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IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights

IT salaries begin to thaw, with median pay for staffers at $90,000 and managers at $120,000.

>> Working for a big-name employer goes only so far.

This is probably the most unequivocal statement I can make from our Salary Survey: IT pros aren't impressed by your fancy company name. In our survey, prestige/reputation was rated dead last on the list of job qualities that matter, the third year in a row it came in last. Just 9% of managers and 6% of staffers put it among their top seven priorities.

This finding is important as companies chase the same scarce talent in fields such as analytics. Granted, competing on pay with a Goldman Sachs or Facebook isn't easy, so offering a competitive paycheck is step one. But employers that can bundle up competitive pay, challenging projects and recognition for work done well -- factors that rank at the top of our list -- can go toe to toe with flashier and more established companies.

>> IT career optimism is rising.

Forty-five percent of IT staffers and half of managers think IT is as promising a career as it was five years ago. Of course, when 44% of staffers and 42% of managers say it's not as promising (the rest are unsure), the overall outlook might still seem bleak. But consider that two years ago just 33% of staff and 40% of managers considered the career as promising as it was five years prior. And in 2004, just 15% of staffers and 21% of managers considered it as promising. That 2004 nadir came at the tail end of the tech recession, with offshore outsourcing wiping out jobs and the memory of dot-com bonuses still fresh enough to hurt.

Almost two-thirds of IT staffers and managers in our latest survey say they're satisfied with their jobs overall, including the pay. In 2004, less than half of staffers said they were satisfied, while 56% of managers did. About 90% IT pros say they're very secure or somewhat secure in their jobs; about 10% feel insecure.

>> Managers aren't that important in the quest to retain good people.

Conventional wisdom often holds that people leave or stay in jobs based on the quality of their direct managers. But when we asked in our survey about the top job factors that matter, only 14% of respondents said the effectiveness of an immediate supervisor is among the most important. That finding surprised us, so we went back 10 years: Our survey then found a single-digit-percentage response.

So are managers off the hook for people retention? Well, no. Managers who lose their best people for whatever reason won't succeed. Instead, the message for IT leaders is that they need to understand what matters to their staffers and pick the right fights to get their people what they need. Lobby for raises for top people, or for other one-off financial rewards if base pay is stalled. If company policies limit job flexibility, collaborate with HR to make changes. "Knowing my opinion is valued" is a top-five priority for staffers and managers, and that factor is firmly in a manager's control. "Challenge" is also highly rated -- No. 2 for managers. A talented IT pro might leave in search of more challenge and not blame it on an ineffective manager. But a great leader finds new challenges to keep that person excited and provides recognition when he or she succeeds.

>> Most managers aren't thinking strategically.

Twenty-nine percent of the IT managers in our survey cite "seeking new business opportunities" among the critical skills they need to develop. That puts it last on a list of 15 skills, and it's the same last-place ranking it has held for the past five years. No. 1 is aligning business and technology goals, at 84%, also the same perch it has held for five years. Fifty-two percent of managers cite preparing reports, which is only slightly less than the 58% given the more-strategic role of analyzing data.

Compare these findings with what we saw earlier about embedded IT -- where one-third of tech managers report to a manager outside of the IT organization at least half of the time, and half of IT managers have formal responsibility outside of IT. Don't those marketing, R&D and business development teams want their embedded IT people helping them think of new business opportunities, not just knocking out data reports they ask for? One positive finding here is that more than half of IT staffers and managers consider interacting with customers critical. For anyone looking for a spot as a highly valued, well-paid IT pro, combining a deep understanding of the customer with sharp technical skills is a strong place to start.

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goosegoose35
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goosegoose35,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/24/2014 | 2:05:07 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
you are being baddly paid my friend. I make over 50 and am just a level 2 help desk at the moment.
goosegoose35
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goosegoose35,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/24/2014 | 2:02:59 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
You have worked in the lower end markets. Boston, SO Cal, Austin, NY you will se salries higher than those averages, but also maybe your company does not pay well compared to the average?
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/29/2013 | 8:22:22 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
Why do you put "gender wage gap" in quotes? It's a gap, it's not made up. There can be any number of reasons, and we as a society can decide if those are acceptable reasons. But let's not pretend that a 20% gap among managers in the highest-paid field (securities and banking) isn't a gap.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
4/29/2013 | 8:16:41 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
It's more than 14,000 IT pros across the country. It's much more than a few responses.
sdbrannan
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sdbrannan,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2013 | 6:17:54 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
I too have been in IT for over 25+ years and have worked in markets from Dallas to Atlanta to Nashville and wonder what alternate universe they poll for these salaries. I've been a Systems Admin and Analyst for many of these years and at most was paid 76k as a Territory Manager and average 50-60k a year as a System Admin. I'm certainly not seeing the averages they show in these surveys reflected in the Job Searches (CareerBuilder,etc.).

