IT Workers Satisfied in 2009, but Most Felt Underpaid

More than two-thirds of techies felt fine with their jobs last year. However, less than half of tech workers saw raises, most want to be paid better, and certification in IT and business help raise salaries.

It is still mostly about the money for information technology workers, according to a 2010 skills and salary study from Cary, N.C.-based technology-training provider Global Knowledge, but it is not everything when it comes to job satisfaction.

Global Knowledge, in partnership with TechRepublic, surveyed more than 19,500 technology workers and captured over 90 percent of respondents from individuals working in the United States and Canada, making it one of the largest annual studies on skills and salary specific to IT.

IT job satisfaction in 2009 was 70 percent, with more than 40 percent reporting they were "extremely" or "very" satisfied with their jobs. Considering the year that was the Great Recession, these numbers speak to a technology work base that learned to accept where things were and adapted accordingly. Having a competitive salary does make 88 percent of workers feel satisfied, but take a close look at the softer attributes contributing to job satisfaction: 82 percent want to be recognized for work performed; 78 percent expect solid work-life balancing opportunities; 80 percent expect opportunities to increase skills; 79 percent want comprehensive benefits; 74 percent expect job security; and 51 percent want opportunities for promotions.

These numbers start to skew up and down depending on the number of experience years on the technology odometer. Younger workers rank opportunities to learn new skills higher (85 percent) than the 20-plus-year IT veterans (74 percent). Promotion opportunity numbers also skew upward for the five years or less set (59 percent) compared with less than 40 percent for more experienced technologists. In the gender equation, work-life balance ranks higher for women (83 percent) than men (77 percent), as does gaining new responsibilities (65 percent to 57 percent) and respect for the work performed (88 percent to 81 percent).

Dig a little deeper, and you start to see where some of the dissatisfaction resides: current salary. Only 37 percent feel they are being compensated fairly. In contrast, 57 percent feel they are underpaid.

"The average salary for respondents was $82,115, up less than 1 percent over what was reported in the 2009 IT Skills and Salary Report. This is significantly less than the 10 percent gain seen between 2008 and 2009; however, it is consistent with broader salary trends in the United States," wrote Greg Alan Timpany, senior market research manager in the study. "Less than half of this year's respondents (43%) reported receiving a salary increase, down from 70% in the prior year. Two-thirds of those that reported receiving a raise indicated the primary reason was performance in their current position (65%). Over 46% indicated their salaries were capped without a raise. One in nine respondents (11%) indicated their salaries had been reduced."

Another key aspect covered in the study is salary impact of technology and business-centric certifications. From the study:

""Overall, professionals who had earned an IT or project management certification during the last five years earned an average of $5,242 more than their counterparts ($85,628 vs. $80,386). ... However, salary is not determined solely by training or certification. Other variables have significant impact. One of those is tenure in the profession. Two-thirds of all respondents took some form of training in the last year. That percentage was consistent across tenure groups, indicating that the benefits of training are clearly visible across career stages."Does the type of training one receives make a difference? Again, the answer is 'yes.' After controlling for tenure, respondents who took only IT training had lower average salaries than their counterparts who did not take training in the prior year ($74,025 vs. $80,130). However, if the respondent also took some form of project management or business-related training ... in addition to his or her IT training, that deficit reversed ($86,021 vs. $80,130).""

To read the full study, go here (registration required).