Salary Survey 2020: IT professionals are nomadic, hold academic degrees
Posted on
January 22, 2020

This feature first appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.

Lots of certified IT professionals change jobs frequently, and many of them hold college degrees.

A lot can change in five years. In 1964, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States launched an unmanned two-person spacecraft to test the viability of potentially sending more than one person at a time into space. The Gemini spacecraft orbited the Earth for almost four days and burned up on re-entry. In 1969, NASA launched a three-man crew who spent more than eight days in space, landed on the Moon, and safely returned to Earth.

Your average certified IT professional probably won't walk on the Moon, or even just orbit the Earth, in the next five years, but he or she may change jobs, quite possibly more than once. There's a core of survey respondents, 13.7 percent of those surveyed, who clearly value stability and have been with their current employer for more than 15 years. Quite a few others, however, are far more nomadic.

A whopping 63 percent of survey respondents have worked for their current primary employer for five or fewer years. It's two or fewer years for 38 percent of all respondents, and zero years (1 to 11 months) for 15.7 percent of all respondents. With that many folks just settling in, relatively speaking, it seems clear that IT professionals, probably for a variety of reasons, are prone to change jobs.

Some might argue that all of those new and relatively new arrivals are merely the vanguard of a rising generation of IT workers flooding in from colleges and high schools. Weighing rather heavily against that line of reasoning, however, is the fact that most of those who responded to the survey are not spring chickens.

Lots of certified IT professionals change jobs frequently, and many of them hold college degrees.

A topic of concern for many in the tech industry is the general aging of the workplace population, and this year's survey, like the last few we've done, bears out that trend. A sobering 39 percent of those who responded to this year's survey are 45 or older, and 31 percent are between the ages of 35 and 44. By contrast, just 4.6 percent of respondents are younger than 25.

That's 70 percent of today's working professionals who were either born, coming of age, or (gulp) already in the workforce the year (1984) that Ghostbusters became a top-grossing sensation at U.S. movie theaters.

If you're considering a career in IT and you have the time and means to get a college degree, then you'd probably be well advised to do so. As you can see by looking at the "snapshot" of Salary Survey respondents included here, more than 79 percent of U.S. survey respondents, and more than 80 percent of survey respondents from all other countries, have college degrees of one sort or another.

Speaking of timing, 22.5 percent of survey respondents worked in IT for less than a year before getting their first certification. And you don't have to stretch that timetable very far to capture a much larger slice of the pie. A striking 45.4 percent of those surveyed earned their first certification after working in IT for between 1 year and 5 years.

As we've learned from past surveys, there are IT jobs at every rung of the corporate ladder. We've found pretty consistently, on the other hand, that the highest concentration of skilled tech professionals tends to reside at the senior specialist level.

That was the case this year as well, with 40.6 percent of all survey respondents declaring themselves senior specialists. The next largest group is the one immediately below on the standard-issue company org chart: 18.5 percent of those surveyed are specialists, followed by largish contingents of rank-and-file employees (17.1 percent) and managers (10.4 percent).

No matter what job title accompanies the picture on their I.D. badge, there's a pretty strong degree of confidence and satisfaction among most survey respondents. A sturdy 62 percent of those surveyed have no intention of seeking a different job in 2018. (Given the indicators discussed a few paragraphs above this one, it sounds as though at least some IT workers who are about to change jobs just don't know it yet.)

And though the IT industry as a whole has certainly been subject to employment upheavals in recent years, most workers are feeling secure, at least in the short term. A remarkable 91.7 percent of respondents do not anticipate being laid off in the coming year, while 94.4 percent are confident they won't have to deal with a pay cut.

TABLE TALK : All IT professionals are not struck from the same mold, but there are some similarities. How do you compare?

Lots of certified IT professionals change jobs frequently, and many of them hold college degrees.
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Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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