Strategic CIO // Team Building & Staffing
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4/14/2011
11:50 AM
Chris Murphy
Chris Murphy
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Tech Managers Make $115,000, Staff $87,000. Why Are IT Pros So Worried?

After a decade of hard knocks, IT pros earn modest raises, our annual U.S. IT Salary Survey shows, but they face plenty of uncertainty ahead.

How Promising Is Tech?

More than half of survey respondents--56% of staffers and 53% of managers--think IT isn't as promising a career as it was five years ago. That's a discouraging stat, but in 2003, the first year we asked that question, 74% of staffers thought it wasn't as promising. Today, 66% of managers and 60% of staffers are satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs overall. So when it comes time to advise their children, nieces, nephews, and friends about IT as a career choice, there are a lot of less-than-thrilled IT pros out there who will likely steer them in another direction.

Brian Siler, another of the IT pros we cited earlier, was laid off after more than 15 years at Hilton, but he's not down on his prospects. "If I just wanted a typical corporate job, I feel I could go get one," Siler says. "I think in a certain sense the economy was an excuse for this."

"This" is a startup called BandTones, which is creating services focused on mobile marketing, such as text messaging related to real estate. To supplement his bare-bones startup salary, he's doing occasional small business projects, like networking for a dentist office, developing an iPhone app for a small company, and working on a touch-screen kiosk project.

But what has him excited is the chance to build a business and broaden his skills, whether it's forecasting revenue or creating sales presentations. Working directly with his former boss, Tim Harvey, "I'm learning a lot," he says.

Looking at whether IT generally is a promising career might be the wrong approach. Better to evaluate the industry where you'll work in IT. The industry has a huge impact on salary, and having industry-specific knowledge and experience is only rising in importance.

Eight industries in our survey pay median IT staff compensation of $100,000 or more. Leading the group is the securities and investment industry, at $111,000. Eight industries also pay median IT staff comp of less than $80,000. Education pays the least, at $61,000, followed by nonprofits and state and local government. Federal IT staffers, though, do fairly well, at $98,000 median pay. Manager pay follows the same pattern.

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