IT Salaries Remain Flat for Second Straight Year: Dice Survey

Companies are still holding back on salary increases for IT professionals, and many workers say they are going to switch employers to boost their salaries, according to a report from Dice.

Even as the economy recovers and companies start hiring IT workers again, the average pay for technology workers remained flat for a second year in a row, according to the results of a survey released by technology and engineering career Website Dice on Jan. 19.

The online poll of nearly 20,000 employed IT professionals nationwide found that average compensation edged up 0.7 percent, from $78,845 to $79,385, in 2010, Dice said. Salaries increased by a similar amount in 2009, Dice said.

However, there was room for optimism in the salary survey. Nearly half, or 49 percent, of the respondents said they received a salary increase in 2010, compared with only 36 percent who received a raise in 2009, Dice said. Additionally, 29 percent of the respondents received a bonus in 2010, compared with 24 percent in 2009, according to the survey.

"Companies can no longer get away with paltry salary increases for their technology staffs based on the demand we are seeing for talent," said Tom Silver, senior vice president of North America at Dice.

But there was some bad news for new technology professionals, with entry-level salaries being reset lower, Dice said. The average salaries for professionals with less than two years experience have declined for the second year in the row and is 6 percent less than what it was in 2008, according to the survey.

Despite wages remaining flat, about 50 percent of the surveyed IT professionals said they are either "somewhat" or "very satisfied" with their salaries, according to the survey. Only 46 percent felt that way in 2009. Despite the apparent satisfaction, a significant number of the IT professionals, about 40 percent, said they would consider switching jobs to increase their salaries, according to the survey.

Interestingly, IT workers who said they didn't think switching jobs would bring a salary increase earned an average of $13,000 more than those who felt a change would bump up their income.

"Employers that are reluctant to increase compensation or step up retention efforts will likely pay for their unsatisfactory ways," Silver said.

Some regions obviously had better salaries than others. The Silicon Valley had the highest average IT salary, at $99,028, followed by the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area, at $89,149, and New York, at $87,298. Silicon Valley workers had, along with higher average salaries, higher levels of satisfaction and were more likely to have received a bonus. The biggest jumps were in Atlanta and Philadelphia, where salaries jumped 5 percent from 2009 to 2010. The biggest decline was in Los Angeles, with salaries declining 4 percent to $84,551, the survey found.

According to the survey, professionals working for larger companies tended to earn more, as did those with highly specialized skills. Workers with experience in advanced business application programming, Informatica databases, data warehousing skills like extra/transform and load (ETL), and service-oriented architecture could earn over $100,000 a year, the survey found.

Demand for database skills remained strong, based on an analysis of the job postings on Dice. Oracle jobs accounted for nearly a quarter of all job postings on Dice, with demand up 57 percent from the previous year, Dice said. The national average salary for Oracle database professionals was $90,914, and for Oracle Application Server, $88,063, Dice said. There was also an increase in job postings looking for professionals with a SQL background, with average salaries of $84,375.

Programmers remain in high demand, although job postings for Java/J2EE outnumbered C/C++/C# postings. Java programmers on average earned $91,060, more than C programmers, who earned between $85,500 and $90,350, according to the survey.

While there aren't as many job postings for information security and cloud computing professionals on Dice, postings for those two specialties have doubled and tripled in the past few weeks, according to a separate Dice report released Jan. 10.

The survey was conducted between Aug. 31 and Nov. 15, 2010, Dice said. There was some self-selection involved in the poll, since the respondents were all part of the Dice community and were either actively looking for jobs or had used the sites to browse job listings. The survey invitation was mailed to registered Dice members and a link was placed on the Dice Website.