Report: Canadian IT salaries on the way down

A report released Monday by Robert Half Technology (RHI) Inc. indicates that IT workers can expect to earn a little less cash in the upcoming year.

According to RHI’s 2003 Salary Guide for IT professionals, IT workers can expect starting salaries to fall by 2.3 per cent, compared to the 0.1 increase originally projected this time last year.

The survey also revealed that Internet and e-commerce positions, which experienced growth during the dot-com haze, could experience salary decreases of up to 7.4 per cent.

But it isn’t all bad news- for the third consecutive year, IT security-related jobs will see salaries raised by an expected 4.7 per cent and data security analysts should see the most financial gains. Starting salaries are expected to soar by 6.9 per cent.

According to Stephen Mill, regional manager at RHI in Toronto, it was quite expected that security-related positions would again command lucrative salaries for the upcoming year. “It took the market by storm earlier this year and really the training and the development of these folks hasn’t kept up with the demand and as a result they’re going to see a big increase in what they get paid,” he said.

Where there is cause for concern is in the demand for project leaders in applications development – the study found that this will remain unchanged until at least the Q3 next year, reinforcing a trend in IT that is nearly two years old: companies aren’t spending money on any new upgrades but are working with what they already have in-house. Still, Mill remained optimistic, saying that large enterprises that have remained fiscally restrained will start spending on new technologies again, which will create a demand for project leaders as a result.

Industries that are forecasting an exceptionally strong demand for IT workers next year include government services, natural resources and health care.

Some of the other key findings of the study included that systems administrators will earn between $61,500 and $85,000 annually, which represents over a three per cent gain from last year; network security administrators’ starting salaries will increase by 3.2 per cent; database administrators’ salaries will decrease by nearly three per cent; Internet and intranet administrators’ salaries will plummet by 5.3 per cent and project leaders working in application development can expect their salaries to remain the same for the upcoming year.

The report looked at companies with revenues between the $2 million to $20 million and the $200 million to $1 billion ranges. On the whole, IT workers still earn better-than-average salaries.

“The IT professionals may not want to concur with that but when you’re comparing between positions within a company [especially] when you get into things like networking, operations, Q&A development, these folks do pretty good. Top-notch technology professionals make a good living,” Mill said.

But what has changed in IT is that many in the industry are now willing to forgo fat paycheques in return for benefits like time off. Time spent on personal development is also becoming more important from a retention perspective, Mill said.