the requirements for each of the certifications available Here.

Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA)

The RHCA is Red Hat's highest level of certification and has grown 25 percent in the last three months. The requirements for this certification are extensive. You must have a current RHCE certification along with Red Hat Certificates of Expertise in Deployment and Systems Management, Directory Services and Authentication or Red Hat Certified Virtualization Administrator, Clustering and Storage Management, Security: Network Services or Server Hardening, and Performance Tuning. Learn more about the RHCA certification Here.


What certifications do you predict will be the most in-demand? Let us know!

Topics: IT Certifications

Certification Spotlight: Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

Posted by Sarah Brown on Tue, Nov 26, 2013 @ 11:11 AM

What Is MCSA?

The MCSA is Microsoft’s second level of IT professional certifications; the first being the MTA certification. The newly updated MCSA certification is intended for IT professionals seeking entry-level IT positions, and focuses on core technical skills needed for a career in IT. The six specialty areas in which you can receive a MCSA certification are Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, SQL Server 2008, SQL Server 2012, Windows 7, and Windows 8.

What’s The Process?

For each specialty there is a process of 2-3 exams which cost $150 each. There are no required courses to qualify for the exams, but each exam is accompanied by a set of optional training courses to help you prepare.  One option is a 5-day course that ranges from $2,500-$3,000 depending on the institution. And, another option is a 3-day course that can range from $1,500-$2,000.

Windows Server 2008

An MCSA certification for Windows Server 2008 validates your skills and ability to work with Windows Server 2008 in a real-world business context. This specialty has 3 exams with 4 optional training courses.

View the training courses Here.

Windows Server 2012

This certification shows that you have the primary set of Windows Server 2012 skills which are relevant throughout multiple solution areas in a business environment. The certification qualifies you for a position as a network or computer systems administrator or a computer support specialist. There are 3 exams for this specialty with 3 optional training courses.

View the training courses Here.

SQL Server 2008

Earning an SQL Server certification qualifies you for a position as a database developer or database analyst. The SQL Server 2008 certification has 2 exams with 5 optional training courses.

View the training courses Here.

SQL Server 2012

The SQL Server 2012 certification demonstrates your skills and insights in developing and maintaining the next wave of mission-critical environments. The specialty has 3 exams and 3 optional training courses.

View the training courses Here.

Windows 7

This certification proves you have the expertise to configure and support a Windows 7 enterprise system. The MCSA Windows 7 certification has 2 exams with 2 optional training courses.

View the training courses Here.

Windows 8

Earning an MCSA Windows 8 certification qualifies you for a position as a computer support specialist and proves you have the expertise to configure, manage, and maintain a Windows 8 enterprise system. There are 2 exams and 2 optional training courses for this certification.

View the training courses Here.

Is It Worth It?

Although the MCSA certification is intended for entry-level IT professionals, it is important to note that getting an MCSA certification is a prerequisite for the next level of Microsoft certifications. Therefore, it is worth the time and money if you plan to work toward those higher certifications. As with any certification, being able to include the accomplishment on your resume will help you get noticed by a hiring manager because it shows that you are proactive about advancing in your career in the IT industry.

Are you MCSA certified? Let us know what you thought about the certification process!

Click Here to view our other IT certification spotlights.

Topics: IT consulting, IT Certifications

Certification Spotlight: VMware Certified Professional (VCP)

Posted by Sarah Brown on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

What Is VCP?

Like many other leading software companies, VMware has created its own class of IT certifications that are specifically focused on evaluating the ability to install, configure and manage VMware’s virtualization platforms. There are three types of VCP certifications available that coincide with VMware’s three main product groups: VCP-Cloud, VCP5-DCV, and VCP5-DT.

It is important to note that the VCP certifications do not expire. VMware retires old exams over time as updated products are introduced, but the certifications themselves do not need to be renewed (candidates will be notified via email if this policy changes). When major product updates are released, updated certifications become available (i.e. VCP4 is followed by VCP5). When this happens the candidate still holds the certification for the previous product update, but will need to apply for the new certification in order to be up-to-date.


