IT Salaries: Looking For Love

We asked whether you felt fairly compensated for your IT role. More than half of you said no.

In our flash poll "IT Salaries: Do You Feel The Love?" we asked whether you think you're fairly compensated for your IT role. More than half of you said no. That's 54% of 2,631 poll respondents -- a hefty number. While the online poll, which ran May 19 to June 1, isn't scientific, it's at least an indicator of how you're feeling about your work situation these days.

Of course, we can't discount the lucky 18% of you who said you're making WAY more than the work you're doing is worth, or the cheery 28% who said you're paid fairly for your IT role.

Here are the full poll results:

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So what gives with the majority of unhappy IT workers? Is dissatisfaction your default setting? Or is there something more troubling going on?

For answers, let's first turn to the 2014 InformationWeek IT Salary Survey, which polled (scientifically, I might add) more than 11,000 IT employees, ranging from the highest executive ranks to entry-level roles. According to the salary survey's results, the median annual base salary for IT staff in 2014 is $88,000, and for IT managers it's $112,000.

[Is your salary lower than the median? Is It Time To Ask For A Raise?]

Respondents to the InformationWeek Salary Survey are happier with their total compensation than those who took our flash poll: 58% of IT staffers and 63% of IT managers said they're either satisfied or very satisfied with their compensation. Nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents in both categories are neutral about their compensation -- can I get a "meh," please? -- while 18% of staffers and 13% of managers are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their pay.

So while the respondents to the InformationWeek Salary Survey skewed higher on the "meh scale" than did the respondents to our online flash poll, neither poll suggests that IT folks are exactly jumping for joy about their compensation.

Of course, you could see things the other way and say how wonderful it is that fully 46% of our flash poll respondents are satisfied with their compensation. But what fun is it to look at a glass half full?

Let's look at the bigger picture instead. Since 2000, median IT base pay tracked by InformationWeek's research team increased at compound annual growth rates of 3.4% for staffers and 3.1% for managers. In that same time period, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the consumer price index has increased anywhere from 1.6% to 3.8% per year, with the exception of 2009, when the CPI declined amid the recession.

Comparing the two sets of figures, if the Bureau of Labor inflation calculator is accurate, the cumulative rate of US inflation since 2000 is 38.2%, meaning that it generally costs consumers $1.38 today to buy something that cost $1.00 in 2000. Meantime, median IT staff salaries are now 60.0% higher than they were in 2000, rising from a median base of $55,000 that year to $88,000 in 2014. Likewise, IT manager salaries are 55.5% higher, up from $72,000 in 2000 to $112,000 in 2014. This suggests that the average IT pro is better compensated today than he or she was 14 years ago. Maybe IT salaries aren't doing so badly after all.

OK, if it isn't base pay that's displeasing some IT pros, perhaps it's the lack of perks? According to the 2014 InformationWeek Salary Survey, beyond health insurance and 401K matches, non-cash benefits are hard to come by in US IT jobs:

{Table 2}

What else am I missing? What's making so many IT workers dissatisfied? If you're among the unhappy respondents, tell us why. Maybe you're just "meh" about your salary -- and we want to know what that's about, too. And if you're flat-out thrilled with what you're earning, please provide your company's HR contact details.

Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators. Read our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue today.

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