2005 Salary Survey: Monitoring Your Net Worth

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As an industry, Information Technology has been beleaguered for so long it’s easy to believe the news is all bad, all the time. Happily, that’s not really the case. According to Certification Magazine’s 2005 Salary Survey, IT is doing well and getting better.


For the annual Salary Survey, CertMag editors surveyed 35,167 IT professionals in 170 countries around the globe. With 95.4 percent of those professionals holding technical certifications—the average respondent has 3.29 certifications, up from the 2004 survey’s average of 2.95 certifications per respondent—the survey showed which programs and specialty areas draw the biggest salaries.


As was the case last year, information storage and security bring the largest salaries, along with Cisco networking. Project managers and Java developers also scored well as career choices.


In terms of salaries, the average overall salary for the global survey was $71,100, up from 2004’s average reported salary of $67,000. See Figure 1 for a list of average salaries for 85 major certification programs listed in this year’s survey questionnaire.


For the first time, the Salary Survey’s top five certification programs all reported average salaries of more than $100,000. Two programs from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2 led the list, with the Certified Information Systems Security Management Professional (CISSP-ISSMP) program drawing $116,970 annually and the Certified Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSP-ISSAP) earning $111,870.


Rounding out the top five were the Brocade Certified SAN Designer (BCSD) storage certification ($108,170), the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) program ($105,900) from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and a perennial favorite, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), with $104,020.


Overall, certified professionals this year enjoyed an average 16.4 percent pay increase from 2004, up significantly from last year’s reported increase of 14.1 percent. The global survey clearly showed the value of qualified IT experts, with 23.4 percent of the respondents earning 25 percent or more in salary than they did in 2004.


For this year’s annual Salary Survey report, the editors of Certification Magazine have divided the various elements of the survey into special reports on the pages that follow, highlighting which IT specialties earn the most respect and the most rewards, which countries around the world pay best for certified experts, and how things like gender, age and experience impact paychecks. You’ll also see a profile of the certified respondents to the Salary Survey, learn how IT professionals feel about the industry’s greatest challenges and read which study materials provide the best return on investment.


If any voice is missing in this important discussion, it’s yours. We’ve started a special Salary Survey forum on the CertMag.com discussion board, and editors are anxiously awaiting your input on certification, IT salaries and the industry in general. Please visit www.certmag.com/salaryforum to share your views.


–Tim Sosbe, tsosbe@certmag.com


CertMag’s Salary Survey Methodology
CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey was conducted over a six-week period from Aug. 19 to Oct. 3, 2005. Two methods were used to obtain responses. First, e-mails that contained a link to the online survey were sent to Certification Magazine subscribers asking them to participate. Second, the survey was accessed via invitations or Web site links from 28 companies and organizations.


For the survey, 35,167 IT professionals in 170 countries provided data, The margin of error is no more than +/- 1.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Surveys were data-entered, computer-processed and analyzed by Litchfield Research, a full-service market-research firm specializing in the publishing industry.


This Is Who You Are, and This Is What You Do
When reading survey data, it’s always helpful to benchmark yourself against other respondents. Apples, after all, aren’t oranges. In the fruit salad that was CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey, respondents chimed in from around the world, with data coming from certified IT professionals in 170 countries. While nearly 45 percent of those respondents are from the United States, the report did cover IT experts on six continents.


According to the survey, 95.4 percent of the 35,167 respondents are certified in a technical field. Many of those are fairly recent certificants, with 73.3 percent of respondents receiving their first IT certification in the years since the 21st century began. Twenty-three percent earned their first IT certification in the 1990s.


The average respondent to the Salary Survey had 3.18 certifications, up from last year’s average of 2.96 certifications. The largest group of respondents, 23.6 percent, has just one certification, 22.6 percent have two, 17.9 percent have three, 10.9 percent have four and 7.7 percent have five. Five percent of respondents have 10 or more IT credentials.


A large majority, 84.4 percent, plan to pursue another IT certification in the coming year. This is especially significant since the survey showed 40.4 percent of respondents did not add a certification in the past year. Another 34.8 percent added one certification in the past year, 14.6 percent added two credentials, 5.5 percent added three, 2.1 percent earned four and 2.5 percent added five or more.


Respondents have been involved in IT for varying lengths of time, with 2.8 percent responding as newcomers with less than one year of IT experience and 14.8 as veterans with more than 15 years. Another 29.8 percent have been in IT for one to five years, 37.7 percent for six to 10 years and 14.7 percent for 11 to 15 years.


Most respondents, 93.3 percent, work full-time, with 3.4 percent employed part-time and 3.3 percent unemployed. Sixty percent of those employed work 40 to 50 hours per week, with 16.4 percent working more than 50 hours weekly. The survey reported that 20.7 percent of respondents work 30 to 40 hours per week, and only 2.9 percent work less than 30 hours weekly.


Most respondents, 89.9 percent, were male. As Figure 2 shows, professionals work for companies with a wide range of employee populations. Respondents have been with their current primary employer for varying lengths of time, with 19.6 percent with their current employer less than one year, 26.3 percent with their current employer for one to two years and 29.8 percent on that job three to five years. Only 7.6 percent of respondents have been with their current employer for more than 10 years.


Looking to the future, it’s anybody’s guess where employees will be next year. Nearly half of respondents, 46 percent, intend to change jobs in the coming year—another optimistic sign that the IT economy is improving.


–Tim Sosbe, tsosbe@certmag.com


Salaries by Specialty
In today’s IT industry, all signs seem to point to specialization. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise: As information technology evolves and grows more complex, it becomes much more difficult for any one person to master all or even most of its many aspects. Thus, over time, IT has more or less organically partitioned itself into a variety of interconnected niches. Many of the individuals who occupy job roles in these specialized di

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