Senior IT Salaries Fall With Economy

For the first time in 17 years, the benchmark salary paid to senior IT executives has shrunk, showing that the same people hailed in the days of the New Economy are now being pummeled by the recession.

For the first time in 17 years, the benchmark salary paid to senior IT executives has shrunk, showing that the same people hailed in the days of the New Economy are now being pummeled by the recession.

That was one finding of the January 2002 Salary Survey released today by Janco Associates Inc., a Park City, Utah, management consultancy that focuses on IT. The survey uses data from Janco Associates compensation database for IT professionals, which contains data for 71 IT positions at about 581 large and midsize U.S. companies.

The worst off are vice presidents of information services at medium-size companies. Benchmark salaries—including salary, bonuses and benefits--paid out to obtain or retain top performers holding that title have dropped 41 percent on average over the past six months, to $159,730, down from $272,410. Others feeling the pain include vice presidents of technical services at medium-size companies, whove seen benchmark salaries drop almost 29 percent. It once took $268,784 to attract top dogs in that category—a figure thats since dropped to $190,872.

The news isnt entirely gloomy. Base salaries for senior staff—including titles such as CIO and vice president of information services—have crept up, even though total compensation, including performance bonuses, has gone down.

Janco found that reduced corporate earnings account for the reduced bonuses. And, as head count reductions have swept boardrooms, a surplus of senior IT pros has blossomed.

The events of Sept. 11 have also taken their toll, both positively and negatively. On the down side, corporations have been moving some IT and back-office operations away from high-density metropolitan areas. On the positive side, demand is high for disaster recovery and security professionals.

Large enterprises are paying 65 percent more--$115,759 is the new benchmark salary, up from $69,922--to attract or retain disaster recovery coordinators. Theyre paying 16 percent more--$69,904 on average as opposed to $59,739—in benchmark salaries to hire or retain data security administrators.

Overall, base salary increases paid to mid- and lower-level IT professionals have more than made up for cuts in senior IT executive pay. Over the past six months, the mean salary level—including all forms of compensation, such as bonuses, stock options and fringe benefits--for all IT positions has grown to $71,417 in large companies and to $66,554 in medium-size enterprises.