According to the Help Desk Institute’s 2002 Salary Survey, salaries stayed flat for most IT professionals working on the support desk, except for the top-level managers in the survey group. Salaries for senior support managers and directors dropped 7 percent from 2001, from $82,484 to $76,805. All other salaries decreased less than 3 percent. In Canada, 2002 salaries overall increased slightly over 2001.

The institute, an industry association for help desk and support professionals, found that overall salaries showed little change from the group’s last survey in 2001. The study looked at support center salaries for seven job categories in both the United States and Canada, including:

  • Call screener
  • Tier I support
  • Tier II support
  • Tier III support, systems analyst or database analyst
  • Tier III support, desktop support analyst
  • Support manager
  • Senior support manager

Many of the 559 U.S. survey takers provide tier I support, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

The findings of this survey tell job seekers what kinds of salaries to expect from support desk jobs; managers can use the information for staff planning and justification.

Key U.S. findings
Every region, East, Central, and West, experienced a reduction in overall salaries. The West showed higher salaries across the board in 2001, but this edge almost disappeared in 2002.

Two positions showed pay increases, both in the East. Call screening salaries increased by 6 percent, and tier I support salaries increased by 15 percent from 2001.

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Entry-level salaries averaged $25,595; managers averaged $59,589.
  • 67 percent of entry-level workers earned between $21,000 and $35,000, a finding consistent with 2001’s survey.
  • 34 percent of tier II workers, who have greater technical skills, earned $46,000 to $55,000.
  • 39 percent of managers earned $51,000 to $65,000.
  • 47 percent of senior managers/directors earned $61,000 to $80,000.

Employees providing internal support generally earned more than those providing external support. For example, an internal call screener made about $32,000, and an external call screener made about $25,000. This difference showed up in all job categories.

Experience and education
The average number of years of technical experience overall is greater in smaller companies. This appears to be the result of a larger scope of technical responsibility in smaller companies, according to the study. In contrast, larger companies employ individuals who specialize in certain technical support functions.

As would be expected, support techs with higher levels of education earn higher salaries. Techs with technical school degrees did not earn as much as those with two- or four-year college degrees. Also, help desks supporting more customers continue to compensate with higher salaries at most levels.

Bonuses and salary increases
Interestingly, the statistics on bonuses remained the same from 2001. In 2001 and 2002, some 44 percent of survey takers reported that both managers and staff members received bonus compensation. In both years, 35 percent reported that neither group received bonuses.

Although the survey showed little pressure for raises, customer service skills remained the most important factor in determining salary increases for entry-level staff. Specific technical knowledge is most important for tier II and III staff. Management/leadership skills, quality of work, and customer service skills are most important for managers and directors.

The HDI 2002 Salary Survey is available for purchase on the institute’s Web site.

Did your 2003 budget include merit increases?

We are interested in what your budget looks like for this year. Did support managers include money in the 2003 budget for raises? Are support techs expecting their hard work to be rewarded at some point? Tell us what’s happening at your company.