The typical U.S. business technology manager now makes $105,000 in salary and cash bonuses, the first time this professional has joined the six-figure club in the 10 years InformationWeek has done a salary survey. Median compensation for IT staffers is $78,000, with five job categories surpassing $90,000, our survey of more than 7,200 tech pros finds. Median base salaries--not just bonuses--are edging up for the first time in several years.
But there are worrisome signs. Foremost among them is a dip in median pay for those age 25 and under--precisely the people the industry is working so hard to attract and keep. And the mostly upbeat salary numbers come against a backdrop of slow U.S. IT job growth in recent years. The country employs 3.49 million IT pros of all types, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics--just 1% more people than in the heyday of 2001 and 5% more than in recession-racked 2004. So even as our salary survey paints an optimistic picture, the question is whether IT jobs will be a growth opportunity for more people or a well-paying niche for fewer, as jobs are automated or moved offshore.
Life's not easy for IT pros, so don't drop your guard. Our advice from last year's survey--that U.S. business technology pros build their careers with offshore competition as their No. 1 rival--still holds. We've created a package of how-to career advice, recognizing that at every stage tech pros must manage their careers, probably more so than most other professions given the fast-moving nature of the technology they work with and the surge of offshore competition they face.
What IT Pros Earn:
Charts From Our Salary Survey
Previously, base salaries were in lockdown mode. In 2004, 2005, and 2006, the median base for staff and managers moved about 1% a year--a net decrease considering inflation. This year, the median base pay is up 6.6% for managers and 5.7% for staffers, well above inflation.
When asked how big a raise they received, managers report a 4.2% base salary increase over the previous year, and a 5% increase in total compensation, on average. Two years ago, they reported raises a full percentage point lower: 3.2% raise in base, and 3.4% in total compensation. Staffers report a 3.6% total compensation increase this year; in 2005, they got an average 2.5% raise.
Bonuses continue to be an important part of total compensation. As a percentage of median income, bonuses are holding steady at 8% of pay for managers. In the boom days early in the decade, a whopping 18% of managers' pay came from bonuses. For staffers, bonuses are 5% of pay.
Survey respondents are feeling more confident about their jobs, and thus have higher expectations. Job stability and security are less a concern, doing innovative work is a bigger priority, and cold cash is a bigger deal than soft benefits.
More than half of managers--52%--feel "strongly secure" about their jobs, up from 40% in the layoff-prone days of 2004. Just 9% feel insecure, down from 14%. As for staffers, 42% say they're strongly secure, up from 31% in 2004, while 13% feel insecure, down from 19%.
Last year, 58% of staffers cited job stability as one of the factors that matter most, more than any other factor. This year, just 33% cite it. Chew on that a moment: A full two-thirds of IT staffers don't include job stability at all among their most important factors. For managers, the shift is just as dramatic: from 49% last year to 25% this year.
The wow factor is way up, too. This year, 28% of staff cite working with leading-edge tech as a "most important" factor in a job, up from 12% last year; 34% cite creating innovative IT solutions, up from 9% last year. More managers have caught the creative bug--40% cite creating innovative IT as a most important factor, up from 13% last year. It was almost an oddity a year ago for people to put a priority on leading-edge work.
Image Gallery: What IT Pros Earn: Charts From Our Salary Survey