Salary Survey 2008
By Agatha Gilmore, Mike Prokopeak, Kellye Whitney, Deanna Hartley, Lindsay Edmonds Wickman, Brian Summerfield —1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
According to the survey, almost 95 percent of you are certified in a technical field, with many of you receiving your first certification in the past three years. About 15 percent of you received your first cert in 2008, while 18 percent received your first cert in 2007, and 11 percent in 2006.
The number of respondents who added one new certification in the past year ticked slightly upward this year, to 38 percent from 36.5 percent in 2007. There was a corresponding drop in the number of respondents who did not add a cert to their portfolio this year, from 36.4 percent in 2007 to 34 percent in 2008. There was also a noticeable drop in the number of people who added more than two certifications, from 27.1 percent last year to 11.4 percent this year.
– Mike Prokopeak, email@example.com
Cash Is King
The current economic situation has done more than throw Wall Street and various banks and credit institutions into a flaming tizzy. It also has put cash — and how and where to earn it — on the minds of IT professionals.
Compensation and benefits topped the list of IT pros’ top three extreme concerns, comprising 31.8 percent of the Salary Survey responses. Job security came in a close second at 30.4 percent, and the state of the IT job market followed close behind at 29.7 percent.
It’s likely the continuing effects of globalization, as well as the weakened economy, are reshaping the way information technology departments and organizations do business, and the IT job market is shifting accordingly. More than a quarter of respondents said they are extremely concerned about the future of IT, and 23.6 percent of survey participants report being extremely worried about employer support for certification.
The issues of the value of certification and how certifications are executed stirred up the least concern from the survey respondent pool. Only 10.1 percent of participants are extremely concerned about decertification. The second-lowest area of concern involved cheating, ethics and test security, which may be due to the increasing number of performance-based certifications on the market.
Like an old, familiar teddy bear, the problems associated with IT outsourcing seem to be losing their stuffing year over year. This could be because IT pros are getting used to the phenomenon. Some 64.9 percent of survey respondents said they have not been affected by outsourcing at all. The second largest respondent pool, with 20.7 percent, said they have benefited greatly, as they now work for an outsourcing company. Only 4.4 percent of respondents report losing a job or being replaced as a result of outsourcing. And roughly the same number of respondents, 4.5 percent, reported being repositioned within the same organization.
IT professionals aren’t known as the chattiest of workers, likely preferring to express themselves with explosive lines of code, but those who did take time to submit comments had a wide range of responses to outsourcing.
Some were bad: “Outsourcing has reduced both the number of and pay for technical positions,” “My salary has been forced down and the quality of the support offered has plummeted to the lowest and cheapest common denominator” and “As a contractor it limits my opportunities.”
And some were good: “Received grant diverted from E4B visa programs, allowed MCSE, CCNA, CCA, Novell, and Linux training,” “Am in the process of outsourcing our server hosting; won’t lose my job due to my senior role and key member of the management team” and “Left my old employer — took a new job with outsourcing company that values certification more and demonstrates it financially.”
And some IT pros’ feelings about outsourcing straddled the fence: “I used to be a Cisco TAC Engineer in an outsourcing company, and this made some conflict between two totally different cultures which made me leave. I consider outsourcing excellent for cutting the cost but disastrous for quality of work and stability.”
Outsourcing concerns seem to revolve around several key areas: the increased workload for those left behind, the language barriers and poor levels of support that can follow afterward, and some respondents worry outsourcing is reducing the IT professional’s value and therefore reducing compensation levels.
One participant wrote that outsourcing offers a “greater competitive environment [and creates a] need for solid educational certification status.” This makes sense since one of the key components in globalization is an increase in market competition, and that dovetails the many survey comments that indicated certification became a differentiator.
Certification helped some IT pros find jobs after their companies or departments, or some piece therein, was outsourced. Others were able to gain certifications in their new positions and thus could expand or improve their knowledge and skills, which impacts how easy it is to find a job or be promoted once you are gainfully employed.
One might conclude that certification still has significant value despite the changing and frequently uncertain nature of the IT industry as a whole. This theory is supported by the 21.6 percent of survey respondents that reported being extremely concerned about recertification and maintaining their skills.
It appears that, like cash, it’s better to have certifications than to have none.
– Kellye Whitney, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Effect of Demographics
In keeping with our findings over the past few years, demographics — and we primarily take into account gender, age and level of education — continue to play a significant role in determining the average annual salaries of IT professionals.
An interesting find this year is related to the ever-increasing gender gap in the IT industry. While the phenomenon itself isn’t new, the statistics associated with it are newsworthy. The earning gap reported between men and women almost tripled this year to $6,400 from $2,190 in 2007.
The average annual salary reported by men was $59,140, compared with $52,730 for women. On the other hand, the average salary for all respondents — men and women included — amounted to $58,520 because male respondents constituted 90.4 percent of the total respondents, and females only represented a tiny sliver of the pie.
Age is another component to consider when assessing the average annual salaries of IT professionals. Of course, it should be noted that age itself cannot determine or predict one’s financial earnings in the IT industry. It is intricately interwoven with other factors such as education, professional qualifications and location. The average salaries reported by our respondents and the corresponding statistics can be found in tabular form in Fig. 4.
Globally, it appears the two highest-paid age groups are at the upper end of the spectrum. The 60-64 age range comes out on top, with an average salary of $94,640, followed by the 55-59 range, with an average salary of $88,050.
What continues to be noteworthy, however, is that in accordance with the previous years’ reports, the oldest age group of respondents (65 and up) continues to experience a dramatic drop-off in average annual salary: a reported $66,830. This leads us to wonder whether the sudden decrease in figures could be attributed to possible part-time employment for these individuals, who likely are phasing into retirement. On the whole, however, average annual salary rises as you move up the age ladder.1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |