Average IT decision-maker salary hits record $141,024 in US

US tech employees lead the global pack thanks to a mix of certifications, job skills and tenure, according to a new report.

Why employers need to build workers' digital skills At the 2018 Grace Hopper Celebration, Rod Adams of PwC discussed why companies must train their employees on new technical skills.

The average annual salary for IT decision makers in the US is an impressive $141,024. Worldwide, the trend continues, with average annual salaries at $89,732—the highest yet found by Global Knowledge's yearly report. The report is the largest worldwide study of professionals in the tech community and has been conducted every year for more than a decade. 

IT professionals earned an average of $5,000 more in 2019 than in 2018, with the main reason being improved job performance, the report found. 

This increase in both salaries and performance quality indicates that more people and organizations are taking steps to progress their professional development, resulting in better performance and more compensation, according to the report. 

SEE: The driving force behind IT salaries in Global Knowledge's report (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

"With technology changing so quickly, you have to have the skills to keep catching up," said Zane Schweer, lead researcher on Global Knowledge's IT Skills and Salary report. "The people that have those knowledge skills or abilities are going to, in turn, get well compensated; businesses can't slow down because they have a skills issue." 

Global Knowledge's 2019 IT Skills and Salary Survey used the Qualtrics Insight platform to tabulate submissions. The survey was sent out via email to recipients in the Global Knowledge database and yielded 12,271 responses, with more than half (54%) from the US and Canada, and the rest from other countries around the world. 

Salaries around the world

Globally, the highest salaries in various functional areas included cloud computing ($115,889), IT architecture and design ($98,580), project management ($98,344), and cybersecurity ($97,322). The report also broke down salaries by region. 

SEE: How to become a cybersecurity pro: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

North America 

North American IT professionals earned $109,985 on average, which is 23% more than the worldwide average mentioned previously. These professionals also saw a 6% raise in salary in 2019 and 50% received bonuses, according to the report. 

US IT professionals, in particular, earned higher average salaries than those in any other region at $113,639, which is largely due to geography. While salaries along the coasts were the highest, those locations are also where the cost of living is the most expensive, the report found. 

In Canada, the average annual salary is $74,048, with the highest paying IT professionals living in Quebec and making around $77,897. 

The report also identified the following highest paying functional areas in North America: 

  1. Executive ($149,034)
  2. Cloud computing ($138,320)
  3. IT architecture and design ($126,095)
  4. Project and program management ($118,528)
  5. Cybersecurity/IT security ($117,932)
  6. DevOps ($114,332)
  7. Data, analytics and business intelligence ($110,360)
  8. IT compliance/audit ($108,214)
  9. Application development/programming ($104,098)
  10. Infrastructure, networking and telecom ($91,359)

High-paying salaries aren't reserved for IT professionals. The report included the following top 15 salaries in across industries: 

  1. System and VAR Integration ($135,204)
  2. IT Hardware ($132,483)
  3. IT Software ($132,390)
  4. Pharmaceutical, Medical, Biotech ($128,692)
  5. Media, Film, Music ($125,829)
  6. Communications, Public Relations, Advertising ($125,390)
  7. Aerospace / Defense ($118,231)
  8. IT Consulting ($117,998)
  9. Banking and Finance ($113,960)
  10. Professional Business Services ($112,335)
  11. IT-Related Services ($110,629)
  12. Retail ($110,567)
  13. Telecommunications ($108,759)
  14. Hospitality, Travel, Recreation ($108,461)
  15. Government: Military and Homeland Security ($108,224)           

Latin America 

In Latin America, IT professionals earned an average of $41,465. IT decision makers in this region make significantly more than their staff--a 44% difference. IT decision makers also saw the highest raise percentage out of all regions at 9%, while their IT staff only saw a 5% increase, the report found. 

The report identified the following highest paid functional areas for the region: 

  1. Executive ($68,253)
  2. Cloud computing ($50,480)
  3. Project and program management ($48,478)
  4. IT compliance/audit ($46,923)
  5. Cybersecurity/IT security ($42,725)
  6. IT architecture and design ($39,183)
  7. DevOps ($35,917)
  8. Data, analytics and business intelligence ($35,217)
  9. Application development/programming ($32,691)
  10. Infrastructure, networking and telecom ($32,016)

Global Knowledge's data also revealed the best salaries by industry: 

  1. Wholesale ($69,000)
  2. Government: Military and Homeland Security ($66,000)    
  3. Government: Non-defense, State, Local ($54,902)
  4. Healthcare ($51,928)
  5. Natural Resources: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing ($49,500)
  6. Professional Business Services ($48,769)
  7. System and VAR Integration ($48,247)
  8. Retail ($48,032)
  9. Manufacturing: Consumer and Industrial ($47,547)
  10. Natural Resources: Mining, Oil, Gas ($45,327)
  11. IT Software ($44,498)
  12. IT-Related Services ($43,912)
  13. IT Hardware ($43,353)
  14. Transportation or Public Utilities ($42,873)
  15. Banking and Finance ($41,643)

Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 

The average salary for IT professionals in EMEA was $70,445, with IT staff seeing a 6% raise and IT decision makers seeing a 5% raise, which was in line with the worldwide average raise percentages, the report found. 

