Certification Magazine's 2009 Salary Survey2 | 3 |
Fifteen months ago, the world watched in horror as stock markets plummeted, debt skyrocketed, banks collapsed and the credit industry imploded, plunging the global economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression. No one knew what the next day, week or month — let alone year — had in store.
Suffice it to say, not much has changed. Though economists have pointed to early signs of recovery, we’re all still waiting with bated breath for some kind of certainty to emerge. This year’s CertMag Salary Survey received more than 40,000 responses from IT professionals in over 150 countries around the world — from Pakistan to the Philippines, from Bulgaria to Bangladesh. The good news is, despite the continued economic ambiguity, the results of our survey pointed to a few stable trends within the IT industry that could provide professionals with some direction for the coming year.
First, IT has been widely recognized as a growth industry — even in this climate — and our numbers reflected that. In 2009, the average U.S. total salary, including benefits and incentives, was a generous $96,677. That is a 9 percent gain over last year’s average of $88,640. However, this growth represents a slowdown from that of the previous year, when average total salaries jumped a dramatic 15 percent.
Also reflective of the times was the number of IT professionals who are experiencing pay cuts. About a quarter of you said you’ve either had your pay cut in the last year or expect to have your pay cut in the coming year. Fewer people reported getting incentives or bonuses this year, too — dropping from 41 percent of respondents in 2008 to 34 percent in 2009.
However, again proving the value of certification, many respondents reported receiving a raise after earning their most recent certification, with 30 percent of you saying that raise was between 10 and 20 percent. Then again, most of you (52 percent) said that raise was 5 percent or less, whereas last year the most common raise amount was 5 to 10 percent.
Also indicating the power of certification was the number of respondents who added more than two certifications to their portfolios this year. This figure jumped from 11.4 percent of respondents in 2008 to more than 30 percent in 2009, while the total number of people who earned at least one cert this year was more than 67 percent. Tellingly, a full 96 percent of respondents from the top five countries with the highest salaries said they were certified.
In the U.S., the top five highest-paying certs varied a bit this year from last year, although the general content areas stayed pretty much the same. The cert that commanded the highest salary this year was the Brocade Certified Network Engineer (BCNE, formerly FNCNE) with a whopping average total salary of $146,250. This bumped last year’s top cert, the Brocade Certified Fabric Designer (BCFD or BCSD), which had an average salary of $120,770 last year, to No. 4 this year.
Rounding out the top five highest-paying certs in 2009 were: (ISC)2 Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSP-ISSAP) with $136,060; Brocade Certified SAN Manager (BCSM) with $136,020; Brocade Certified Fabric Designer (BCFD or BCSD) with $135,600; and the (ISC)2 Information Systems Security Management Professional (CISSP-ISSMP) with $134,100.
As evidenced by these results, a general focus on network and security issues continues to be a growing trend — and lucrative career choice — within the IT industry.
The cert that connoted the lowest salary was the CIW – Certified Internet Web Professional, with an average salary of $59,290. This was followed by the Microsoft Certified Desktop Support Technician (MCDST) with $62,030; the Cisco Certified Entry Networking Technician (CCENT) with $63,420; the HP: Accredited Platform Specialist (APS) with $64,180; and Dell certification with $67,190.
This is not too surprising given that many of these certs correspond with entry-level jobs or jobs that are not particularly “hot” right now.
No doubt about it: The past year has had its ups and downs. But as the results of the 2009 CertMag Salary Survey show, there are rays of light to be seen in the IT field. And while a certain level of uncertainty remains, IT professionals can use it as an opportunity to explore the new specializations or career paths that continue to emerge as the industry develops.
– Agatha Gilmore
Identifying Today’s IT Professional: Who Are You?
Before delving into an analysis of the survey data, we first must understand who was answering the questions. Here’s a rundown.
According to survey responses, dudes continue to dominate the industry, with 90 percent of you being men. And it’s still a young person’s industry. The largest number of responses (27 percent) came from the 25 to 29 age group, followed by the 30 to 34 demographic (roughly 21 percent). The under-25 group stayed consistent with prior surveys, containing less than 12 percent of the respondents. There was a slight downturn in the older groups this year, with less than 16 percent in the 35 to 39 age range; less than 10 percent from 40 to 44 years old; 7 percent from ages 45 to 49; and just 5 percent from the 50 to 54 age group.
More than half of you have received higher education of some sort. Approximately 42 percent of you have a bachelor’s degree, and 22 percent have a master’s degree. Nearly 12 percent of you have received technical training but no degree, and nearly 10 percent have just a high school diploma.
Survey respondents are also overwhelmingly global. Respondents logged on to fill out the survey from 167 countries spanning the globe. We even had one respondent from North Korea.
Following previous Salary Survey trends, the majority of respondents live outside the United States, but the largest single group within the survey remained the U.S., with 7,130 respondents out of the 26,075 who told us where they live. That 27 percent total represents a significant drop from last year, however, when it was nearly 40 percent. The Indian contingent grew again this year, with 16.7 percent of responses — up from 14.6 percent in 2008. China was the biggest area of growth, though, with 4.2 percent of the total responses. It bumped the United Kingdom — which had 4 percent — from the third spot. Canada held steady with 4 percent, the same as last year.
Among North American respondents, the highest percentage are in California (8.5 percent), followed by Texas (7.2 percent). The number of respondents from Virginia held steady this year, with nearly 6 percent. Ontario, Canada, had 5.2 percent of responses, followed by Illinois with 4.1 percent and Florida with 4 percent.
More of you are working less regularly. About 89 percent of respondents are currently working full time, compared with 94 percent in 2008. Only 3 percent work part time, and 4 percent are unemployed, compared with 2 percent in 2008. About 4 percent are students. The majority of you — 60 percent — work an average of 40 to 50 hours per week.