Applying for the VCP certifications may be different for each candidate. Every candidate needs to pass an exam to get each certification, but some candidates will be required to attend specific courses before qualifying to take the exam. This process is based on the candidate’s experience and educational needs. Detailed information about each of the certifications and how to apply for them are included below.


The VMware Certified Professional – Cloud (VCP-Cloud) certification “validates your ability to install, configure and administer a Cloud environment using vCloud Director and related components”. There are two scenarios to qualify for this certification:

Scenario 1

1. Hold a VCP5-DCV certification.

2. Pass the laaS Exam.

VMware lists three recommended courses to prepare candidates for the laaS Exam, but these are NOT REQUIRED.

Scenario 2

1. Pass one of two qualifying courses:

  • VMware vCloud Director: Install, Configure, Manage
  • VMware vCloud: Deploy and Manage the VMware Cloud [V1.5]

2. Pass the VCP-Cloud Exam.


The VMware Certified Professional 5 – Data Center Virtualization (VCP5-DCV) certification “confirms that you have the education needed to successfully install, deploy, scale and manage VMware vSphere environments, as well as the skills obtained by a minimum of six months experience with VMware infrastructure technologies.” There are three scenarios to qualify for this certification:

Scenario 1

1. You hold VCP2, VCP3, or you have no experience with VMware DCV technologies.

2. Pass one of five qualifying courses:

  • VMware vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage [V5.0]
  • VMware vSphere: Fast Track [V5.0]
  • VMware vSphere: Optimize and Scale [V5.0]
  • VMware vSphere: Troubleshooting Workshop [V5.1]
  • VMware vSphere with Operations Management: Fast Track [V5.1]

3. Pass the VCP5-DCV Exam.

Scenario 2

1. You hold a VCP4-DCV certification; or you do not hold a VCP4-DCV certification but you have passed a VCP4-DCV qualifying course.

2. Pass the qualifying course:

  • VMware vSphere: What's New [V5.1]

3. Pass the VCP5-DCV Exam.

Scenario 3

1. Hold a VCP5-DT or VCP-Cloud certification.

2. Pass the VCP5-DCV Exam.

VMware recommends that candidates in this scenario should take the VMware vSphere: What’s New [V5.1] course to prepare for the exam.


The VMware Certified Professional 5 – Desktop (VCP5-DT) certification “is directed toward Virtualization Systems Engineers who seek to demonstrate their ability to install and configure the VMware View environment and enable View Client users.” There are two scenarios to qualify for this certification:

Scenario 1

1. Pass one of five qualifying courses:

  • VMware View: Install, Configure, Manage [V5.0]
  • VMware View: Install, Configure, Manage [V5.1]
  • VMware View: Desktop Fast Track [V5.0]
  • VMware View: Desktop Fast Track [V5.1]
  • VMware Horizon View: Install, Configure, Manage [V5.2]

2. Pass the VCP-Desktop Exam

Scenario 2

1. Hold a VCP5-DCV or VCP-Cloud certification.

2. Pass the VMware View Exam.

VMware lists three recommended courses to prepare candidates for the VMware View Exam, but these are NOT REQUIRED.

Exam Details

The qualifying and recommended courses for the VCP exam can all be taken either in-person or online. The exam, however, must be taken at a test center authorized by VMware. Each candidate has 90 minutes to complete 85 multiple choice questions; if the exam is taken in a country where English is not the primary language there is an extra 30 minutes allowed. Passing the exam requires a score of at least 300 out of a 100-500 scoring range.

Is It Worth It?

There is some controversy throughout the industry whether the process to receive a VCP certification is worth the money. In the past, it was common for each candidate to spend up to $3,000 on courses to prepare for the VCP exam and another $225 for the exam itself. VMware has recently changed their certification process, however, so there is no consensus yet on whether the issues have been resolved.

As with any IT certification, being VCP certified shows that the IT professional has taken steps to improve their knowledge and skill set. The qualifying and recommended courses for a VCP certification are more similar to a workshop where the students have hands-on experience rather than learning based on textbooks. It is also widely undisputed that VMware is a leader in virtualization providers, therefore holding a VMware certification can be valuable to an IT career.

