2003 Looking Bright for IT Salaries

IT salaries have stopped falling and demand is up for workers specializing in networking, data security, object programming and wireless communications, according to a new study.
IT salaries have stopped falling and demand is up for workers specializing in networking, data security, object programming and wireless communications, according to a new study.

That's good news for an industry that has been hit hard by the slumping economy and wave after wave of dramatic job cuts. According to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), U.S. companies laid off more than 500,000 IT workers in the past year. The size of the high-tech workforce dropped from 10.4 million to 9.9 million, with tech workers at IT companies much more likely to receive a pink slip than their counterparts working in non-IT companies.

And IT workers who weren't laid off saw their responsibilities multiply as fewer people were on hand to handle the increasing workload. And more work usually didn't mean more money. IT budgets were synched up tight last year, cutting out many, if not most, raises and bonuses.

With that kind of year just past, any signs of hiring and salary increases serve as a major boost to a haggard industry.

The mean salary for all IT positions in large enterprises has increased from $73,856 in January of 2002 to $78,687 this month, according to a study just out by Janco Associates Inc., a Park city, Utah-based consulting firm. In mid-sized companies, the number has gone up from $66,554 to $72,619 in the same time frame.

''Enterprises are opting to keep and hire senior experienced staff,'' says M. Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates. ''This is resulting in few openings for individuals with less than five years of experience.''

The news isn't quite so bright for CIOs.

The Janco study shows that the compensation level for CIOs is back to 1998 levels because of the lack of bonuses. In this economy, bonuses for those in the top rungs of the IT shop are the exception, not the rule, these days. Base salaries may be higher but the missing bonuses are keeping total compensation levels low.

The study also shows that IT workers focusing on security and voice/wireless communications have well positioned themselves. Where these positions were low- to mid-level positions prior to 2000, three years later they have moved up to mid- or even senior-level positions. And along with the status increase, has come an equal jump in compensation.






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