After three years of uncertainty, salary freezes, and budget cutbacks, IT professionals see signs of better days ahead.
The 2004 InfoWorld Compensation Survey of 1,092 IT professionals reveals that a majority expects IT spending in their enterprise will stabilize or increase in the coming year. Fewer executives plan hiring freezes or layoffs in the coming 12 months, a marked improvement over the penny-pinching that dominated IT thinking in the past two years.
The downward slide of salaries reported in InfoWorld Compensation Surveys in mid-2002 and mid-2003 ended in this year’s survey. The average salary reported this year was $83,651, down an insignificant 0.8 percent from the $84,312 reported in mid-2003 and down 4.3 percent from $87,385 in mid-2002.
Interestingly, the survey also uncovered a growing gap between upper management and those on the lower rungs of IT. Senior IT managers’ wages reported this year averaged $117,185, up more than 6 percent from $110,458 reported in last year’s survey.
By contrast, middle management wages dropped to $80,467 in this year’s poll, down more than 4 percent from $84,075 reported last year. IT staff received an average salary of $66,547, a 7 percent decline from $71,493 in the same period last year.
At the top end of the scale, the average salary of a senior vice president of IT/IS was $136,629 this year, up from $123,429 reported in the mid-2003 survey. Average pay for a CTO this year was reported at $119,609, up from $119,436 in mid-2003. Further down the ranks, an IS manager made $72,426 this year, down from $72,725 reported in mid-2003. An average help desk support specialist made $43,133 this year, down from $46,236 in mid-2003.
Enterprises were slightly more generous with bonuses. This year’s survey shows that 54 percent of respondents reported receiving $7,645 in bonuses in the past 12 months, up from 51 percent who reported receiving an average bonus of $7,586 in last year’s survey, and 53 percent who reported receiving an average of $8,645 in the mid-2002 survey.
Overall the data hints at a warming trend, says Janet King, director of research at IDG Research Service, who organized the survey. “The data seems to show that the downward trend in salary and overall compensation is slowing,” King says. “We seem to have hit the bottom and hopefully it [compensation] will go up. The overall trend is more positive than negative.”
Indeed, what has been a flat market for skilled IT professionals now seems to be opening up. The dour economic indicators that cast a pall over IT shops are giving way to healthier economic numbers that are beginning to drive IT expenditures, many respondents say.