Salary Survey 2008
By Agatha Gilmore, Mike Prokopeak, Kellye Whitney, Deanna Hartley, Lindsay Edmonds Wickman, Brian Summerfield1 | 2 | 3 |
Globally, it appears the two highest-paid age groups are at the upper end of the spectrum. The 60-64 age range comes out on top, with an average salary of $94,640, followed by the 55-59 range, with an average salary of $88,050.
What continues to be noteworthy, however, is that in accordance with the previous years’ reports, the oldest age group of respondents (65 and up) continues to experience a dramatic drop-off in average annual salary: a reported $66,830. This leads us to wonder whether the sudden decrease in figures could be attributed to possible part-time employment for these individuals, who likely are phasing into retirement. On the whole, however, average annual salary rises as you move up the age ladder.
Additionally, this year there was an increase in the gap between the group with the highest average salary and the overall average salary. It went up to approximately $36,000 from about $28,000 in 2007.
Since there’s not much people can do about their age, let’s look at something they do have some control over: education. As one might expect, the average salary is at its peak — at $74,210 — for IT professionals who have earned doctorate degrees. From the survey, it appears the possession of a doctorate generates roughly $15,490 in additional income.
Those with bachelor’s degrees come in second place for highest salaries by level of education, with $65,870. This bumps technical training from second place in 2007 to third place this year, with salary earnings of $65,340.
What’s somewhat surprising and almost ironic, though, is that respondents with master’s degrees reported earning less than those with only bachelor’s degrees or technical training. The average salary of master’s-degree holders is $63,080, coming in fourth. This could be attributed to the fact that many IT professionals hold master’s degrees in fields other than technology, which could be less relevant to their job roles and contribute less to their salary levels.
Next on the list comes those with two-year associate’s degrees, who registered an average salary of $62,720 this year. Those with high school diplomas earned an average salary of $56,460, and those in school reported an average income of $46,490 — trailing behind those with two-year associate’s degrees by more than $16,000.
The survey also measured factors such as the correlation between the amount of time spent at a particular organization and average annual salary. This year’s figures were erratic, unlike last year’s, which peaked and dipped based on 10-year intervals. Within the 2008 respondents, the highest reported salaries based on time in the organization are in the ninth year with $88,890 and fifth year with $87,170.
– Deanna Hartley, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cost of Certification: Is It Worth It?
Who’s paying your way when it comes to certifications? Luckily for many of you, it’s your employers. According to the Salary Survey, 48.3 percent of your employers paid for your most recent certification.
About 34.4 percent of you weren’t as lucky and had to dig into your own pockets, but overall, the percentage of respondents picking up the tab has decreased and the percentage of employers paying the bill has increased since 2007.
The next highest percentage of respondents, 9.3 percent, said they were reimbursed by their employers, followed by 6.1 percent who said they shared the cost of the certification with their employers. Nearly 5 percent of respondents had a vendor/voucher; 1.3 percent had a friend or relative pay; 1.1 percent had a government/GI Bill source; 0.6 percent had a scholarship; and 0.4 percent had a grant. Another 1.1 percent cited other sources.
In preparing for certification, 19.1 percent of respondents spent between $100 and $199 on materials. But some respondents either borrowed study materials from others or went it alone, as 17.6 percent spent no money at all. Next, 14 percent spent between $50 and $99, 10.7 percent spent between $200 and $299, and 10.4 percent spent $49 or less (see Fig. 5).
In the United States, 70.7 percent of the respondents spent less than $300, 81.6 percent spent less than $500, and 90.1 percent spent less than $1,000 on materials. On average, U.S. respondents spent $484 on materials.
When it came to seminars and training, the majority of the participants, 41.3 percent, spent nothing. The next highest percentage, 9.5 percent, spent between $1,000 and $1,999. And 9.2 percent spent between $2,000 and $2,999 (see Fig. 6).
But even though almost half of the respondents spent nothing on seminars and training, spending on these endeavors has increased on average in the United States, as the mean dollars spent rose from $1,272 last year to $1,450 this year, a 14 percent increase.
When studying for the exam, respondents found that self-study books (72 percent), practice exams (69.9 percent) and on-the-job training (66.8 percent) were extremely valuable or very valuable, just as respondents did in last year’s survey. The fourth, fifth and sixth most popular resources were instructor-led training at a training center (47.5 percent), computer-based training and simulations (46.7 percent) and product documentation (45.7 percent).
The least-valuable study materials respondents were Internet mailing lists/news groups and brain-dump sites, with 16.3 percent of respondents saying the former was less valuable or not valuable and 13.2 percent saying the same of the latter. This was a change from last year, when community and technical college courses made the list of least-valuable resources.
Surprisingly, all of the study materials had levels of nonuse. The majority of respondents did not use community and technical college courses (53.3 percent), vendor-authorized boot camps (50.3 percent) or online university and e-learning (44.9 percent). From the highest to lowest level of nonuse were brain dumps, Internet mailing lists and news groups, instructor-led training at a training center, computer-based training or simulations, product documentation, on-the-job training, practice exams and self-study books.
It seems that the resources, though, are getting slightly better over time. Almost 69 percent of you said the quality of learning materials was very good or excellent; 62.8 percent said the overall quality of their educational experiences were very good or excellent; and 62.3 percent said the quality of a test or exam was excellent or very good — all increases over last year. Nearly 54 percent of respondents said the comprehensiveness of training programs was excellent or very good, and 46.5 percent of you said the quality of instructors was very good or excellent.
But the question we’re all wondering: Is it worth the money? About 46 percent of the respondents said the value of the price paid for their most recent certification preparation was excellent or very good; 27.6 percent said good; 12.1 percent said fair; and 3.7 percent said poor — so you do the math.
