Strategic CIO // Team Building & Staffing
Commentary
6/30/2014
06:00 AM
Susan Nunziata
Susan Nunziata
Commentary
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IT Salaries: Looking For Love

We asked whether you felt fairly compensated for your IT role. More than half of you said no.

In our flash poll "IT Salaries: Do You Feel The Love?" we asked whether you think you're fairly compensated for your IT role. More than half of you said no. That's 54% of 2,631 poll respondents -- a hefty number. While the online poll, which ran May 19 to June 1, isn't scientific, it's at least an indicator of how you're feeling about your work situation these days.

Of course, we can't discount the lucky 18% of you who said you're making WAY more than the work you're doing is worth, or the cheery 28% who said you're paid fairly for your IT role.

Here are the full poll results:

Table 1: Do you feel fairly compensated for your IT role?

Yes, I'm paid fairly 28.09%
No, but I doubt I can get a better position 16.50%
No, and I'm looking now for a job that pays better 24.55%
No, and I plan to ask for more money. If I donít get it, I'll start looking 12.50%
Are you kidding? I make WAY more than the work I do is worth 18.36%
Source: InformationWeek Flash Poll, May 19 to June 1, 2014; 2,631 survey takers.

So what gives with the majority of unhappy IT workers? Is dissatisfaction your default setting? Or is there something more troubling going on?

For answers, let's first turn to the 2014 InformationWeek IT Salary Survey, which polled (scientifically, I might add) more than 11,000 IT employees, ranging from the highest executive ranks to entry-level roles. According to the salary survey's results, the median annual base salary for IT staff in 2014 is $88,000, and for IT managers it's $112,000.

[Is your salary lower than the median? Is It Time To Ask For A Raise?]

Respondents to the InformationWeek Salary Survey are happier with their total compensation than those who took our flash poll: 58% of IT staffers and 63% of IT managers said they're either satisfied or very satisfied with their compensation. Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents in both categories are neutral about their compensation -- can I get a "meh," please? -- while 18% of staffers and 13% of managers are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their pay.

So while the respondents to the InformationWeek Salary Survey skewed higher on the "meh scale" than did the respondents to our online flash poll, neither poll suggests that IT folks are exactly jumping for joy about their compensation.

Of course, you could see things the other way and say how wonderful it is that fully 46% of our flash poll respondents are satisfied with their compensation. But what fun is it to look at a glass half full?

Let's look at the bigger picture instead. Since 2000, median IT base pay tracked by InformationWeek's research team increased at compound annual growth rates of 3.4% for staffers and 3.1% for managers. In that same time period, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index has increased anywhere from 1.6% to 3.8% per year, with the exception of 2009, when the CPI declined amid the recession.

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

Comparing the two sets of figures, if the Bureau of Labor inflation calculator is accurate, the cumulative rate of US inflation since 2000 is 38.2%, meaning that it generally costs consumers $1.38 today to buy something that cost $1.00 in 2000. Meantime, median IT staff salaries are now 60.0% higher than they were in 2000, rising from a median base of $55,000 that year to $88,000 in 2014. Likewise, IT manager salaries are 55.5% higher, up from $72,000 in 2000 to $112,000 in 2014. This suggests that the average IT pro is better compensated today than he or she was 14 years ago. Maybe IT salaries aren't doing so badly after all.

OK, if it isn't base pay that's displeasing some IT pros, perhaps it's the lack of perks? According to the 2014 InformationWeek Salary Survey, beyond health insurance and 401K matches, non-cash benefits are hard to come by in US IT jobs:

Table 2: Please specify the type(s) of noncash and indirect cash rewards you expect to receive in the next 12 months

 Rewards   Staff   Management 
Health insurance 81% 81%
401K match 72% 70%
Company-paid smartphone 34% 56%
Further education or training 30% 28%
Tuition reimbursement 24% 25%
Certification reimbursement 21% 20%
Stock purchase plan 15% 14%
Health club membership 12% 12%
Stock options 10% 16%
Company-paid phone, fax, cable-modem, and/or DSL lines 8% 13%
Company-paid home Internet access 8% 11%
Sabbatical or extended vacation 3% 4%
Company car or car allowance 3% 8%
Day care or day-care subsidy 3% 3%
Other 5% 5%
Note: Multiple responses allowed; base: 5,945 IT staff and 5,717 IT managers; Source: InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey, February 2014.

What else am I missing? What's making so many IT workers dissatisfied? If you're among the unhappy respondents, tell us why. Maybe you're just "meh" about your salary -- and we want to know what that's about, too. And if you're flat-out thrilled with what you're earning, please provide your company's HR contact details.

Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators. Read our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue today.

