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2/14/2013
11:41 AM
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U.K. CIO Salaries Strong Despite Recession, Study Says

British IT leaders are more than holding their own when it comes to professional compensation.

British tech leaders seem to be doing pretty well in the salary stakes -- though in one important way, everyone in Britain is feeling the effects of the recession.

Official U.K. government figures released Thursday show information technology and telecommunications directors earned a median gross pay of $98,692/£63,655 last year -- up year on year by a healthy 7.7%. The average pay range of professionals in this class can scale from $58,205/£37,541 to $140,347/£90,523.

Given that the median 2012 U.K. salary for all those in paid employment is $41,048/£26,475, that's pretty good. But the £90k figure still means the best-paid tech managers score at only about the 75th out of 100th percentile for all the jobs the government tracked. Higher earners include chief executives and senior government or private sector officials ($132,193/£85,263), aircraft pilots and flight engineers ($122,130/£78,773), medical clinicians ($110,566/£71,314) and British-based marketing and sales directors ($105,859/£68,278).

[ Hiring in U.K. is strong, but the numbers don't reflect it. Read U.K. IT Employment Paradox Raises Questions. ]

But it does put senior IT staff above lawyers ($95,417/£61,543), senior police officers ($91,530/£59,036), CFOs ($86,053/£55,503), senior university staff ($77,882/£50,233) and line-of-business managers in most businesses ($74,694/£48,177).

The data comes from the U.K.'s Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. The report's methodology works like this: Researchers sample 1% of employees paid via tax taken at source (visible to the U.K. state via so-called PAYE, or Pay As You Earn) and then calculate the median gross salary for the entire country.

Since that data does not include the income of self-employed workers or employees who were not paid during the time period looked at, earnings for contractors and freelance IT workers are not part of the equation. Their income ranges widely, from financial services IT experts (who can allegedly bill the City of London up to $1500 a day) to well-paid temporary independent interim managers and pro tem CIOs.

There's a gloomy coda to all this data. The government study says U.K. wages are on a consistent slide across all professions, including the self-employed, and that U.K. workers are currently earning about the same as they were in 2002: "Median real wages in the UK have fallen since 2009 and are now at similar levels to what they were a decade ago … Full-time male employees in the private sector have seen the greatest reductions in real earnings since the 2008-09 recession."

Perhaps not quite time to pop the champagne corks, but an interesting set of comparisons for U.K. tech staff.

InformationWeek is conducting a survey on the state of database technology in the enterprise. Take our InformationWeek 2013 Database Technology Survey now. Survey ends Feb. 15.

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