Too Old To Earn Big In IT?

If you're feeling like your IT career has passed its 'sell by' date, you're not alone, according to the results of our latest flash poll.

Susan Nunziata, Editorial Director

July 7, 2014

3 Min Read

The conventional wisdom is that the best way to increase your salary is to switch companies. In our survey, 4,946 (42%) of the 11,662 respondents say they're looking for a new job this year. Of those, 72% of staffers and 70% of managers cited a pay raise as their No. 1 reason.

Of course, that's not the only way to get a fatter IT paycheck. In the InformationWeek article IT Salary: 10 Ways To Get A Raise, Mark Berger, senior technical recruiter at Steven Douglas Associates, writes that while you may be tempted to jump ship for more pay, you should consider asking for a raise first. Berger says:

Have a conversation with your manager before you make a change. Employees sometimes don't see the value in their own work and think the only way to get an increase in pay is to look elsewhere.

Is Berger onto something here? Are older employees, in particular, not doing enough to show their value to their organizations?

Based on our Salary Survey results, you have a lot to offer. Not only do the respondents to our survey have a wide range of IT experience, more than half also have worked in non-IT related roles. About one fifth of IT staffers (21%) and IT managers (22%) have worked in sales and marketing. Nearly as many IT staffers (19%) and managers (22%) have worked in operations, supply chain, or manufacturing. Another 18% of IT staffers and 14% of IT managers have worked in non-IT support area, while 11% of staffers and 14% of managers have worked in non-IT finance roles.

Salary plateaus notwithstanding, the value of experience could be reflected in unemployment numbers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From May 2013 to May 2014, the average US unemployment rate for all adults age 16 and over was 6.93%, compared with 5.33% for those age 45 to 54 and 4.96% for those age 55 and over. If we exclude those who are near college age or younger, those age 25 to 34 experienced the highest average rate of unemployment (7.1%) in that time frame. (Note: These figures don't reflect individuals in any age group who have stopped seeking employment.)

Let's not lose sight of the fact that you're bringing key skills to your organization. Our Salary Survey shows the following as the five most critical skills for IT staffers and managers:

  • Aligning business and technology goals

  • Analyzing data

  • Collaborating with internal stakeholders

  • Interacting with customers

  • Experimenting with cutting-edge technology

Those are high-value skills in any organization. Are they valued in yours? If your career has stalled, perhaps it has to do with how you're conducting yourself within your organization. Are you spending time getting to know your colleagues in other business departments? Our Salary Survey shows that an alarming 43% of IT staffers and 27% of IT managers don't spend time with peers in a business unit outside of IT. And for 20% of IT staffers and 33% of IT managers, spending time with peers in other units applies to less than half of their jobs. Only 30% of IT staffers and 40% of IT managers say 50% or more of their job involves spending time with colleagues in other business units.

Maybe it's time you invited a few non-IT colleagues out to lunch?

If this sounds like I'm blaming the victim, that's not my intention. Ageism is ugly, and it's part of many corporate cultures. If your experiences at your organization fit the EEOC definitions, I encourage you to seek professional advice.

If you're experiencing a career situation that falls into the multitude of shady areas not defined by law, then let's talk about it. What causes you to think you're a victim of ageism? Do you think you've been underpaid, unemployed, or underemployed ever since you reached a particular age range? How proactive are you about displaying your value to your organization? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

About the Author(s)

Susan Nunziata

Editorial Director

Susan Nunziata leads the site's content team and contributors to guide topics, direct strategies, and pursue new ideas, all in the interest of sharing practicable insights with our community.
Nunziata was most recently Director of Editorial for, a UBM Tech community. Prior to joining UBM Tech, Nunziata was Editorial Director for the Ziff Davis Enterprise portfolio of Websites, which includes eWEEK, Baseline, and CIO Insight. From 2010-2012, she also served as Editor in Chief of CIO Insight. Prior to joining Ziff Davis Enterprise, she served as Editor in Chief of Mobile Enterprise from 2007 to 2010. A frequent public speaker, Nunziata has entertained audiences with compelling topics such as "Enterprise Mobility" and "The Multigenerational Workforce." She even managed to snag invitations to speak at the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium – not once, but twice (and those folks are smart). In a past life, she worked as a lead editor for entertainment and marketing publications, including Billboard, Music Business International, and Entertainment Marketing Letter.A native New Yorker, in August 2011 Nunziata inexplicably picked up stakes and relocated to the only place in the country with a higher cost of living: The San Francisco Bay Area. A telecommuter, her office mates are two dogs and two extremely well fed cats. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from St. John's University in Jamaica, N.Y. (and she doesn't even watch basketball).

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