Do you have experience with the new VCP certification process? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Topics: IT consulting, IT Certifications

Finding the Right IT Job for Your Skill Set

Posted by Madeline Stone on Tue, Oct 8, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

Finding the right job is tricky business. IT is no exception—you’ve built up a skill set, but how do you know where to take those skills? It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the opportunities ahead of you, or to feel like you have no idea what’s out there. Here’s how to use your existing skill set to figure out the right job to go after:

  1. Know your skills. You need to establish a baseline to know what it is you can do and are proud of. It’s hard to self-promote. Most of us are programmed to silence the part of your brain that self-congratulates for a job well done. It’s critical that you take some time, reflect on your resume and your work history, and highlight the skills and accomplishments that mean the most to you. This will give you your starting place for your search.
  2. Know your goals. Once you’ve figured out what you’re best at and enjoy the most, think about where you’d like to be.  Are you interested in a management track? Is staying technical more appealing? Do you want to get into an organization and stay there, or do you prefer a new challenge at a new company on a regular basis? Thinking about your goals and your skills will help you zero in on the kind of opportunity that would fit you best.
  3. Know your people. Reach out to mentors, professional contacts, friends—any folks who might be able to tell you what’s out there and/or what the options you’re considering are like. If you’ve determined that you’re especially proud of how you lead projects and you’d like to keep doing that, see if you can’t reach out to a project-manager friend and get her two cents on how to get there. See if the skills she highlights match up with yours—if they do, you’re on the right track.
  4. Know your options. So you’ve figured out who you are, what you want, and if you’re a good fit for it. The next step is to get out there and look for it! Start reading through position descriptions to confirm if you match up. When you feel confident that you’d be a good fit, you can start applying and working your network for contacts who might be able to help you out. An added bonus:  now that you’ve reviewed your skills and accomplishments, you’ll be able to explain to folks why you’re a great fit for the job!


There are lots of great ways to navigate the job search—this is a good place to start, but it’s not the only one. Anything you’d add? Give us a shout in the comments! We’d love to hear from you. 

Topics: IT consulting, IT Certifications

Business Analysts and Project Managers: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Briana Perrino on Tue, Sep 17, 2013 @ 15:09 PM

Project managers and business analysts are two integral parts of a project team and they are often confused for one another due to their overlapping responsibilities. However, they actually play very different roles with complementary skills in the project completion process and are both necessary to ensure a successful project. Here’s a breakdown of their similarities and differences:


  • Both are responsible for working together and creating the scope and definition of the project
  • Both define the key objectives that need to be accomplished
  • Both identify the risks and/or challenges associated with the project


The Project Manager

  • The project manager is typically the first person assigned to a project.
  • They bear the decision-making responsibilities and establish the team of people needed for the project.
  • On top of defining the project, a project manager is responsible for reducing it down to a set of manageable and assignable tasks.
  • A PM must manage all team members and address any issues that arise. Along with that, they must be able to adapt to change as projects very rarely go exactly as planned.
  • They are charged with the mission of completing the project on time and within budget – easier said than done!
  • Major skills include being able to see the “big picture,” management, and the ability to direct


The Business Analyst

  • A BA is usually brought on to a project after it has been assigned to a project manager.
  • They are responsible for bridging the gap between the business and IT, as well as communicating with stakeholders.
  • A BA knows the business, as well as the project inside and out.
  • They focus on gathering requirements, making sense of the requirements, and ensuring that the project is adhering to these requirements in order to solve the business problems.
  • Major skills include being detail oriented, excellent listening and communication, and the ability to identify and investigate issues when they occur throughout the course of the project


You may ask, “Can this all be done by one person?” Well, technically yes, and it is not uncommon for smaller companies to have one individual to perform all of the above responsibilities. However, many experts agree that the best case scenario is one where they have both a project manager and a business analyst on a team. This will help ensure that all components of the project can be thoroughly considered in order to deliver a high quality project.   

Do you think each project needs both a business analyst and project manager on the team? Please share your thoughts below. 

Topics: IT consulting, IT Certifications

Certification Spotlight: Project Management Professional (PMP)

Posted by Briana Perrino on Tue, Aug 27, 2013 @ 13:08 PM

A project manager’s responsibilities can include the planning, execution, and closing of projects within an organization. And, a good project manager knows how to do all of these things while assessing risks and making cost-effective choices.