Nearly 68 percent of respondents have been with their current employer for less than four years; 14.2 percent have been with that employer for less than a year, 12.1 percent for one year, 19.9 percent for two years and 14 percent for three years. Just over 10 percent have been with their current employer for more than 10 years. According to the survey, 43 percent expect to change jobs in the coming year, while 57 plan to stay put.
The size of the companies that respondents work for is all over the board, with the majority (64 percent) working for companies with fewer than 5,000 employees, but 26 percent working for companies with between 5,000 and 100,000 employees. Further, nearly 17 percent of respondents work for companies with fewer than 50 employees, while 10 percent work for companies with more than 100,000 employees.
The majority of respondents have been in the IT industry for less than 10 years — nearly 36 percent had less than five years’ experience and 28 percent had five to 10 years’ experience. Nearly 11 percent have been in IT for more than 20 years.
According to the survey, almost 93 percent of you are certified in a technical field, with many of you receiving your first certification within the last three years. Almost 20 percent of you received your first cert in 2009, 17 percent in 2008 and 12 percent in 2007.
The percentage of respondents holding three or more certs was up significantly this year to 52.1 percent, compared with 35.5 percent last year. About a quarter of you hold one certification, and 21 percent hold two.
The number of respondents who added one new certification in the past year ticked slightly downward, however, from 38 percent in 2008 to 37 percent in 2009. There was a corresponding drop in the number of respondents who did not add a cert to their portfolio this year, from 34 percent in 2008 to 33 percent in 2009. There was also a significant rise in the number of people who added more than two certifications, from 11.4 percent last year to 30.2 percent this year.
– Mike Prokopeak
Cash Is the Culprit
It’s been a rough couple years for IT professionals. While their primary concerns from 2008 haven’t changed much, they have been reordered.
This year’s Salary Survey respondents reported their top three extreme concerns are the job market, job security, and compensation and benefits. Other areas of concern include recertification or maintaining skills and employer support for certification — which, rather tellingly, both have monetary components.
Pay cuts were more popular than anyone would’ve liked in 2009, with some 14 percent of survey respondents reporting their pay had been cut in the past year, while about 12 percent expect to have their pay cut in the coming year. Ouch.
Not surprisingly, the economy also did a number on job perks. Some 41 percent of respondents got incentive compensation or a bonus in 2008, but only 34 percent of respondents indicated they received incentive compensation or a bonus in 2009, while 65 percent said they did not.
Though base salaries jumped a bit in 2009, more than 42 percent of respondents intend to change jobs in the coming year. There could be many reasons for this, from employees anticipating company downsizing to employees experiencing things on the job that would prompt them to explore other opportunities when available or when the economy rebounds.
Overwork might be another reason IT pros are eyeing the door. Despite many reduced or stagnant salaries, 59 percent of respondents work more than 40 hours per week, and more than 15 percent work in excess of 50 hours per week.
The Salary Survey did reveal some good money news, however. After receiving their most recent certification, about 36 percent of respondents received a raise, though about half reported that raise was 5 percent or less. About 15 percent said the raise was at least 10 percent; roughly the same number said it was between 15 and 20 percent; and 5 percent of respondents said they received a raise of more than 50 percent.
Judging by the survey results, it also appears that boosting one’s cache of skills via certification is a smart move no matter the market conditions, as certifications were credited with helping respondents get those pay increases. Around 47 percent said they think their most recently earned certification played a role in them getting a raise. Furthering their certification portfolios also contributed to respondents’ career progression. Roughly 1 in 5 respondents received a promotion in the first year after receiving their most recent certification.
Certifications also are credited with helping IT professionals get along better in this volatile market. More than 85 percent of respondents agree that since they’ve become certified, there is a greater demand for their skills. More than 86 percent said becoming certified has improved their problem-solving skills, and roughly the same number report that achieving certification has increased their productivity on the job. There’s nothing like a little focused study to take one’s mind off money problems and rapidly emptying cubicles.
Despite the benefits of certification, the Salary Survey results showed a lack of certification support from employers. Here again, it’s likely money is the culprit. Some 11 percent of respondents report their employers were not at all supportive of their efforts to certify or recertify their skills. Then again, about 77 percent said their employers gave them at least some support.
Outsourcing, once a huge IT career headache, continues to lose teeth year-over-year. It did not affect 63 percent of this year’s survey respondents, which represented a drop of 1 percentage point from last year. In fact, 31 percent of this year’s respondents reported they benefited from outsourcing — up 6 percentage points from last year. These perhaps unlikely beneficiaries were either retrained or repositioned within their companies.
Reskilling seems to be a popular way to combat the recession, as 37 percent of respondents have added at least one new certification in the past year, and 18 percent have added two. Further, 84 percent plan to pursue additional certifications within the next 12 months. So either there’s relief on the horizon, or IT professionals are gearing up to deal with the next wave of madness.
– Kellye Whitney
The Demographics Effect
Demographic factors such as gender, age and level of education have traditionally played a role in shaping the salary earnings of IT professionals. Sure enough, this year’s findings didn’t stray from these fundamental expectations.
Judging by the survey results, women continue to comprise a relatively small segment of the IT industry, accounting for 14.1 percent of this year’s respondents. This number represents an increase of a few percentage points from previous years, although it should be noted that this year we are only factoring in responses from our U.S.-based respondents.
Interestingly, the most prominent salary bracket for both genders — again, we’re looking at U.S. data only — was the $100,000 to $109,999 range, with 10.5 percent of males and 8.4 percent of females reporting said earnings. The $110,000 to $119,000 salary range proved to be the second most popular among respondents, with 6.4 percent of males and 6.9 percent of females figuring into this category.1 | 2 | 3 |