Let's get real and do some more real world polling please!
wht
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wht,
User Rank: Strategist
4/22/2013 | 4:49:52 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
You are underpaid in every market in the US from my observations and every recent survey I have read. I work for just under $100K as an IT Dept for a financial institution, not the highest paying industry for mid and small size companies. I am on the west coast, which typically adds $10-20K to many other markets. In my case I feel I am adequately compensated, since we are not a 24/7 shop like many others, and are closed on weekends. The demands on this position are not equal to some other jobs I have held for not that much additional compensation. The benefits here are outstanding (401K, bonuses, company paid or sponsored social activities, training and education assistance), as are vacation and personal time off, so salary cannot be the sole criteria to judge the merits of each job or company. Mike, I think you might have been taken advantage of for your salary and years of service, and management probably thinks you won't leave, and don't realize how much your replacement might cost them.
pdoherty972
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pdoherty972,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2013 | 9:53:04 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
Why do everyone assume any wage gap between women and men must be the result of discrimination? Part of it can certainly be that men and women pursue different careers in some cases, which skews results. Some women seem to favor stability and work-life flexibility over high pay which skews results. Some choose professions like nursing and elementary school teacher which also skews results (since women are more highly represented in those fields than men, and these are not high-paying fields). In addition women, in general, make less because statistically-speaking, they are more likely (at a given age when compared to men of the same age) to have taken months or years out of the labor force to bear and raise children. Which again lowers their average pay through no fault or conspiracy by men or corporate America. When hiring people years of experience is a major measure used to determine compensation. In addition women may be less likely to negotiate their pay in the same way a man would, potentially earning less as a result. Same with raises and promotions. And finally, as evidence that what I say above is true, women who have children, in fact, do earn less than women who did not.

www DOT americanprogress DOT org/issues/labor/news/2012/04/16/11391/the-top-10-facts-about-the-wage-gap/

"10. Mothers earn about 7 percent less per child than childless women. For women under 35 years of age, the wage gap between mothers and women without children is greater than the gap between women and men."
442-mike
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442-mike,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2013 | 9:26:46 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
I'd like to see where these numbers come from. I have 29 years of IT experience and am the IT department manager for a multimillion dollar business in a major metropolitan area, and I make $46k, and had to fight for that! Sorry Chris, but I think you need to get out in the trenches of real IT workers, the ones who get the jobs done, and not just rely on a few survey responses sent in by bored Google employees and fat-cat government/defense contractors.
pdoherty972
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pdoherty972,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/16/2013 | 5:12:30 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
Do you have evidence that the "gender wage gap" isn't the result of the statistical fact that women (of the same age as a given man) are more likely to have been out of the job market (unemployed) due to childbirth? That is to say, when comparing a man age 45 and a woman age 45 both in the same job category, the woman is many times more likely to have been out of the job for months or perhaps years and therefore will command less of a salary due to less experience? Also contributing to the wage gap could be that women are less aggressive/proactive/(confrontational?) about pursuing initial wages and subsequent promotions or raises. Lending credence to my position above is the fact that women who have never had children get paid significantly more than those who have had children.

http://www.americanprogress.or...

"Mothers earn about 7 percent less per child than childless women. For women under 35 years of age, the wage gap between mothers and women without children is greater than the gap between women and men."

There are many factors at play here, and I dislike it when blanket statements make it sound as if there's some conspiracy at work when other factors could easily explain the differences observed.
Drew Conry-Murray
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Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2013 | 11:53:56 PM
re: IT Salary Survey 2013: 11 Career Insights
It's distressing to see the gender wage gap persist, as well as the striking imbalance in the IT workforce. I wonder if the rise of women in high-profile positions at HP, IBM, Yahoo, Facebook, etc., will help bring more women into technology fields.

Drew Conry-Murray
Editor, Network Computing
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