Salary Cuts for IT: Read This and Weep

We'll all be broke soon if the trends continue.

Well all be broke soon if the trends continue. Inflation is up, savings are down, companies are going out of business, and now, to top it off, IT salaries are plunging for the first time—ever!

Oh, the sadness and despair. Now who is going to buy all those junky plastic and silicon gadgets that have become the status symbols of the wealthy nerds? More likely, many IT professionals will cut out certain types of food and child support to pay for their precious material goods.

Its often hard to feel sorry for IT professionals who are taking salary cuts, given that they remain at the top rung of the pay scale. But when the cuts start taking out 10 percent, 20 percent and 30 percent of take-home pay, real damage is being done.

According to Victor Janulaitis, CEO of Janco Associates, there has been an overall decrease in IT pay. Most of the impact has been at the senior IT level, with employees working at midmarket companies suffering the worst. California companies are also suffering because of the dot-com meltdown and, in part, the energy crisis.

Janulaitis survey shows that those at the vice president level within large organizations have been hit hard, and CIOs are taking it the hardest with a 37 percent cut in pay. The top rung of those in charge of consulting services also got reamed, taking a 20 percent hit.

Part of these decreases can be blamed on salary restructuring. As egos grew with the IT boom of the 1990s, more high-level companies tied the salaries of their most egotistical managers to the companys fortunes (they got options, in other words). With corporate revenue and stock value plunging, few managers are doing well.

The immediate gut-level response is to unionize. Most IT workers are on the job more than 40 hours per week, are on call 24 hours a day and are stressed beyond belief. And now, theyre getting paid less.

The other gut-level reactions are to quit, pray to get laid off so theres time to travel the world or head back to school. The world appears to be changing for the worse, but Im borderline optimistic. Its all going to get better soon. Im sure of it.