IT Jobs, Salaries in Better Shape Than Most

By Sean Gallagher

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While the economy is hitting technology companies in general hard, a new report suggests that corporate IT jobs may be a bit more recession-proof. The 20th annual Computer Economics’s 2009 IT Salary Report finds that while salary growth has slowed, IT worker pay is still projected to increase on average by two percent this year. The salaries of IT executives, managers and software developers are outpacing others in the field.


"We were quite surprised," said John Longwell, research director at Computer Economics. "I expected to see at least flat growth in some areas, but we see two percent growth across the board." The report is based on a survey of IT organizations taken in the 4th quarter of the year, collecting data on current and projected salaries for 70 specific IT job titles.


Developers are projected to see the strongest wage growth, with an average 3.6% salary increase in 2009. IT Managers are projected to see a salary increase of 3.5% on average, while IT executives and directors will see a 3.4% average raise.


The increase in developer pay is likely linked to the need to improve efficiency, said Longwell. "Companies still have to maintain their applications, they are still investing in legacy application modernization initiatives. While there’s not a lot of new initiatives, they still want to squeeze more productivity out of IT. If you’re cutting staff in general, you’re trying to make that up with more efficient IT."


As far as managers and executives go, their salary increases may simply be offsetting decreases in other compensation, the report speculated. "More of their compensation is based on variable incentive pay, so their overall compensation may not be rising any faster than other workers," said Longwell. "That’s one explanation."


There was no wide gulf between the wage prospects of the fastest-growing wage earners and the rest of the field. "There’s not a lot of differentiation across different levels or functions this year," Longwell said. "That flattening is probably related to the recession. These raises probably have more to do with cost of living than performance-based annual raises."


And while the report suggests that staffing levels would remain steady from 2008 to 2009, indications are that won’t hold for long.


"Now what we’re seeing in the preliminary polling that began in the first quarter is that the mood is changing a bit, and we are going to see some reductions in staff levels," said Longwell. "It is impacting IT—how much we don’t know—but we think IT is going to be more sheltered than some areas."