Tech Managers Make $115,000, Staff $87,000. Why Are IT Pros So Worried? - InformationWeek
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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.

Keeping Your Talent

IT pros aren't job hoppers, for the most part. Two-thirds of staffers have had just one or two employers over the past 10 years. Given that a lot of people, like Morgan and Siler, had to switch jobs because of layoffs, that's a very high number. Among managers, 72% have had only one or two employers in that time. Consider those stats alongside the high priority many IT pros put on job stability, and there's a lesson for technology leaders: Even your top talent probably wants to stay, as long as you don't mess things up. Keep base pay reasonable, let your people know their work's important, make things challenging, and you're well on the way.

As for those high performers you do lose, what are the biggest reasons? Higher pay is overwhelmingly the answer--cited by 70% of the more than 7,300 IT staff and managers who say they're actively or somewhat actively looking for a new job. That 7,300 number alone is worth noting: 41% say they're looking this year, compared with 34% two years ago. The job market's not great, but it's not moribund anymore. The other factors cited by those looking for a new job include more interesting work, personal fulfillment, and disenchantment with the current management and culture.

Karen Garcia is one of those long timers, having worked almost 19 years for software maker BMC. Her story, mentioned earlier, is one of promotions and new challenges. She became program management office director two years ago, then CIO Mark Settle asked her to take on a new role: IT chief of staff. "I said, 'That sounds awesome. What does it mean?'" Garcia recalls.

It meant applying nuts-and-bolts management discipline to IT, touching a range of areas including budgeting, vendor oversight, asset management, purchasing, and compliance. Garcia saw the opportunity but had some hard lessons to learn about how much change an IT organization can digest at a time. "If you think you're going to get something knocked out in a very short time, you're going to get frustrated," Garcia says. "I got frustrated."

A former programmer, Garcia thinks she has a much deeper understanding now of the business of IT, which could let her keep moving up in the management ranks, or into a non-IT role.

And that may be one of the lessons for IT pros: The best opportunities often lie at the edge of two disciplines. People like Garcia can blur business and IT skills, and those like Carr can combine big data and statistical prowess. Others will blend their deep technology and industry knowledge. There isn't now and never will be a single path to success in IT.

It has been an exhausting, stress-filled, and exciting 10-year journey for most IT pros. Don't count on the next decade being any less turbulent.

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