Salary Survey Extra: Do older certified IT worker earn bigger salaries?

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Older certified IT professionals definitely have more heightened earning power than their younger counterparts.It’s been repeatedly demonstrated, both anecdotally and through research, that there’s an age cutoff, however nebulously defined, after which IT workers are looked at sideways. While the bias seems especially prevalent with the technology sector itself, even IT workers who don’t work directly for tech companies are often nudged aside in favor of younger colleagues.

On the other hand, if tech veterans can hang around long enough to grow old in IT, there are a couple of levels on which they can expect to have a decided advantage over their younger counterparts. Actual work experience, over and over again, is cited as being the most compelling indicator of IT capability. The longer one works in IT, of course, the more experienced one becomes.

And as much as observers tend to crow about the rapidity of change and advancement in IT, there are vast swaths of the world’s technological underpinnings that still rely on so-called “legacy” technology. Just because blockchain, for example, is all the rage in Silicon Valley, it doesn’t necessarily follow that knowledge of older technology is functionally useless.

The real benefit of working in IT for-ever or, you know, at least for 10 or 20 years, is the far more rewarding levels of compensation that are unlocked by older certified IT workers. Tenured IT professionals, probably for most of the reasons you’d imagine — greater value on account of advanced knowledge and experience, for example — generally earn bigger salaries than their younger peers.

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 1 percent)N/A(Fewer than 1 percent)N/A
19-242.4 percent$57,7004.6 percent$19,110
25-3418 percent$81,44034.6 percent$33,560
35-4428.4 percent$102,71034.6 percent$56,540
45-5430.2 percent$115,02019.6 percent$69,550
55-6418.8 percent$109,7506.3 percent$77,990
65-742 percent$107,550(Fewer than 1 percent)N/A
75 or older(Fewer than 1 percent)N/A(Fewer than 1 percent)N/A

2020 Survey Data

As has been the case with past surveys, we didn’t hear from very many folks younger than their early twenties. And the young folks who did respond are mostly from countries outside the United States. Among U.S. respondents, there’s a definite skew toward middle age, while those in younger brackets are largely from other countries around the globe.

Both in the United States and abroad, certified IT professionals earn progressively larger annual incomes as they get older. There’s a fair degree of decline in the Unites States after one’s early 40s — though six-figure salaries are still the norm — while notable upward progress continues across the arc of an entire career elsewhere in the world.

In either case, it seems clear that certified IT professionals who are young enough to be just walking away from college, or a few years removed from high school, should expect to start in the lower echelons of salary, and move up from there.

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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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