The latest news and advice on finding and keeping a job in the IT industry.

Readers Respond: Pay for Tech Jobs Is Low

After my last post on a published report that Microsoft support jobs are showing signs of real stability, multiple readers have chimed in to talk about the level of heavy frustration they have with what those jobs pay these days -- much less than they expected. One reader went so far as to say that he now thinks that IT workers might think about unionizing to help keep the level of salary satisfactory and protected.

Here's what reader Tom K had to say (verbatim):

"The problem is that even if these jobs are expanding, they want people to work for 35k a year or less. I have been in support for over 15 years, am MSCE, MSCE, A+, and NET+, and have managed to get 4 intervues this year looking for other employement. They all wanted me to take a 25% or more pay what good is expanding jobs when then do not want to pay what the job should be paying. I have never supported unions for the most part, but its getting time to really start thinking hard about it, between the lower pay being offered and the H1 Visa crap..."

Career coaches and hiring managers might tell someone like Tom K to advance his skills in new areas and hot trends in security, Web applications and business intelligence -- or learn SAP applications or Oracle databases (check out Brian Watson's article on SAP salaries and eWEEK's look at a recent DBA salary levels).

The issue is that when financial times get tough on businesses and jobs get tighter the job market goes through a period where salaries for the same skills drop. We saw it during the Internet bubble of the 1990s and it sounds like we are seeing it again. It does force some to wonder if they should get out of IT altogether.

Reader Mike agreed with Tom K and chimed in with his take on what he perceives as a major salary slide in IT:

"I don't know of any other profession that seems to be willing to accept lower salaries. Tell me, do doctors, lawyers, accountants, engineers and skilled trades all hit the marketplace saying "hire me I'll work for less money" I've worked in IT for over 20 years and in the past 3 years or so the only thing that hasn't gone up is my salary. I don't even bother to apply for most job postings because of the salary listed."

A reader with the handle IT Professional had this to say:

"I agree with Tom and Mike. On a recent interview I was challenged with the question "why should I hire you at your requested rate when the company can get three equally capable persons, who will work 24 hours a day, from a company overseas?" They told me the position offered a third of the lowest salary I requested. End of interview for me, I declined the challenge to respond and wished the company all the best. It's clear that remote connectivity over the internet offers the ability for an overseas company to provide LAN, WAN and desktop support at rates that a person in the US is unable to compete."

And, lastly, reader etjny decries the pains of commuting and salary levels together, specifically for living in the New York City/Long Island metro area:

"I'll have to agree with all the above comments. I work in NYC as an IT manager. I've been in IT for over 13 years. I live on LI and commute 4 hours a day. I have read articles that say companies in LI are having trouble getting & keeping good IT people, so there are many jobs, but from my experience, I look at the jobs, and the salaries are very low, to say the least. Even taking the $ from my commute into account, some jobs would require me to take a $20K pay cut for the same position. I would love to get rid of the commute, but it just isn't worth it. Strange how this rarely gets mentioned..."

What are you seeing for IT salaries lately? Is this limited to Microsoft support jobs or is this more widespread than that? Are the salaries in your latest job search showing the signs of weakness mentioned by these readers?

It's your turn to chime in.