IT Jobs More Lucrative, but Wage Satisfaction Dips

The study found more than half of technology professionals earned higher salaries in 2014, often citing a merit raise as the reason for the increase.

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U.S. technology professionals earned an average salary of $89,450 last year, up two percent from 2013, according to IT jobs portal Dice’s annual salary survey.

Merit raises account for the boost in most cases – 61%, the study found.

But notably, 25 percent of tech pros received higher wages due to changing employers within the year. Also, several key job markets saw above-average pay increases, including Boston and Chicago up three percent year over year to $97,288 and $88,866, respectively. Dallas ($91,674) and New York ($95,586) professionals earned a two percent increase.

Washington, D.C. tech professionals received a one percent increase to $98,323 on average, making them the third-highest paid tech professionals behind Silicon Valley and Seattle.

Technical recruiters also saw a significant jump of nearly 20 percent in their salaries in 2014. On average, recruiters earned $81,966 annually compared to $69,102 in 2013, another indicator of the highly competitive tech jobs market.

"With low unemployment rates and high demand, tech professionals today hold all the cards", Shravan Goli, president of Dice, told eWEEK. "What this means for companies interested in recruiting as well as retaining top tech talent is that they have to offer competitive pay. If they don’t, tech professionals won’t hesitate to look elsewhere, and other companies who are more willing to offer attractive packages will win out."

Tech bonuses also increased in 2014, with 37 percent of tech pros reporting receipt of a bonus, up from 34 percent in 2013. The average bonus in 2014 was $9,538, up 2 percent year-over-year.

But despite the higher salaries and bonuses, satisfaction with wages declined. Just over half (52 percent) of technology professionals were satisfied with their compensation in 2014, down from 54 percent in 2013.

The survey results further revealed that satisfaction with salaries has dipped each year since 2012, when it peaked at 57 percent and salaries saw the biggest year-over-year jump of 5.3percent.

At the same time, tech pros are more confident than ever before about successfully changing employers for better pay. More than two-thirds (67 percent) said that they can find a favorable new position in the year ahead and 37 percent anticipate changing employers for better pay or better conditions.

With compensation rising, tech professionals are slightly less likely to relocate for a new job this year (30 percent) as compared to last year (28 percent).

Goli said companies unable to compete on a salary basis, must come up with creative or unique perks that set them apart from their competitors. "Recently, I have seen companies offer a variety of things like sign-on bonuses, paid vacations, car leases and onsite services as a way to lure top tech talent," Goli said. "Also, focus on the company tech culture and vision to get folks excited. In regards to flexible work schedules or longer vacation time, I think those perks aren’t optional, they are essential."