Wages Climb and Climb for Skilled Tech Workers

ERP consultants, hardware engineers and project managers take home the greatest pay, according to the Yoh Index of Technology Wages released today.

Hourly wages for highly skilled technology professionals notably increased in the first quarter of 2006, following record levels in the last quarter of 2005, according to the latest Yoh Index of Technology Wages released this morning.

Wages increased more than 4.6 percent in Q1 2006, after increasing 3.1 percent overall in the fourth quarter of 2005 when compared with the same quarter the year prior.

"Other than a minor blip in the beginning of January of this year, wages have been growing unabated for a few quarters. This quarter is up 4.6 percent compared with this quarter in 2005, and follows closely to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics findings," Jim Lanzalotto, vice president of Strategy and Marketing for Yoh, a Day & Zimmermann company, told eWeek.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 3.4 percent increase in overall wages for production or nonsupervisory workers in March, and a dip in the unemployment rate to 4.7 percent, a four and one-half year low.

ERP (enterprise resource planning) functional consultants are making the most money, averaging $81.58 per hour.

"Companies made big investments in ERP in the late 90s and now theyre trying to get the most out of these investments. They want to know how they can best leverage Oracle, Linux, PeopleSoft and SAP."

At $69.01 per hour, hardware engineers came in second, a trend Lanzalotto attributed to the surge in wireless technology.

"Its like an arms race – everyone wants the newest thing. The convergence of technology is creating a lot of new work."

Project managers came in third, with hourly wages averaging $61.46, a trend Lanzalotto connected to many traditional IT projects coming back on board, as well as maintenance and upgrades of existing systems.

Filling out the top eight technology jobs in this quarters index were hourly wages for Java developers ($59.06), embedded engineers ($55.72), database administrators ($55.42) and SAS programmers ($51.67).

Lanzalotto attributes these growing wages to demands for very specific skill sets narrowing the field.

"The supply is shrinking, and its not that there are fewer developers of software, but companies are getting more and more specific with what they need. This limits the pool of available workers. Less competition means more opportunity for higher wages," Lanzalotto said.

He cautions, however, that salaries too sizable can be detrimental.

"When prices become hyperactive, the markets come to adjust. We like to see even-keeled, steady growth. This [growth] is very strong, but not yet a problem."

The quarterly index aims to gauge supply and demand of U.S. technology talent, deriving its data from wages of some 5,000 temporary laborers hired by more than 1,000 businesses in IT, manufacturing and telecommunications. The index is used by Fortune 500 companies to determine salary scales.