– Lindsay Edmonds Wickman, email@example.com
How Specialization Impacts Salary
Six figures! For the first time in the history of CertMag’s Salary Survey, the average income of an information technology specialization has topped $100,000 in the U.S., if just by a hair. Additionally, the rest of the top five specializations exceeded $90,000 per year. To truly appreciate the significance of these stats, consider that the top-earning field in the 2004 Salary Survey — system design — posted just $83,510.
Incidentally, that’s what took top honors in this year’s survey, too. Well, technically, it’s “strategic systems design and implementation,” but it’s very close to the specialization that also claimed first place four years ago. IT pros in this area of expertise — which could include anything from enterprise resource planning to convergence — pulled in an average of $100,320 in the U.S. That’s an increase of nearly $10,000 from last year, when it came in third among the specialties, and a rise of about 20 percent in a four-year period (see Fig. 7).
Dropping from the top spot in 2007 to No. 2 this year was storage design and implementation. U.S.-based techies in this field earned $98,400 on average, which, while not enough to put it at the pinnacle of IT specializations, still represents a respectable increase of nearly $2,500 from last year.
Information assurance, which covers the areas of data confidentiality and integrity, was ranked third with an annual income of $97,930. Because of the rising pressures around privacy compliance, secure systems and risk management, this discipline has stayed near the top since it was introduced in last year’s Salary Survey.
Another related field that typically places high on the list, security, came in fourth, at $94,740. This is a large rebound for this specialization, which fell from $93,500 (first place) in 2006 to $87,890 last year. Security also represents the largest segment of CertMag Salary Survey participants this year, with more than 3,000 U.S.-based respondents. The second largest? “Other.”
Finally, the fifth-place finisher was database design and implementation, which reported average annual earnings of $91,030. This field knocked Java development out of the top five on the strength of a $4,000-plus boost in income since 2007.
Other high earners in the U.S. included network design and implementation ($88,810), IT project planning and implementation ($85,580), database administration ($80,270) and IT instruction ($80,060).
In addition to this year’s top specialization, a couple of IT fields posted big gains in salary. Surprisingly, IT instruction went up nearly $10,000 this year from $70,290 in 2007. Furthermore, it was a big year for the networking space: network management came in at a healthy $76,760, up from $71,130 last year; network devices went from $63,130 last year to $68,470 this year; and network administration pros earned an average of $62,320, an increase of 4 percent from last year.
A few declines also were reported. Java development was the biggest: This field fell from more than $86,000 in 2007 to $75,670 this year. Software programming regressed, too, dropping from $70,210 to $67,940. Additionally, although it still places among the top-paying IT specializations, database administration fell approximately $3,000 from 2007.
In the lower tier of IT salaries, the best-performing specialization was IT generalist, which went from $55,370 last year to $62,570 this year. Other fields didn’t fare as well. Web development fell from $56,630 in 2007 to $55,030 this year, and help-desk support more or less stayed put, going from $46,880 last year to $46,560 this year.
Unfortunately, with U.S. economic conditions being what they are, many more IT specializations may be flat or falling during the next year or so. While it’s impossible to say with certainty how things will shake out, we might be looking at the worst year for salaries in the past five years. Here’s hoping that’s not the case.
– Brian Summerfield, firstname.lastname@example.org
Measuring IT on a Global Scale
As information technology remains ubiquitous across industries and IT continues to foster the development of professionals on a global scale, this year’s Salary Survey once again reflected a truly diverse set of respondents, hailing from more than 100 countries across six of the seven continents.
In fact, due to a rise in the number of respondents this year, we were able to count responses from seven countries that were rendered ineligible in 2007 because they had fewer than 50 respondents.
The data collected from this year’s survey, allows us to compare and contrast the average annual salaries of the highest- and lowest-paid countries as reported by IT professionals worldwide.
For a snapshot of this information and to determine how well your country fared this year, please refer to figure 8, which outlines a list of the average salaries of IT professionals reported by country.
Now to the question that everybody’s curious about: Which countries fared best and worst in terms of IT salaries in 2008?
Last year’s race for top honors was significantly tighter; this year, Norway crushed its competition and clearly emerged as the country with the highest-paid average salary, replacing Denmark, which dropped three places to the No. 4 spot this year.
However, what’s even more surprising than the ease with which Norway swept the other countries on the list is the remarkable increase in salary gains it has made in just a single year. The average salary in Norway rose by more than $35,000 — from $74,480 in 2007 to $109,660 this year.
The country with the second-highest average salary — Switzerland — trailed a safe distance behind despite registering significant improvements. Last year’s average salary for Switzerland was $79,920, compared with this year’s $92,640, a reported $12,720 increase in one year.
In third place was Australia with $87,380, which made its way back into the top five rankings this year, knocking the United Kingdom off the list.
Although the United Kingdom registered gains of more than $7,000 over the past year — from $72,740 to $79,820 — it still wasn’t sufficient to earn a spot on the highest-paid list.
Denmark and the United States rounded out the list, with its IT professionals earning average annual salaries of $87,010 and $81,520, respectively.
While average annual IT salaries appear to have risen across the board when compared to 2007, there was a bit of a shuffle among the five countries with the lowest average salaries reported in this year’s survey.
Jordan and Bulgaria, last year’s lowest and fifth lowest-paid countries, respectively, were forced to drop out of the race altogether this year, having each yielded fewer than 50 responses. Also, Thailand settled into eighth place on the lowest-paid spectrum with average annual earnings of $19,780 — up $6,890 from last year’s $12,890.1 | 2 | 3 |