IT Employment

Our 2011 salary survey: IT compensation is down but not out

TechRepublic and Global Knowledge have published one of the IT industry's most comprehensive salary surveys for the fourth straight year. Read 2011's state of the union.

For the fourth straight year, TechRepublic has partnered with training provider Global Knowledge to conduct one of the largest and most comprehensive surveys of IT professionals. As always, our goal is to measure the current state of IT compensation, job satisfaction, and the development of important skills. The result is our 2011 IT Skills And Salary Report, which is available as a free PDF download for TechRepublic members (registration required).

This year's survey reflects the fact that the global economy is seeing uneven job growth and recovery, as the average salary of the 12,000 IT professionals we surveyed was $79,579 -- down 3.2% from our 2010 survey ($82,115). At the same time, most of the different types of benefits -- from PTO to health insurance to 401k -- were also down a few percentage points from 2010.

However, it's also important to keep these decreases in perspective. The average salary is still up 8% from our 2008 survey ($73,900). In terms of benefits, many of those (especially health care) took a jump in 2010, so they may just be settling down a little bit from those leaps.

There's also a lot more information in this survey beyond just the big compensation numbers (right). Some of the highlights include:

  • Salary by primary job function
  • Salary by job role
  • Salary by industry
  • Salary by region
  • Salary by certification
  • Job satisfaction stats and details
  • Stats on promotions
  • Correlation between training/certification and salary
  • Feelings about current compensation level

As you look at the data in our 2011 survey, remember that salaries vary greatly based on industry, geography, and especially the number of years on the job. Basically, that means that some of you are going to compare yourselves to the averages in this report and be disappointed. However, before you go demanding a raise from your boss, make sure you network with some other IT pros in your area to get a better idea of what the going rates are in your local market.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

21 comments
ckelley114
ckelley114

What area are these salaries coming from? I have been in IT for at least 30 years, and after getting sold, like a piece of meat, then eventually "outsourced" and having to start all over. I was still only offered 42k. Which I jumped on with both feet, after being unemployed for almost a year.

adamspivey
adamspivey

Now given, I live in Cleveland where the cost of living is lower than say New York or California but these wages are about double than what a person makes here. I've been looking at jobs for several years here and here are the wages I find. Helpdesk/Desktop/user support: $20,000 to $40,000 Senior level server admins: $30,000 to $50,000 Database admins: $35,000 to $50,000. I'm not sure what developers make but I don't see any wages even remotely close to this.

kingtj
kingtj

I'm located in a medium-size midwestern city myself, and my experience is that your typical computer support specialist or network administrator for a local school or small business gets offered somewhere in the $40-50K range, as a really rough average/guesstimate. If you're willing to work for a larger place where by necessity, you're responsible for a much larger network infrastructure, the pay increases -- but so do the "downsides". Many of these places start requiring some regular travel as part of your job, which may be a deal-breaker for some people. Others have a main location pretty far outside the city limits. (I recently saw one opening, for example, paying about $80K starting for a "senior systems administrator" - but it would have been a little over a 2 hour long drive from where I live. When you factor in wear and tear on your vehicle, the cost of gas, and all the extra time you're stuck in a commute, PLUS the fact you've gotta get up extra early each morning to get there by 8AM OR not get home each night until extra late if they let you start later? That really whittles away at the value of that $80K!) Still others hand you a cellphone and expect you to be "on call" at all times, or at least in a rotation. I don't know about everyone else, but I think a company that can yank you away from your personal/free time on-demand BETTER be paying a lot of extra money to compensate for that. They're asking you to be an insurance policy for them as well as an employee.

atuomala
atuomala

It seems to me that the size of the company a person is employed by matters. If you are managing 1500 nodes on your own, I would expect a higher salary and also a higher level of experience to go along with it. We get people coming in to the industry that can't even tell me how DNS works or even the different types of DNS records there are who expect to be paid about $60K+ when in fact they are entry level in my opinion regardless of the certs they have. I start my entry level techs who don;t have server experience around $33K, the ones with basic server knowledge and can manage Active Directory and Group Policy around $43K. The techs I have on staff that can figure out the obscure and unknown and actually know how to troubleshoot intelligently are upwards of $55 - $65K. These individuals typically also know how to program among other things as well. Any tech off the street can get hired at a company if he knows how to talk the talk, since the person hiring most likely has no idea if he is right or wrong and won't know until a professional comes in and says that there network is running horribly or is poorly managed or something unfortunate happens. To a person unknowldgeable about IT, of course that person is over valued, but at an IT company, that person is status quo and is expected to be at a certain level of intelligence. Maybe my standards are too high, but I am proud of our techs and our quality of service and knowledge. Plus they learn here and if they get better jobs because of it, then I know I was able to provide that environment for them to gain real experience.

rwatters
rwatters

Those figures look about avarage to me. I've been in IT for over 20 years now and have seen IT salaries rise and fall. One of the factors involved in obtaining those avarage figures are salaries & benefits of all responders. There were most likely a broad spectrum of IT related positions including middle and upper management that will have salaries well into the 6 figure range plus handsome bonuses. The biggest obstacle to obtaining those numbers for most individuals are the lack of specialized training with experience and equally as important not willing to relocate. Great opportunities come to those who are willing and able to pack up the kids and the dogs and move to another State or country. That's this one man's personal experience and opinion.

