If money makes your world go ’round, it’s time to get into banking. IT professionals in Canada pull the highest total compensation from the country’s financial institutions, driven by healthy year-end bonuses and performance incentives.

An industry-wide salary survey of over 2,500 IT workers, conducted by IT World Canada earlier this year, reveals that Canada’s average IT professional will earn in excess of $80,000 this year, with almost half the workforce expecting additional bonuses.

Of the 2,546 survey respondents, 48 per cent say they expect some form of bonus to be tacked onto their 2006 pay cheques, boosting total annual compensation from $81,000 in base pay to $88,000.

IT workers in the healthcare industry report the highest average base pay at $87,000, but factoring in bonus schemes makes banking the most lucrative sector. Base pay in the bank is slightly above average at $83,000, but with bonuses IT workers are pulling in $98,000 per annum.

When it comes to bonuses, banks are not only paying the highest incentives, but an overwhelming 80 per cent of IT employees say they expect to earn their bonuses this year.

By comparison, only 23 per cent of IT workers in healthcare expect to receive bonuses. Average base pay may be high, but bonuses are smaller ($8,000 to $13,000) and harder to come by. The average total compensation is $90,000.

Pay packages in the computer industry most resemble the overall norm, with base pay of $82,000 and total compensation of $91,000. Bonuses pay between $10,000 and $17,000, with 51 per cent of workers expecting to receive that bonus.

IT professionals in education take home the lowest remuneration, well below average at $66,000 and a bonus scheme that’s largely negligible.

For employees in wholesale, retail and manufacturing, the trend is more towards incentives based on profit sharing and performance. With bonuses, base pay of $73,000 (manufacturing) and $77,000 (wholesale and retail) is boosted to $80,000 and $84,000 respectively, with a higher-than-average 59 per cent of employees in both sectors expecting bonuses.

Not surprisingly, performance-based bonuses are highest among the bigger organizations like financial and government institutions. As well, the more senior the position, the bigger the bonus will be and the more likely the payout.

Average total compensation for a senior management executive is $140,000 (an enterprise CIO will earn $226,000 this year); middle IT management say they’ll earn an average $84,000, and the bulk of technical staff claim an average $71,000.

Engineers and architects are among the highest paid networking professionals. Network engineers report a total annual salary of $96,000 (up from $74,000 last year) and network architects earn $78,000 ($66,000).

The average network manager expects to take home $70,000 ($67,500) – that’s less than the average technical staffer – and a network administrator $59,000 ($52,000), also well below the median IT salary.

Systems specialists report only marginal increases (between 1,000 and $4,000) over their 2005 packages. Systems architects say they’ll earn $92,000, the average systems analyst will pull $63,000 ($78,000 for a senior analyst) and a systems administrator will take home $61,000.

Total compensation is also dependant on the size of the company within an industry sector.

With bonuses, IT professionals take home an average of $78,000 in small businesses (under 100 employees); $82,000 to $89,000 in midsize organizations; and $94,000 in large companies (more than 1,000 employees).

For IT staff, company revenue, age and education also weight in on pay packages, while for management positions it’s more a case of experience in the IT industry and tenure with the company, certification and education.

The study also found that higher pay means higher expectations of receiving a bonus. Readers wanting to find out if they’re getting paid what they’re worth can check out IT World Canada’s salary calculator at

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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