ComputerWorld Canada

Survey says compensation up for Canadian IT pros

ComputerWorld Canada’s annual IT Job Market and Salary Survey results are in and overall, compensation is back to normal.

The results are fairly optimistic and show growing confidence in the economy, said John Pickett, community advocate for IT World Canada Inc.

“People are still very aware of the fact that we’ve been through a recession and the economy is still seen as shaky, but the results are better than last year,” he said.

Compensation typically increases between three and 4.5 per cent year-over-year, said Pickett. In 2009, the increase was slightly less than two per cent at $85,095.

This year, the average total compensation, which takes into account salary and cash bonuses, increased 3.12 per cent to $87,752.

But bonuses grow more than salaries

“Salaries have increased, but not as much as that portion of compensation that is represented by bonuses,” said Pickett.

While the increase overall is 3.12 per cent, salaries have increased 2.08 per cent and bonuses have increased 17.83 per cent, he said.

The average salary in 2009 was $79,443; this year, the average salary is $81,092. The average bonus in 2009 was $5,652; in 2010, the average bonus is $6,660.

“It’s a bigger increase in the bonus portion, but of course, the bonus portion is a smaller portion of the overall compensation,” he said.

Bonuses are also associated with the senior ranks, said Pickett.

“For staff-level technical people, on average, only about four per cent of their total compensation is made up of bonuses, whereas for executives and senior management, it’s more like 14 per cent,” he said.

The increased focus on bonuses also reflects a greater dependence on performance, he said.

Database workers see the biggest increases

According to the survey results, “Enterprise CIOs are the top earners in the IT executive ranks, followed by divisional CIOs and VPs of IT.” In 2010, the average salary for enterprise CIOs is $209,412.

“In management, data warehousing and e-commerce managers top the list,” states the report. On average, data warehousing managers earn $109,667 and e-commerce managers earn $107,550.

Architects are the top earners in the staff/technical category. Average salaries for systems architects are $98,908, followed by database architects at $93,403 and network architects at $92,521.

“The database people have seen the biggest increases,” said Pickett.

Non-GTA region sees the biggest drops

According to the report, “IT professionals working in the north have the highest pay and the highest year over year increase” at 4.53 per cent.

The average compensation in the Territories is $96,071, followed by the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) region at $95,270 and Alberta at $93,408.

British Columbia ranked fourth at $86,852, then Ontario (excluding the GTA) at $83,242 and Quebec at $81,427. The Prairies at $77,127 and Atlantic at $71,491 ranked last.

But Ontario (excluding the GTA) is the only region in Canada that experienced a drop in compensation, and “the drop was almost exclusively in the executive ranks,” said Pickett.

IT pros at IT companies took the biggest hits 

IT professionals working within the IT industry, such as those employed by vendors or value-added resellers, have been “the worst off” this year, said Pickett.

According to the survey, “IT professionals employed by computer-related manufacturing and service companies experienced lower than average growth in compensation.”

“They’ve been more negatively affected by the recession than other industries,” he said.

Aerospace and defense continues to remain one of the top three highest-paid industries, with average salaries of $130,632. The average salary in energy and utilities is $107,571, and in banking, the average is $103,664.

“Education and non-profit remain at the lowest end of the compensation scale,” states the survey, with averages between $75,262 and $75,534.

Satisfaction levels are higher than normal

The survey found 15.3 per cent of respondents “dissatisfied or very dissatisfied” with their jobs and 8.93 per cent feeling “insecure or very insecure.”

“I think the satisfaction level is higher than we’ve seen in the past,” said Pickett. However, 21 per cent of respondents felt “somewhat more secure” last year, he said.

10-15 years experience are least satisfied group

There are “a couple interesting little quirks in the data,” said Pickett. Respondents who have worked in the industry for 10 to 15 years are slightly more dissatisfied than the others, he said.

Pickett attributes this to the IT industry slump in 2001 and 2002. “A lot of jobs were lost and there was a lot of stagnation in people’s careers,” he said.

Those who joined the IT industry just prior to 2000 “would have felt the brunt of that because they wouldn’t have been in the industry long enough to have established their careers,” he said.

Canadians weathered the economic storm

“Salaries in the IT industry are doing reasonable well compared to the rest of the world,” said Pickett.

Overall, the Canadian economy “has tended to fair better” than other countries and “so our industries, for the most part, have also faired better,” he said.

“I think a lot of the reaction to it here was not knowing what was going to happen, rather than like in the U.S., where it was seriously depressed,” he said.

The ComputerWorld Canada survey is based on responses from 2,380 IT professionals across the country from April to May 2010. To see how your salary compares to your peers, visit our IT Salary Calculator

Follow me on Twitter @jenniferkavur.

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