jstinnett
jstinnett

Ok, as an IT professional (MSCE, CCNA, A+,12 years exp) employed by a school district, I am earning 65,000 + benefits (health,dental, vision, Calpers pension), so close to 100K with all the benefits. So are these surveys including additional compensation or just the cash they are getting paid? Curious. Most people would assume I am grossly underpaid but in public employment we generally get what is considered "deferred" pay in the form of pension contributions etc. We are organized as well, so at least we have representation at the bargaining table. Although the last 5 years we have had to make a lot of concessions in order to help the district manage it's fiscal situation. I am glad to be working at all these days, and not out seeking new employment. Of course I do have to manage a somewhat large enterprise, that includes the networking infrastrcture, servers, and about 1500 client machines. All I can say is, "Automation is my best friend!" Let me add one thing, too, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area where the cost of living is sky-high and the basics like housing, transportation, food, entertainment are all significantly higher than elsewhere in the country. Most privately employed people with my experience and creds are making closer to 100k or more, so relative to my closest neighbors in IT, I *am* not paid at the average level. I have several friends working for Cisco, Genentech, Oracle, who are working in support roles and they are all earning close to 125k, but none have a pension, or union representation, when the boss says "your job is now located in Bangladesh, therefore you are no longer with us", they are gone, in to the ranks of the "self-employed consultants". The way I make ends meet is by doing a fair amount of freelance work on evenings and weekends. Not that bad if you think about it.

rdowdy
rdowdy

I know about fifteen IT professionals in my area and none of them make that much. We are talking MCSE, CCNA, server admins, one-man shops, consultants, state employees, etc. Top salary in my group is about 60K.

dmvdv
dmvdv

This information was provided by individuals, not by companies. When YOU are asked about your salary and bonus are you completely honest? These data are subject to three types of distortion (1) intentional, by individuals seeking to upwardly distort the results with the hope that their management will read the survey and get the impression that IT pay is higher than it actually is (2) more innocent "rounding up" of my salary, size of my raise, and size of my bonus --- as others have noted, the pay levels, prevalence of bonuses and size of raises reported here are much higher than validated sources of employer-provided pay data from Gartner, Mercer, and firms that are in the business of gathering and selling benchmarking data (3)people who choose to participate in surveys are different than those who do not. This survey sample is "large" but it is not representative of the broad IT talent market because it is limited to self-reported data. In fairness, I should point out that I work for one of the big HR consulting firms that is in the business of salary surveys.

Screaming_Chicken
Screaming_Chicken

CCNA types getting nearly $80K???? Wow.... Desktop Support Tech is at $60K???? LMAO! What company can pay those salaries and still stay in business???

tariq.habash
tariq.habash

I see these figure our are fare enought and reflect the reality..

mrbobyu
mrbobyu

I wonder what kind of job are included inside the IT. The annual salary average is 80k$ ~ it is quite high.

atuomala
atuomala

I own an IT consulting company and what I have found is that IT professionals that are working as a sole IT person or part of a small team for a large corporation are going to make much more than if they are working as part of a small IT provider. The benefit is working for an IT provider creates much more flexibility and room for growth than a stagnant IT department where dollars control much of the technology you are able to 'play' with. If I paid my guys the median salaries in here, I would not be able to stay afloat without dramatically increasing our hourly rates. Keep in mind that I do have higher level techs on staff, but the majority are end-user and light server support. Can anyone weigh in on whether or not they see the same thing?

Dknopp
Dknopp

in the late eighties and early nineties and I am still technical - not managment/marketing

jstinnett
jstinnett

I get a little bit of yanking now and then, but our enterprise is currently undergoing some major construction at various sites, meaning that occasionally someone uses a backhoe to tear out a backbone segment leaving a whole chunk of our network off the map. I think of problems like that as job security, that and users who are unable to navigate a Windows logon process. We are thinking about re-naming our monitoring suite, " What's Down?" :)

jstinnett
jstinnett

I agree that professional development is a central part of IT support. I have had 3 subordinates that I mentored go on to work at the same level I am. The one thing I made sure they learned: Where to find the answers for themselves, and to their cultivate their own curiousity, and stay in a constant state of improvement. If you know what's what, you can always stay employed, but as you mentioned , many just BS their way in to a job and they are not qualified to do it. Around here we have a 6 month probationary period to evaluate newbies before we get stuck with a lemon...

Get-Smart
Get-Smart

Add another: most of the people participating in the survey are probably high-priced corporate and government staffers that don't have real work to do.

jstinnett
jstinnett

Not to be picky but the correct usage of the word is "fair". The word "fare" refers to such things as paying to ride the bus or train, airplane. This brings to mind two things: 1. Not all IT have the same training and education, some of us have other degrees that give us a wider range of skills, for example, being able to communicate effectively in writing (Degrees in English or Writing) , or are trained as paralegals and so on. 2. The cost of living varies widely around the country. If I chose to live in a place where I could buy a house for 80,000 to 150,000 then it stands to reason that employers in the same area are not going to be paying in the higher ranges.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Also, geography matters a lot. I had someone in northern California tell me that these numbers are absurdly low compared to what they have to pay developers.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

The businesses that don't respect their IT personel are the same ones that don't upgrade until massive hardware failure. What ends up happening is that they will have to pay for it somewhere down the line. This could mean losing business critical data and being unable to recover. Not all industries have a large ammount of technology but for those that do it would be shortsighted not to take care of it. Basically, if your network is large enough to require a CCNA to manage it then you should have enough money to pay for it. If you can't afford it then you have a failing business on hand.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

The average is the center point between the highest paid and the lowest. Typically people either make less or more. Unless you work for the federal government where they actually pay very close to the average.

Get-Smart
Get-Smart

by one or two aberrant data points, but a difference of 50% or more indicates something is wrong about the calculations or the way the data were collected. "Average" salaries in the midwest are far lower than what this survey reports. I can believe your comment about government receiving "pay very close to the average" because the average reported by this survey is higher than one can believe.

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