Average Pay Of Most CIOs Hovers Between $200,000 And $300,000

Survey says compensation is more dependent on the size of a CIO's company than where it's located.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

January 7, 2003

2 Min Read

Most CIOs earn base salaries between $200,000 and $300,000, according to a new compensation study released by executive search firm Spencer Stuart.

The study of 818 CIOs found that 80% of them receive annual pay between $200,000 and $300,000, with 56% being paid $200,000 to $250,000. The average base pay of CIOs was $257,000.

In general, the size of a CIO's paycheck is linked more to the size of his or her company, rather than where the employer is based geographically. Across the United States, salaries didn't vary significantly, although CIOs in the East and Midwest earned slightly more than those in the West, says Richard Brennen, managing director of the Chicago firm's CIO practice. That's because many technology companies and surviving dot-coms on the West Coast still tend to pay their CIOs with less cash and more stock, he says.

CIOs in the financial-services industry received the highest total compensation, averaging $459,123. The second-highest total pay goes to CIOs in the consumer-goods sector, which averaged $398,456. For a specific industry, the lowest CIO earners were in life sciences, with total pay packages of $355,497. However, a group of "other" CIOs in sectors including government, education, professional services, and nonprofits earned even less, an average of $303,212.

Because this is the first time Spencer Stuart conducted the survey, there are no comparative annual salary figures.

However, another new compensation study of about 400 CIOs by Janco Associates Inc., a management consulting firm in Park City, Utah, found that CIO pay has fallen for the second consecutive year since 1985.

Top performers in 2003 will earn total pay of about $375,000, down from about $400,000 in 2002 and $475,000 in 2001, when CIO compensation was at an all-time high, says Janco CEO Victor Janulaitis.

Most of the compensation cuts are attributed to reductions in corporate performance bonuses for top executives within the CIOs' companies. "For many CIOs, 20% to 40% of their compensation had been performance bonuses. So even though many companies have increased base pay of CIOs by about 5%, CIOs still have taken a big hit in pay because their bonuses have pretty much disappeared," Janulaitis says.

Janulaitis predicts that CIO compensation, as well as CIO hiring, will begin to creep up in the second quarter. "A lot of IT organizations have cut to the bone over the last year or two, and now they'll start rebuilding again," he says.

About 17% of the CIOs surveyed by Spencer Stuart received no bonuses, Brennen says, and the average bonus added another 31% to a CIO's total compensation.

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