Update: Study finds IT pay up in six areas, down elsewhere

Research firm's CEO says 'we've never seen anything like this before'

While pay for IT skills on the whole dropped last quarter, according to a study by Foote Partners, half a dozen areas saw an increase in pay despite the troubled economy.

The recent results of Foote's Foote Partners' IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index found the first overall decline since mid-2004. Foote saw a .5 percent decline in the fourth quarter of 2008, compared to the third quarter.

[Is tech in more trouble than we think? Read more about that in InfoWorld's Special Report: IT and the financial crisis.]

"It was inevitable for skills pay to start reflecting the hard times we're in," explains David Foote, co-founder and CEO of Foote Research, in the report. "But the big difference this time around is the strong counter-trending. We've never seen anything quite like this before."

That counter-trending is what Foote called "an urgent demand for talent" in six areas: management/methodology/process, database, messaging and communications skills, architecture, security, and networking skills.

"The ones that are the most important are architecture, security, and process skills," explains Bill Reynolds, a spokesman for Foote Partners.

Management/methodology/process skills pay leapt upward by 5.6 percent, while IT folks with database skills generated 2.9 percent more, and messaging and communications professionals garnered 2.9 percent more money during last year's fourth quarter.

The report also found several skills that have decreased in value during the last quarter, including application development, SAP and other enterprise application, operating systems, Web/e-commerce, and systems networking skills.

The highest paying individual skills in the same time period, meanwhile, included security tools and SAP's NetWeaver.

Foote Partners' Reynolds points out that the report tracks skills pay, rather than salaries. "Skills pay is much more dynamic than salaries and tends to move every three to six months," Reynolds says. "Salaries change over a year and don't tell you as much about what's happening in the short-term."

Foote Partners' IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index concentrates on the pay for 354 skills and certifications earned by 22,550 IT professionals in the US and Canada.