Salary Survey 2019: Certified tech pros are getting older, changing jobs

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This feature first appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.

Some certified IT workers like to stick to one thing, but many change jobs fairly frequently.A lot can change in five years. Just ask any parent who has ever watched their child grow up from, say, age 3 to age 8, or age 13 to age 18. Some (most?) 3-year-olds aren’t even toilet-trained, whereas a typical 8-year-old probably knows the entire layout and story of Super Mario Galaxy and has created digital worldscapes in Minecraft more complicated than the plot of Game of Thrones.

Your average certified IT professional may not explore a galaxy, or even just create a mountain range, in the next five years, but he or she may change jobs, quite possibly more than once. There’s a core of survey respondents, 10.7 percent of those surveyed, who clearly value stability and have been with their current employer for more than 15 years. Quite a few others, however, are far more nomadic.

A whopping 65 percent of survey respondents have worked for their current primary employer for five or fewer years. It’s two or fewer years for 41 percent of all respondents, and zero years (1 to 11 months) for 18.4 percent of all respondents. With that many folks just settling in, relatively speaking, it seems clear that IT professionals, probably for a variety of reasons, are prone to change jobs.

Some might argue that all of those new and relatively new arrivals are merely the vanguard of a rising generation of IT workers flooding in from colleges and high schools. Weighing rather heavily against that line of reasoning, however, is the fact that most of those who responded to the survey are not spring chickens.

A topic of concern for many in the tech industry is the general aging of the workplace population, and this year’s survey, like the last few we’ve done, bears out that trend. A sobering 41 percent of those who responded to this year’s survey are 45 or older, and 33 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44. By contrast, just 3.2 percent of respondents are younger than 25.

That’s 70 percent of today’s working professionals who were either born, coming of age, or (gulp) already in the workforce the year (1983) that then-25-year-old Michael Jackson’s music video for “Thriller” played on MTV for the first time.

Some employer-provided benefits are more highly prized than other.Speaking of timing, 21.4 percent of survey respondents worked in IT for less than a year before getting their first certification. And you don’t have to stretch that timetable very far to capture a much larger slice of the pie. A notable 43.2 percent of those surveyed earned their first certification after working in IT for between 1 year and 5 years.

As we’ve learned from past surveys, there are IT jobs at every rung of the corporate ladder. We’ve found pretty consistently, on the other hand, that the highest concentration of skilled tech professionals tends to reside at the senior specialist level.

That was the case this year as well, with 36.8 percent of all survey respondents declaring themselves senior specialists. The next largest group is the one immediately below on the standard-issue company org chart: 16.7 percent of those surveyed are specialists, followed by comparably sizeable contingents of rank-and-file employees (13.1 percent) and managers (15.1 percent).

No matter what job title accompanies the picture on their I.D. badge, there’s a pretty strong degree of confidence and satisfaction among most survey respondents. A sturdy 62 percent of those surveyed have no intention of seeking a different job in 2018. (Given the indicators discussed a few paragraphs above this one, it sounds as though at least some IT workers who are about to change jobs just don’t know it yet.)

 TABLE TALK  All IT professionals are not struck from the same mold, but there are some similarities. How do you compare?

What are some of the things Salary Survey respondents have in common?

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CertMag Staff

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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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