Tech Paychecks Grew Last Year Despite Economic Gloom

Average pay for IT professionals rose 4.6% to $78,035 in 2008, according to Dice's annual salary survey.
Despite the seemingly endless flow of bad economic news these days, it looks like techies have something to feel good about: Paychecks for technology pros grew an average of 4.6% last year, said a new report.

Average pay for IT professionals rose to $78,035 in 2008 compared with the previous year, according to the 19,444 respondents who participated in the annual online salary survey conducted from August to November by IT career site Dice.

The Dice salary survey reflects the pay increases IT professionals received throughout 2008, including earlier in the year before the economy worsened, said Tom Silver, a Dice senior VP and chief marketing officer.

It's conceivable that the next time Dice conducts its annual IT salary survey -- in the fourth quarter of 2009 -- those findings will show a slower rate of growth in pay that reflects the sour economy late last year and the dip in demand for new IT talent that began to show up at the end of 2008, he said.

As for IT pay trends in 2008, the biggest IT wage spikes were in smaller regions, including Charlotte, N.C, which saw annual salaries jump 14.7% to an average of $81,426, and also St. Louis, where wages climbed 12.5% to an average of $72,819.

Tech pay actually increased in nearly all metropolitan regions, including beleaguered Detroit, where IT salaries grew 9% to an average of $73,327 annually, despite the auto industry's dire problems. In Silicon Valley, pay rose 3.7% to an average of $97,259, while wages in New York increased 5.8% even though many of Wall Street's largest firms spent much of the year in crisis mode.

As for specific vertical industries, the banking and financial services sector saw IT pay rise an average of 5.2% to $87,257, while IT wages in the manufacturing sector climbed 6.0% to an average of $77,864. The biggest gains were in the computer hardware industry, where pay spiked 9.4% to an average of $77,387.

Of the two dozen or so cities and regions tracked by Dice, only one saw tech wages fall -- Sacramento, Calif., where pay dropped 2.7% to an average of $81,193.

When it comes to skill and job sets, nearly all those tracked by Dice also experienced wage increases, except systems developers, whose pay dipped 1.3% to an average of $87,211.

The job title of security analyst had the biggest pay hike, rising 8.4% to an average of $86,778. That was followed by software engineers, who saw the second-biggest pay increase -- 7% to an average of $90,031. The highest-paying IT job set was in IT management where pay rose 3.9% to an average $111,998.

Even though paychecks grew over the last year, IT professionals aren't exactly a carefree bunch. The survey found that for 2009, about 22% are most concerned about keeping skills up to date, while 20% are worried about job eliminations. Also, 14% are worried about lower salary increases while 12% are concerned about projects being canceled. Ten percent are nervous about increased workloads because of staff cuts.

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Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer