Age Is Just A Number, Or Is it?

Feeling old? Apparently for some people, the IT profession makes them feel older than they are because employers are ready to put them out to pasture.
Feeling old? Apparently for some people, the IT profession makes them feel older than they are because employers are ready to put them out to pasture.A recent InformationWeek Research survey of 651 business pros over the age of 50 found that about a one-in-four feel they've been denied a promotion or job because of their age. About one-in-10 suspect they've been laid off because of their age.

Who's feeling most vulnerable? Of that group, IT generalists and help desk professionals were the most likely to see pink slips, according to our data.

Of course, the good news is that, in general, the older you get, the bigger your paycheck, when compared with younger age groups. Of IT staffers, those older than age 55 earned the most -- a median annual base pay of $78,000, while IT managers over age 55 earned median base pay of $99,000, according to our recent InformationWeek Research salary survey of 7,281 IT pros.

However, while IT pros over the age of 55 had the largest paychecks, they weren't exactly eye-popping compared with the younger crowd. Among the age 36-to-45 group, IT staffers earned a median base pay of $72,000 and IT managers earned $93,000, only a few thousand bucks less than their elders.

Still, older IT pros seem to feel their fatter paychecks make them a target for company cutbacks.

Among the age-related reasons IT pros gave for their layoffs, nearly 80% of staff and 74% of managers suspected their companies were looking for younger and cheaper talent.

Drilling down further, 32% of IT staffers and 20% of IT managers said they were victims of outsourcing, offshoring, or H-1B replacements. Eleven percent felt that their employers wanted workers who already have new skills. But only 5% of IT staffers and 9% of IT managers believed their skills had gotten stale.

The good news is that most of the laid-off workers landed new tech jobs. Only 5% changed career paths out of IT. And only 3% sought revenge by suing their employers.

Perhaps the best advice for IT pros at any age is to make sure you're always on the lookout for emerging business technology trends that will likely be critical to your employer -- and then try to learn and train for those crucial skills. Yes, I know that's probably easier said than done without a crystal ball.

Still, if you've been a victim of age-bias or have some of your own wisdom to share with fellow IT pros, I'm sure they'd be interested in hearing from you. So would I.

Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer