Is trouble brewing in IT land?

The questions have been answered, the responses tallied, and the numbers crunched. IT World Canada’s Salary Survey 2006 for IT Professionals is now complete. Thanks for your help. We couldn’t have done it without you.

So let’s cut to the chase — what’s the going rate for a CIO these days? Well, our survey found that on average, a CIO receives base pay of $153,000, with bonuses bringing the figure up to $210,000. Pretty good by most standards. You may not be joining the same golf club as Bill Gates, but then again you won’t have to grub around the local muni with those ink-stained journalists.

More about pay packets later. But first, let’s look at some issues that may need your attention.

If your technical staff is the engine that keeps your IT shop running, then maybe it’s time you looked under the hood. Our survey suggests you may need a tune-up.

And the winners are…

Respondents to the salary survey were eligible to win one of five $200 gift certificates to Best Buy. A random draw produced the following five winners: click here

Only about four in ten of the lowest ranking IT staffers — programmers/analysts (44%) and technicians (42%) — said they were satisfied with their jobs, while about one in four (24% and 28% respectively) said they were dissatisfied. Across the full range of non-management IT staff, only about half (53%) said they were satisfied with their job, while about one in six (17%) said they were dissatisfied.

It’s probably true that you are a good deal happier with your job than your staff. In general, the higher you go on the IT ladder, the more satisfied you are. Nearly eight out of ten (77%) CIOs/CTOs said they were satisfied with their jobs, while only about one in ten (11%) were dissatisfied. That other guy couldn’t make up his mind, saying he was neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. He’s also still debating the Beta versus VHS question.

So how do you keep your staff happy and off the job market? The survey indicates that key drivers of job satisfaction vary by category of IT employee, so don’t think that the things that give you goose bumps will do the same for your non-management staff. While working for a good company, and being valued and empowered are the top job satisfaction drivers for you, with money (the full financial package) coming in a distant third, IT staff rate all of those factors roughly equally as their key satisfaction drivers. And whereas money is not one of the factors likely to make you look for a new job, it shares top billing with non-management IT staff, along with ‘value and empowerment’ issues and dissatisfaction with the job environment. So the lesson here is make sure you’re paying your people a competitive wage. If you don’t, there’s a good chance they’ll be updating their resume.

This may indeed be a good time to go the extra mile in keeping your staff happy, as respondents indicated that 43 percent of IT employees are looking for a new job in a different company or new industry. Another 10 percent are seeking new jobs in the same company. The good news is that among those looking for a new job, the majority are passive in their job search. Only 15 percent (7% of total employees) are actively looking for new jobs in different companies.

Application development (56%) tops the list of skills in demand where employers’ needs are greatest. This is followed by networking (45%), project management (42%), and Windows administration (40%).

These skills correspond to future hiring intentions and also equate to high difficulty in finding staff. For example, employers rate project managers (34%), Web services staff (34%), and application developers (29%) as tough to find, but the most difficulty is the niche hiring area (only 2% planning to hire) of RAD/extreme programming (42%).

The industry expects to be active in 2006 with close to 60% of companies expecting to hire new staff. Roughly three quarters of these companies (76%) will be looking outside their organization to meet the need.

Overall, IT professionals responsible for hiring predict a mini-boom in hiring this year, with average of growth in their IT Departments estimated at a whopping 23% (from an average of 280 employees this year to 345 employees next year). One more reason to keep your staff happy and out of the job market.

Who’s earning the big bucks

Not surprisingly, if you ply your trade in the Banking sector, you’re going to have more heft to your pay packet. The survey found that the average base salary for IT professionals in the banking industry is $83,000, and four out of five expect a bonus in 2006, driving the average expected compensation up to $98,000. At the opposite end of the scale are IT professionals in Education; their average base salary is $66,000, and fewer than one in ten (8%) expect a bonus. Then again, they have the joy of servicing those PCs so lovingly cared for by the students in Ms. Krabappel’s fourth grade class.

It also holds that IT professionals in bigger companies earn higher base salary and are more likely to be on a bonus. Average total compensation for various sized companies was found to be as follows: fewer than 100 employees/$78,000, 100-499 employees/$82,000, 500-999 employees/$89,000, 1000-5000/$94,000, over 5000/$91, and government/$83,000.

It appears that most IT professionals subscribe to the notion that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Only about one in five (18%) feel that their current benefits package offering is better than that offered by other employers. And even among those satisfied with their current package, about three in ten (29%) feel there are better offerings out in the marketplace.

Best (and worst) in class

Cosmo Kramer had the right idea when he said that he always wanted to be a banker. Respondents rated the banking sector Best in Class in a host of categories, including corporate commitment to IT, skill development, talented peers, corporate culture, effective supervision, and advancement. And though Education was the poorest paid sector for IT professionals, it does seem to have its compensations; it was ranked Best in Class for vacation/time off, job security, benefits package, and stress free environment.

We were a little surprised at the sector with the dubious distinction of nabbing the most Worst in Class ratings, as determined by our computer professionals. Yes folks, it’s none other than the Computer sector itself. It earned the wagging finger of shame in the areas of job security, annual raises, challenge of job/responsibility, and financial stability.

Salary Survey 2006 for IT Professionals targeted readers of IT World Canada’s four major publications, including CIO Canada. Conducted in late February and early March of this year, it was completed by 3,039 IT professionals at all levels, 465 of whom (15%) were CIO Canada subscribers. AMR Altitude Marketing Research Inc. assisted in the survey and compiled the results.

QuickLink: 064698

–David Carey is a veteran journalist specializing in information technology and IT management. Based in Toronto, he is editor of CIO Canada.

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