Study: IT skills bonus pay finally heading upward

After three years of declines in the bonuses paid to specially trained IT workers, skilled employees are likely to see bonus pay rebound this year, according to a new study by Foote Partners LLC, a New Canaan, Conn.-based IT research consultancy.

The Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index, compiled quarterly by Foote Partners, surveyed 46,000 U.S. and Canadian IT workers and found that the bonus pay for certain IT skills spiked late in 2004.

“At this time last year, the skills pay numbers were terrible,” David Foote, president of Foote Partners, said in a statement. “There were overall annual declines of six per cent to eight per cent — and an even worse two-year drop of 11 per cent to 23 per cent — respectively for the certified and non-certified tech skills tracked in our survey research. But one year later the pendulum has swung to the other side, with one-per-cent to four-per-cent increases in 2004.”

A fourth-quarter growth spike at the end of 2004 will likely contribute to the trend in the first half of 2005 and probably thereafter, he said.

Foote could not be reached for comment at press time.

The study tracks salary premiums paid by employers for certain IT job skills, ranging from HP/Compaq Accredited Systems Engineers to Lotus Certified Associate Systems Administrators and Cisco Certified Network Associates. While the bonuses are sometimes paid separately from regular salaries, in recent years the extra money has often been included in base salaries, according to the study.

Overall median average bonus pay for 62 IT skills that require certifications grew by almost four per cent in 2004, to 7.9 per cent of base pay. The 11-page study said the improvement appears to be linked to companies’ desire to retain skilled staff members amid increasing competition in the marketplace for such workers.

Foote Partners has been compiling its quarterly Hot Technical Skills and Certifications Pay Index studies for the last five years.

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