Computerworld's 2007 Jobs Report: Back From the Brink
After a big tumble in 2002, IT salaries have been climbing steadily. But for IT workers trying to regain their financial footing, a string of 3% increases makes the going tough.
Computerworld - Jason Kent is in a tough spot.
As an assistant information systems analyst at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Corcoran, Kent splits his time between providing help desk support to 400 to 500 end users and handling IT procurement activities.
Kent's workload has increased considerably since he joined the IT group three years ago. His salary has increased, too, with a 5% annual pay increase this year through his union contract. That's a good measure higher than the 3.7% average increase that other IT professionals fetched in 2007, according to Computerworld's 21st Annual Salary Survey.
Problem is, a 5% boost for Kent works out to only a nominal increase. He started with the corrections agency at a salary well below the $80,000 median for the 9,290 IT workers and executives polled by Computerworld. And while living and working in the Corcoran area, which sits halfway between Fresno and Bakersfield, isn't as expensive as it would be in Los Angeles or Sacramento, it has been difficult for Kent and his family to make ends meet.
Although he has explored other opportunities, Kent fears that if he takes a position in the private sector, he'll end up with less job security.
But "I'm not making much more than I would if I were the manager of a McDonald's or a Starbucks," he says.
Although IT professionals who work in the public sector typically earn less than their private-sector peers, Kent's situation reflects the challenges that many working-class technologists are facing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. IT employees still earn an average wage more than double the $36,140 median income for full-time workers; however, double-digit increases in gas prices and rising costs for groceries and other items are devouring their salary gains.
Yet there is good news for IT pros. After a substantial drop in 2002, IT pay has been slowly recovering, with small gains reported in each of the five years that followed. Plus, 75% of respondents to this year's survey reported that their salaries had increased, and 72% reported an increase in 2006.
And maybe most important, demand for those with specific IT skills, such as seasoned Web developers and people with network convergence skills, continues to climb and place upward pressure on salaries, according to recruiters, hiring managers and labor experts. In fact, IT workers with jobs that utilize their Web and networking skills saw their salaries outpace the 3.7% median increase.
"There's a supply-and-demand impact here," says David Van De Voort, a consultant at Mercer in Chicago. Although IT workers' compensation isn't skyrocketing like it was in the dot-com years, their wage gains continue to outpace those of the general workforce, he adds.
Meanwhile, many CIOs say turnover is starting to creep up while demand for project management, J2EE and enterprise architect skills are pushing salaries for many of those professionals higher, says Van De Voort. But that tells only part of the story. Although heightened demand for IT skills is lifting compensation across the market, not everyone is benefiting.
In Depth: IT Salaries on the Rise
- 2014 IT Workplace Trends and Salary Guide Staying competitive in the IT market can be challenging. This guide provides you with insight into variety of IT workplace trends including, U.S....
- SIP Migration: Addressing CIOs' Concerns Recent data from IDG Research shows that many IT executives are counting on SIP to help them meet employee efficiency and customer experience...
- SBIC: Transforming Information Security This report combines perspectives on technologies with experience in strategy to help security teams navigate complex decisions regarding technology deployments while maximizing investments.
- InfoTech: Cloud File Sharing Organizations are increasingly turning to cloud file sharing solutions to meet end-user's needs for a lightweight and effective collaboration tool. In this report,...
- Top 4 Digital Signage Fails Join RMG Networks for a look at four of the most common reasons digital signage fails in corporate businesses. Learn about strategies to...
- Mastering the Art of Mobile Content Management Mobile device usage in the enterprise has skyrocketed in recent years, and it continues to escalate. All IT Careers White Papers | Webcasts
Our 28th annual survey results show which IT skills are in high demand and which are cooling off. Also, see how your salary stacks up to peers' with our Smart Salary Tool.