If you want to get paid the big bucks, New York City is where you want to work.
New York topped the list of cities with the highest salaries for IT managers in the US for the second year in a row, according to InformationWeek's annual IT Salary Survey. New York -- along with Washington, D.C. -- edged out San Diego ($132,000), Los Angeles ($130,000), Boston ($130,000), and San Francisco ($130,000) with an average base salary of $135,000.
It's not all good news. While salaries have remained steady over the past few years, growth is slow. And New York's high cost of living not only erodes IT managers' top pay, it also jeopardizes the city's reputation as a top tech hub, said Laura McGarrity, VP at IT recruiting firm Mondo.
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"If you want to be paid top-dollar, New York is the place to be," McGarrity said in an interview. "But with that comes an extremely high cost of living. At some point there's got to be that ceiling of people either choosing to work remotely or moving to one of the up-and-coming tech hubs."
New York is already feeling the pinch. The city slipped to No. 5 for top IT staff salaries at $102,000, below San Francisco ($120,000), Washington ($113,000), Boston ($107,000), and Baltimore ($105,000), according to our survey.
And the news is worse for New Yorkers looking for a raise. The city ranked dead last, reporting no salary increase for IT staffers since 2012, and third-to-last for IT managers with a 1.4% salary increase year-over-year.
"New York will likely become flat and less desirable than other cities that are offering remote work and other perks," McGarrity said. "Startups, especially, just can't afford office space in New York. That's why you're seeing an infusion of startups in IT markets elsewhere without high overhead and costs."
Those up-and-coming tech hubs popped up in our list of cities with the highest pay increases. Houston (2.7%), Chicago (2.6%), Dallas (2.5%), and Seattle (2.4%) topped the list for IT managers in the US, while Philadelphia (2%), St. Louis (1.8%), Seattle (1.8%), and Minneapolis (1.8%) filled the top slots for IT staffers, according to our research.
For IT professionals, pay is important: Staffers and managers cite pay as their No. 1 (48%) and No. 2 (46%) motivators, our report found. But it's important not to lose sight of other factors that can drive salaries up -- including skills -- McGarrity said. Just 15% of managers include skill development on their priority list, while slightly more staffers (23%) prioritize it higher.
"Skill sets in a city like New York are changing rapidly," she said. "What's hot now might not be hot two years from now. It's a constant challenge to consistently stay ahead of that curve."
While New York may struggle to compete with other top tech hubs in years ahead, McGarrity said IT professionals should shift their focus to companies with high growth potential and consider remote working arrangements.
"Being in a company that's innovating is far more beneficial to your career in terms of growth. Smaller companies are more agile and growing more rapidly, but you won't find many of those in New York," she said. "Brush up on your skill set and insert yourself in to a high-growth company. Make sure you consider all your options."
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