2005 Hiring and Salary Outlook

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While IT hiring expectations for 2005 are positive, companies continue to take a cautious approach to adding staff. Many organizations are holding off on filling or creating full-time positions until they have identified a clear, sustainable need for more personnel. However, demand for IT professionals with the hottest skills and specialties is growing and changing the way businesses manage their recruitment practices.

The most marketable individuals often find themselves in the driver’s seat, able to evaluate several job offers. As a result, firms that recently required multiple interviews are accelerating their hiring processes today to compete for the best candidates.

In addition to technical expertise and professional certifications, companies seek well-rounded IT staff who understand business fundamentals and can communicate complex technology concepts and strategies. Candidates with well-developed interpersonal skills who can collaborate on project teams are in demand. Those with a demonstrated ability to make bottom-line contributions are also at an advantage.

According to research by Robert Half Technology, the hiring outlook is brightest next year for individuals in:



  • Networking: Network security issues have become a key business priority, which is fueling demand for professionals who can identify and prevent potential problems. Firms also are recruiting networking talent to support heavier investments in wireless and mobile technologies.
  • Database Management: Organizations are hiring database professionals who can help them collect, store and maximize their use of customer information.
  • Applications Development: Businesses are looking for professionals experienced in developing company-wide Internet applications that integrate with legacy systems.
  • Project Management: CIOs are turning to project managers to help minimize time and cost overruns while leveraging existing investments.
  • Internet/Intranet Development: Firms seek IT talent skilled in Active Server Pages (ASP), JavaScript and Extensible Markup Language (XML). Individuals experienced developing in the .NET environment also are in demand.
  • Technical Support: Companies need people who are able to support and train internal and external customers. As a result, they are hiring help-desk analysts and managers, systems administrators and technical trainers.


Just as hiring activity is expected to be moderate in the coming year, so are changes in starting salaries. Most IT positions should see minimal adjustment in base compensation from 2004 levels. The largest gains are projected for the following areas:



  • Base compensation for systems auditors is forecast to rise 5.1 percent in 2005––the largest percentage increase in any IT category. Average starting salaries for these professionals are projected in the range of $63,250 to $81,750 annually.
  • Pre- and post-sales consultants can also expect strong compensation growth, with starting salaries increasing 3.9 percent, to between $53,500 and $78,250.
  • Programmer/analysts will be offered base compensation ranging from $52,500 to $83,250 per year––a 3.6 percent increase from 2004.
  • Individuals with certain development skills are typically offered more. For example, those well versed in C#, Java, JavaScript, .NET and ASP can expect starting compensation to be up to 10 percent higher. Knowledge of Visual Basic or C++ could increase base pay by at least 5 percent.


Other findings include:



  • Network security administrators will earn 2.3 percent more in 2005.
  • Disaster recovery specialists will see base compensation rise 2.2 percent.
  • Average starting salaries for LAN/WAN administrators will increase 1.1 percent.
  • Data warehouse analysts will experience a 1.1 percent gain in base compensation.


To secure the best job opportunities and salaries in 2005, IT professionals should reassess their skill sets and expertise to make sure they are keeping up with industry trends. Individuals who take proactive steps to gain in-demand knowledge and experience will stand out from the competition, whether they are pursuing career advancement at their current companies or seeking a new position elsewhere.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the North America and Europe, and offers online job search services at www.rht.com.


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