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
- Top 12 Laptop Bags for Mobile Pros
- Think Deleted Text Messages Are Gone Forever? Think Again
- 7 New Faces of the C-suite
- 5 Ways CIOs Can Rationalize Application Portfolios
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- SDCRAA Case Study: Adapting ERP to business needs This case study goes in depth about San Diego County Regional Airport Authority's created flexibility for a changing industry.
- Five Reasons to Think Again about UC There's a lot of noise out there about Unified Communications. Here are five good questions to ask yourself and your prospective UC vendor.
- A Unify Perspective: Gartner's Magic Quadrants for Unified Communication and Corporate Telephony Affirm Unify's Leadership Unify's OpenScape UC and Voice portfolio has placed in the "Leaders" quadrant - the "magic" quadrant - with an especially strong position for...
- A Unify Perspective: Gartner's Engagement Initiative Report Affirms the New Way to Work A transformation of the enterprise that amplifies collective effort, energizes the business and dramatically improves business performance. Experience the new way of working.
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them.
On-Demand Webcast: 7 Reasons to Choose VoIP
Thinking about a new phone system for your business?
Be sure to watch this informative webcast. Steve Strauss, small business columnist for USA...
All IT Careers White Papers |