Information technology is one of the great industries in which project managers can develop their careers in a growing and challenging environment. With that being said, in an industry as competitive as IT, it can be helpful to obtain certifications to help you stand out from the rest. Here’s what you need to know about obtaining the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

What is it?

The PMP credential is one of the most globally recognized certifications for project managers and allows all project managers to share a common language and standard frameworks when executing projects. This certification helps to demonstrate an individual’s experience, education, and competency in leading and directing projects and teams.

The Requirements

To apply, a person must fall into one of the two following categories:

  1. They have earned a four-year degree (bachelor’s degree, etc.) and had at least 3 years of project management experience. This experience should include 4,500 hours of leading and directing projects, as well as 35 hours of project management education.
  2. They have earned a secondary degree (high school diploma, associate’s degree, etc.) and had at least five years of project management experience. This should include 7,500 hours of leading and directing projects, as well as 35 hours of project management education.

For those who do not fall into one of those two categories, another option is the Certified Associate in Project Management which has lower requirements for the amount of project management experience.

The cost of the exam can range from $250 to $600 depending on whether or not you are a member of PMI, as well as whether you choose to take the computer or paper exam.  In order to maintain the certification, project managers must earn 60 PDUs every three years, as well as submit either a $60 or $150 fee, depending on PMI involvement, in order to renew their certification.

Why get it?

  • More and more companies are posting jobs that either require or prefer PMP certification as they are recognizing the importance of strong project management skills in order to deliver successful projects.
  • It may increase your salary as education and experience often drive your rate of pay, particularly for consultants.
  • The PMP is an internationally recognized certification by the International Organization for Standardization.
  • Obtaining a PMP certification, or really any certification, shows your commitment to your professional development and it further establishes your credibility as an expert in your field.


Some people find a company’s preference for certified project managers controversial as many argue that while a certification may prove that a person has extensive project management knowledge, it does not guarantee that they have the leadership or governance skills necessary to execute a project. This is definitely a very valid point; but when it comes down to it, project managers can surely benefit both personally and professionally from the training needed to earn the PMP.

Have you earned your PMP? What recommendations would you make to others who are interested in pursuing the certification? Please share your thoughts below! 

Topics: IT consulting, IT Certifications

The Pros and Cons of IT Certifications

Posted by Melissa Zeman on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 @ 11:03 AM

The value of certifications is a widely debated topic in the IT industry. There are many benefits associated with obtaining an IT certification such as enhancing your resume, keeping up with technologic changes, and seizing new opportunities within the technology field. Yet, some IT certifications have yet to prove their real value in making job candidates more marketable or making them more money. So, the question still remains, “Is the money and time spent acquiring an IT certification worth it in the long run?”


The Pros 

· Encourages you to learn material about the        subject matter that you may not know or should know
· Gives hiring managers a quick marker to your knowledge level in the subject
· Shows commitment to learning the subject
· IT certification can help you get that first foot on the career ladder

The Cons

· IT Certifications almost always have a limited shelf life
· Certification is sometimes used as the end all and be all of recruitment
· They are not a substitute for real world experience
· Cost
· They do not guarantee a job

Comparing Certification Salaries

MCSA (Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate)

- Salary Range: $52,000-$115,000

- Average Salary: $59,000

MCSE: Private Cloud

- Salary Range: $52,000-$102,000

- Average Salary: $61,000

PMP (Project Management Professional)

- Salary Range: $65,000-$93,000

- Average Salary: $86,000

While IT certifications can certainly provide you with an advantage over the competition in some situations, there are many other factors that employers consider when looking to hire. If you have the knowledge and experience along with a certification, this may make you stand out to a hiring manager. If you don’t, your certification can only get you so far.

Take the time to research your chosen career path and determine whether or not other people in that field have found a certain certification beneficial to their career. If it looks as though it won’t make that much of a difference, you may be able to save yourself some time and money.

What are your thoughts on the value of IT certifications? Please share your thoughts below!


Topics: IT Certifications