The Highest Paid Tech Jobs (2009 Update)

Tech workers are making more money than ever before, and some IT pros are truly bringing home the bacon.

Update: IT Salary Survey, January 2009 (gives comparative numbers between '08 and '09.)

If recent salary figures are any indication, tech workers are whistling a happy tune. The Yoh Index of Technology Wages indicates that wages are the highest they've been since Yoh began monitoring in 2001.

According to Yoh, which tracks the pay of thousands of staffers on short- and long-term projects, the average hourly wage for technology worker in Q1 2007 was $31.80. (This works out to a yearly income of about $63,000, given that annual income can be calculated by doubling your hourly rate and adding three zeros.)

This average rate, of course, is modest compared to the pay earned by those workers in greatest demand nationwide. Yoh reports that IT experts earned the following hourly rates in 2007’s first quarter:

• .NET Developer: $53.40

• Database Administrator: $59.80

• ETL Developer: $66.52

• Hardware Engineer: $75.68

• Java Developer: $57.27

• Project Manager: $60.73

• SAP Functional Consultant: $76.67

• Technical Consultant: $83.72

A Humming Job Engine

The robust pay levels listed above are the product of steady growth over the last few years. As expanding businesses have gobbled up IT workers, available tech pros have become comparatively scarce. Pay has levitated accordingly.

So despite all the gloomy predictions about the corrosive effect of offshoring, how it will depress domestic tech wages, actual American-based IT pay levels are moving steadily upward.

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“For a couple of years we’ve had solid, steady growth in wages – a couple percent per quarter,” says Jim Lanzalotto, a VP at Yoh. Better yet from a worker’s perspective, wages have seen a steady surge from the end of the 2006 into the first quarter of 2007.

In fact, average tech wages have risen 3 to 5 percent in the first quarter of 2007 alone, Lanzalotto tells Datamation.

Hiring trends are a leading indicator for the economy, because labor costs are such a fixed cost issue that firms won’t hire unless they’re feeling optimistic. Hence, the healthy hiring trends point to a healthy economy in the near- to mid-term. Apart from some unforeseen geopolitical or cataclysmic events, “I don’t see anything getting in the way of solid growth for the next few quarters,” Lanzalotto says.

Tech Jobs: The Real Hot Ones

Some of the emerging technologies that are fueling tech job growth are Web 2.0, SaaS, and social networking. Additionally, technologies with broad industrial use, like RFID and eCTD (Electronic Common Technical Document), are creating openings.

Also driving the need for skilled workers is a desire by large companies to extract more value from their expensive infrastructure investments.

“The ongoing focus on enterprise technologies is continuing,” Lanzalotto says. The movement toward companies trying to squeeze as much as they can out of investments in SAP or Oracle or Peoplesoft is pronounced. “Companies are looking for as many ways to leverage that ERP investment that they made,” as possible. For skilled tech gurus who can extend the functionality or flexibility of enterprise-wide software apps, pay levels are superior.

They’re superior, too, for workers who are directly involved in bringing new products to market.

“What we’re really learning is that there is an ‘arms race’ around product development for companies,” he says. Firms launching new products know that these new items muse be slick and feature-rich to impress buyers in a crowded market.

Companies are hungry for expert help in this push, and are willing to open their pocketbook for it. For instance, a designer who can incorporate buzzworthy bells and whistles into the newest cell phone can command a significant paycheck.

“So those [companies] are always trying to come out with better products and faster products and cooler products and more unique products. And they’re all trying to beat the hell out of each other to get there,” Lanzalotto says. Workers who support this process are “absolutely” in demand.

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