Within Europe, Switzerland dominated the salaries with an average of $136,301. Norway had the second highest at $97,525, followed by Germany at $95,456, according to the report. 

The highest paying function areas in EMEA were executives ($101,523), cloud computing ($99,290), and IT architecture and design ($83,606), the report found. 

  1. Executive ($101,523)
  2. Cloud computing ($99,290)
  3. IT architecture and design ($83,606)
  4. Cybersecurity/IT security ($75,828)
  5. Project and program management ($70,754) 
  6. Data, analytics and business intelligence ($69,595)
  7. IT compliance/audit ($65,657)
  8. DevOps ($64,404)
  9. Application development/programming ($60,669)
  10. Infrastructure, networking and telecom ($52,517)

Here are the best salaries by industry for EMEA: 

  1. Communications, Public Relations, Advertising ($90,781)
  2. Government: Military and Homeland Security ($86,321)
  3. Natural Resources: Mining, Oil, Gas ($85,543)
  4. Natural Resources: Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing ($82,038)
  5. Healthcare ($78,815)
  6. Insurance, Real Estate, Legal ($77,925)
  7. Manufacturing: Consumer and Industrial ($77,509)
  8. Media, Film, Music ($76,025)
  9. IT Software ($75,359)
  10. Wholesale ($74,793)
  11. IT-Related Services ($74,624)
  12. Pharmaceutical, Medical, Biotech ($74,039)
  13. System and VAR Integration ($73,298)
  14. Transportation or Public Utilities ($73,149)
  15. Banking and Finance ($71,665)

Asia-Pacific  

IT professionals in the Asia-Pacific area made on average $65,738 per year. Similar to Latin America, the ratio between the salaries of IT decision-makers and IT staff is significant, at 38% difference. 

However, the raise percentages for IT decision makers and IT staff are the same, at 5%, the report found. 

The report identified the following highest paying function areas in the Asia-Pacific: 

  1. Executive ($108,794)
  2. Cloud computing ($89,209)
  3. Project and program management ($74,608) 
  4. Cybersecurity/IT security ($73,066)
  5. Data, analytics and business intelligence ($67,436)
  6. IT architecture and design ($65,589)
  7. IT compliance/audit ($57,915)
  8. Application development/programming ($55,441)
  9. Infrastructure, networking and telecom ($50,344)
  10. DevOps ($42,263)

The data also outlined the following top salaries in various industries: 

  1. Aerospace/Defense ($106,659)
  2. Government: Military and Homeland Security ($97,547)
  3. Nonprofit ($83,230)
  4. Hospitality, Travel, Recreation ($76,478)
  5. Insurance, Real Estate, Legal ($74,293)
  6. Government: Non-defense, State, Local ($74,156)
  7. System and VAR Integration ($73,791)
  8. Transportation or Public Utilities ($72,586)
  9. Pharmaceutical, Medical, Biotech ($70,791)
  10. Communications, Public Relations, Advertising ($70,750)
  11. Healthcare ($70,668)
  12. Professional Business Services ($70,271)
  13. Natural Resources: Mining, Oil, Gas ($68,956)
  14. Wholesale ($68,315)
  15. Banking and Finance ($67,652)

SEE: Why IT pros need soft skills to advance their careers (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Why salaries were higher

A commonality across all regions was that every area received some percentage of a raise. As previously stated, salaries were higher in this edition of the report than any other. This survey aimed to discover the reason behind the shift. 

Respondents said that the top factors that increased salary included their current job performance (42%), a standard company increase (39%), a promotion within the company (15%), and a cost of living increase (15%). 

A particularly interesting reason behind a pay raise was the development of new skills (9%), the report found. Those same individuals who said they developed new skills of added value reportedly earned nearly $12,000 more than last year, indicating reskilling and upskilling training sessions pay off, according to the report.

Learning and development is often overlooked or not prioritized in companies, which is harmful to both employees and companies. The majority of employees (94%) say they would stay longer at an organization if they were offered opportunities to learn and grow, LinkedIn's 2019 Workforce Learning report found.  

Upskilling and reskilling employees is particularly crucial in the era of digital transformation; as technology is constantly changing and evolving, employees need to do the same. 

By investing in strong training programs for their employees, companies will save money in the long run. Retraining current talent isn't as expensive as bringing in new talent every few years, Schweer said. 

Rather than firing and rehiring workers with every technological shift, companies should instead allocate resources toward intellectual growth and skills. And Growth Knowledge's report is evidence that the skills training does its job. 

Professional development opportunities are also crucial for retaining talent, Schweer said.

"[Employees] are frustrated with the lack of career development opportunities, and that's why they're jumping ship," Schweer said. "Organizations that are realizing this and investing in their people and prioritizing their skills are attracting better talent." 

Since reskilling is so valuable to employees, job applicants will search for companies offering these educational opportunities, ultimately making the prospective employer more appealing. 

For more, check out Impressive professional development benefits from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and more on TechRepublic.

This article was republished on January 30, 2020 with additional information.

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