Salary Survey Extra: Income and age

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Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of both our annual Salary Survey and our smaller Salary Survey PLUS polls. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Do older workers earn better tech salaries?Age is just a number, or so they say. They also say that you should respect your elders, and it might be said by some that better pay is a sign of respect. Do we pay some workers more simply because they’re older? Maybe. If two job candidates are similarly skilled, but one is 22 and the other is 32, well, which one would you expect to draw a better starting salary?

On the other hand, age also typically corresponds more or less directly to experience, and it most certainly is the case that older workers, generally speaking, have more experience and a greater degree of institutional memory than their younger counterparts. So there are also purely practical reasons to pay older workers more than younger ones.

Around these parts, of course, whenever we get to thinking about these sorts of questions, we generally turn to the Salary Survey. This week, we’re dipping back into the annual Salary Survey, from the end of 2016, to find out whether certified IT professionals, generally speaking, tend to earn more as they get older.

Probably for most of the reasons you’d imagine, the answer is “Yes,” though of course the salary arrow doesn’t point upward indefinitely. Let’s look at the data:

AgePercentage of Respondents in this Age Bracket (U.S.)Average Annual Salary (U.S.)Percentage of Respondents in this Age Bracket (Non-U.S.)Average Annual Salary (Non-U.S.)
18 or younger(Fewer than 2 percent)N/A(Fewer than 2 percent)N/A
19-242.3 percent$35,8504.5 percent$21,270
25-3413 percent$75,24037.9 percent$37,740
35-4427.1 percent$109,27032.3 percent$71,740
45-5433 percent$118,67016.5 percent$84,880
55-6420.6 percent$120,6805.5 percent$92,190
65-743 percent$109,370(Fewer than 2 percent)N/A
75 or older(Fewer than 2 percent)N/A(Fewer than 2 percent)N/A

2016 Salary Data

One of the first things you’ll notice is that we don’t have many teenagers in our survey population, whether inside the United States (where roughly 65 percent of 2016 respondents reside) or elsewhere. There also aren’t many senior citizens, although we certainly heard from more of them who live in the United States than who do not.

Generally speaking, actually, the survey draws a much more distinguished (august, venerable, sage, etc.) body of recipients from the United States than from other countries. Maybe the IT workforce in America is older than elsewhere, or maybe young people in America just don’t have as much patience for surveys as elsewhere.

As in many other fields of professional endeavor, it would seem that, whether in the United States or abroad, most workers entering the workforce in their late teens or early 20s can expect to be on the bottom-most rungs of the salary ladder. There’s a notable upward surge as workers enter their 30s, and again as they progress toward their 40s.

The money really gets good after that, though our U.S. data, at least, reveals a tapering effect after the traditional retirement age of 65. In general, workers can expect to steadily increase their earning power into their 50s, and possibly even right up until the big 6-0 is in sight. Remember, younger workers, it pays (literally) to be patient and stay in the game.

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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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