Salary Survey Extra: Rising through the IT ranks as years worked increases

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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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Professionals in any career tend to advance to higher job title as they accumulate more years worked.There’s a natural career progression that workers in many different industries expect to follow. A woman or man works in a particular role for a while, sometimes across two or more different employers, then moves up to a more important role with increased responsibilities. A lucky few follow that progression all the way to the top and eventually settle in as an executive, maybe even a CEO.

Even for workers who don’t eventually get a key to the executive washroom, the expectation is that most individuals will end up working in a more important role than wherever they started out. The longer one works in a given industry, the greater the skills and knowledge that one acquires. Over time, increased ability leads naturally to increased responsibility.

We decided to consult the data from our 2019 Salary Survey. What actually happens across time as certified IT professionals continue to accumulate years worked? For this week’s post, we looked  exclusively at data for U.S. workers. Here’s what we found:

ALL U.S. WORKERS
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 11.7 percent
Specialist: 15.8 percent
Senior Specialist: 39 percent
Manager: 15.6 percent
Senior Manager: 6.4 percent
Director: 8.2 percent
Executive: 3.3 percent

U.S. WORKERS — BETWEEN 0 AND 2 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 4.9
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 47.9 percent
Specialist: 29.6 percent
Senior Specialist: 11.3 percent
Manager: 7 percent
Senior Manager: 2.8 percent
Director: 1.4 percent
Executive: [No responses]

U.S. WORKERS — BETWEEN 3 AND 5 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 9.1
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 27.5 percent
Specialist: 20.6 percent
Senior Specialist: 35.1 percent
Manager: 14.5 percent
Senior Manager: 1.5 percent
Director: 0.8 percent
Executive: [No responses]

U.S. WORKERS — BETWEEN 6 AND 8 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 7.4
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 20.6 percent
Specialist: 28 percent
Senior Specialist: 29 percent
Manager: 12.1 percent
Senior Manager: 7.5 percent
Director: 2.8 percent
Executive: [No responses]

U.S. WORKERS — BETWEEN 9 AND 11 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 9.2
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 9 percent
Specialist: 16.5 percent
Senior Specialist: 42.8 percent
Manager: 22.6 percent
Senior Manager: 3.8 percent
Director: 3.8 percent
Executive: 1.5 percent

U.S. WORKERS — BETWEEN 12 AND 14 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 6.7
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 9.3 percent
Specialist: 15.6 percent
Senior Specialist: 50 percent
Manager: 14.6 percent
Senior Manager: 6.3 percent
Director: 2.1 percent
Executive: 2.1 percent

U.S. WORKERS — BETWEEN 15 AND 17 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 9.2
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 5.2 percent
Specialist: 20.3 percent
Senior Specialist: 42.9 percent
Manager: 15.8 percent
Senior Manager: 3 percent
Director: 10.5 percent
Executive: 2.3 percent

U.S. WORKERS — BETWEEN 18 AND 20 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 15.5
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 8.5 percent
Specialist: 9.4 percent
Senior Specialist: 49.4 percent
Manager: 16.6 percent
Senior Manager: 5.8 percent
Director: 9 percent
Executive: 1.3 percent

U.S. WORKERS — MORE THAN 20 YEARS WORKED IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)
Percentage of All U.S. Respondents with This Many Years Worked: 38
Role / Percentage of Respondents Who Work in this Role
Employee: 5.3 percent
Specialist: 8.4 percent
Senior Specialist: 41 percent
Manager: 15.6 percent
Senior Manager: 9.5 percent
Director: 13.4 percent
Executive: 6.8 percent

One of the first things to jump out is not at all surprising: We didn’t hear from a single individual with fewer than 9 years of professional experience who works in an executive role. Obviously it takes time for a worker who enters the industry at the bottom of the org chart to be seasoned up into an executive leadership role.

Some workers enter at positions of greater responsibility than mere rank-and-file employee, however, and even taking that into account, we still didn’t find any executives who have worked in the industry for fewer than 9 years. And among workers with two or fewer years worked in IT, nearly half (47.9 percent) are at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder: (just) employee.

It doesn’t take long, on the other hand, for a strong degree of upward mobility to take hold. Among workers with between 3 and 5 total years worked,  an impressive chunk of employees and specialists have graduated up to the senior specialist and manager tiers.

There’s strong evidence that career advancement, for many certified professionals, more or less plateaus when you get to the senior specialist tier. By the time total years worked gets up to between 9 and 11, more than 40 percent of respondents are senior specialists, and the number of senior specialists settles in between 40 and 50 percent for the rest of the way.

Even after certified IT professionals start to appear at the executive tier, they remain few in number until the amount of years worked blows past 20. Both at that time frame and before, however, there is some opportunity for workers to climb up into the slightly less rarefied air of the director tier.

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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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