Susan Nunziata works closely with the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community. Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for ... View Full Bio
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Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:52:26 PM
Re: Re : IT Salaries: Looking For Love
@ProgMan: everybody has their own motivators, and I'm with you on the idea of not getting complacent or "settling." I do know some people though who hit their comfort zone and are perfectly content to toe the line there, and that's ok too if it works for them. What's interesting about looking at salaries is that we need to see salaries that are growing at well ahead of the rate of inflation in the U.S. because there's also our future retirements to consider. If we're not making enough to stay well ahead of the rate of inflation we'll be unable save the money needed to invest in our futures.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:48:34 PM
Re: Re : IT Salaries: Looking For Love
@H-H: How one is treated in one's workplace, what the conditions are and the corporate culture, how one's workload compares to one's colleagues--these are all important influencers of satisfaction, not just with salaary but with the job overall. Even in the best-run companies, though, I wouldn't feel necessarily that someone whose treated well shouldn't expect to see their salary incrase, and I wouldn't begrudge anyone the chance to move to another company to better their salary situation.

In fact the InformationWeek salary suvey shows that seeking higher compensation is far and away the No. 1 reason for IT staff to leave their current jobs, ranking much higher than such intangibles as personal fulfillment or the chance to do more interesting work.
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:36:02 PM
Re: Re : IT Salaries: Looking For Love
@ProgMan: Our salary survey data doesn't do that sort of correlation, though I can tell you that the median number of years at the current company for IT staffers was 7, and the median number of years for IT managers was 8. Also, 68% of IT staff and 73% of IT management have only been at 1-2 jobs in the past 10 years. So it's safe to speculate that the majority of repsondnets in the salary survey have a fair amount of tenure in their organization.

The flash poll--because it is not as scientific -- would be much harder to pintpoint, though it's a valid topic for a followup.

To your larger rhetorical question: I suppose, no, nobody every really should be thoroughly satisfied with their salary. It's human nature to always strive for more, isn't it?
Susan_Nunziata
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Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:25:00 PM
Re: Re : IT Salaries: Looking For Love
@SunitaT0: I suspected the rate of inflation to be the  main resason for salary dissatisfction. And, as you rightly point out, since our salary survey is specifically for the U.S. I only examined how those salary results compared to the U.S. rate of inflation. Our flash poll, however, was open to the entire InformationWeek audience, not just to U.S. so that could well explain the high rate of dissatisfaction. Do you feel also that non-cash benefits are hard to come by in India? I was shocked when I saw how few of our U.S. salary survey respondents were receiving any real perks beyond healthcare and 401K.
cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 3:06:40 PM
Re: sadly, this tracks all industries too
@vnewman2 If I had to guess, it would likely involve a combination of lower job security, plus wage pressures brought about by offshoring. 

Across all industries, in many cases we've lost about 10 years of wage growth through the downturn. At the same time, expenses have continued going up for folks, which has resulted in a significant increase in pressure associated with jobs.

While things have improved, on the wage front, there's still a long way to go in many respects.
grcpro
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grcpro,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 3:03:53 PM
My thoughts exactly...
While I am in the rather well-compensated end of the spectrum and not precisely dissatisfied with salary per se; the larger issue is that across industries/professions in US we are increasingly asked to do less with more. We are held accountable without adequate resources. Every project is priority one and that lack of realistic prioritization and effective leadership results in constant fire drills and finger-pointing politics. There is no consideration for work/life balance [beyond lip service], and cash is expected to compensate for being on call 24x7x365 resulting in constant stress that detracts from health, happiness and enjoyment of what little family/personal time we have. At a certain point no amount of money is worth it. Yet convrsely, we, "the lucky ones" feel imprisoned by the golden handcuffs of our compensation [pay/benefits/options] package. I know this may sound ungrateful, but the fact is compensation is not just about salary--there is a bigger picture.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Moderator
6/30/2014 | 2:18:53 PM
Re: sadly, this tracks all industries too
What else am I missing? What's making so many IT workers dissatisfied? Personally, and probably like most other people in "service" related industries, no amount of money can make up for the politics, bureacracy, and lack of respect from the people you are trying to help.
cafzali
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cafzali,
User Rank: Strategist
6/30/2014 | 1:46:00 PM
sadly, this tracks all industries too
I'd wager surveys around salaries in most any industry would uncover a similar amount of discontent. And when you look at the latest research that shows that while we've regained the jobs lost during the recession, we're still years away from regaining the lost earning power, the discontent is likely to continue. 

Sadly, there have been a relatively few years over the last 20 when, unless you had a very specialized skill, you were in the driver's seat as a job seeker or employee. 
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/30/2014 | 12:19:12 PM
Re:IT Salaries: Looking For Love
I think overseas IT salaries have hit a major low in recent times, to cope up with inflation, but hasn't been quite able to do so. Moreover, since the cost of living in the states (including the new bracket of taxes levied by the Obama government) have gone up, people are finding their 100k salary inadequate. But the eastern IT people have it far worse. They are paid a base salary that looks little when compared to the salary of the US IT people and real estate prices have gone up in these developing countries, and the salaries paid by their companies aren't enough to feel satisfied about.
sferguson10001
IW Pick
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sferguson10001,
User Rank: Moderator
6/30/2014 | 10:15:58 AM
Bonus
@Susan: Does either the salary survey or the reader poll take into account the issue of bonuses? While many people are often unhappy with their base salary, the bonus usually helps add something to the bottom line at the end of the year. Since bonuses are taxed like income, it can feel like you're short changed, but it's still additional income. 
<<   <   Page 3 / 4   >   >>
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
2014 US Salary Survey: 10 Stats
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