IT Professionals Rake In Bucks Despite Downturn

Given the slowing economy and gloomy job climate, you might think IT workers are getting hit hard in their paycheques. But the fact is that IT professionals (at least those who still have jobs) are doing remarkably well.

Overall annual growth in base pay is a healthy 9.6 per cent for the 85 IT jobs in my company’s just-released second-quarter salary and hot skills pay survey of 28,000 continuously tracked IT workers. That’s much better than the general labour market – nearly three times greater, by some estimates.

Network operations and network engineering professionals are doing the best, with increases of 15.8 per cent and 13.8 per cent, respectively, over the second quarter of last year. They’re averaging about US$94,000 in base salary, US$110,600 with bonuses. Business technologists, business applications developers and security professionals increased their base pay by about 12 per cent and are averaging from US$99,000 to US$135,000 in base salary. Clearly, the demand for top-notch specialists to build and manage key pieces of the e-business technical infrastructure continues to outrun supply, and that’s not going to change anytime soon.

Sure, the deflated dot-com balloon reversed the fortunes of workers in many Web-related jobs in the past year: Their pay grew a paltry 3.8 per cent. And several widely publicized failures with big, expensive enterprise systems development projects made companies skittish, flattening pay for data warehousing, customer relationship management and systems engineering jobs.

But how bad can things really be when nearly half of all IT managers and staffers we surveyed earn more than US$100,000 in base salary, and 70 per cent exceed that in total cash compensation?

Life remains good for many IT workers. It’s still a great career choice, despite all the layoffs. Here are a few factors driving growth in IT jobs.