Salary Survey 2023: Employment landscape clouded by layoffs past ... and pending?
Posted on
January 3, 2023

This feature first appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of Certification Magazine. Click here to get your own print or digital copy.

Up-and-down salaries and layoffs loomed over the IT landscape in 2022.

Sometimes it seems like everything in the world revolves around money. Sometimes it seems like everything out of the world revolves around money. One of the most invigorating entertainment experiences of 2022 was the Star Wars prequel series Andor, which debuted on Disney+ in late September to transport viewers back to George Lucas's galaxy far away and long ago.

What did we find when we got there? Money problems. In the first 10 minutes of the first episode, two off-duty security officers jump a guy in a dark alley, more or less intending to steal his wallet. Key founding figures in the not-yet-official Rebel Alliance struggle to amass the funds required to organize anti-Imperial raids, or purchase ships and weapons.

An entire three-episode arc revolves around a desperate plan to steal the "quarterly payroll for an entire Imperial sector." (Sounds like a lot, right? We do learn that tens of millions of "credits" are involved.) There are separate scenes of the same character standing on principle about betraying comrades over money, and then begging a relative to accept his money and abandon the life she knows.

There's even a character in Andor who finds himself assigned to what is definitely an IT gig in the fuel purity division of the Imperial Bureau of Standards. (If there were a Salary Survey on Coruscant, that guy definitely would have taken it.)

Maybe not all that much has changed: Way back in 1977, Luke's Uncle Owen kicked things off with a questionable investment in stolen droids and Ben Kenobi sold Luke's landspeeder to get money for passage to Alderaan. Later on in that inaugural adventure, Han Solo is almost too busy loading boxes of cash onto the Millennium Falcon to wave goodbye when Luke jumps in an X-wing and flies off to attack the Death Star.

Maybe, after all, life is just stories that we tell ourselves about money, and problems, and money problems. And now that we've turned the page on 2022, here's another story about ... you know.

In a calendar year full of news cycles dominated by confustication and bebotherment about global inflation, certified IT professionals appear to have moderately benefitted from compensation figures that bounced back a bit from a dismal 2021. Or at least they did in the United States. As illustrated by the graphic on this page, it was a "taketh away" kind of salary year for non-U.S. IT workers.

Up-and-down salaries and layoffs loomed over the IT landscape in 2022.

The post-COVID flowering of the so-called Great Resignation continued in 2022, and — as we first noted at the end of 2021 — the IT industry was not immune. Of the more than 14,000 certified IT professionals who participated in this year's survey, only 80.6 percent are employed full-time. That's a falloff of roughly 7 percent from the then-groundbreaking tally we reported last year.

Where did everyone go? Some people undoubtedly recast themselves as giggers or freelancers. Across all survey participants, part-time employment rose from 6.5 percent at the end of 2021 to 7.9 percent at the end of 2022. At the same time, however, unemployment climbed from 3.7 percent (late 2021) to 6.2 percent (late 2022) — and there's a much more disturbing trend that almost certainly contributed to those numbers.

An eye-opening 20.6 percent of all survey respondents got a pink slip in 2022, a percentage that is remarkably consistent whether taking into account only U.S. workers (20.2 percent) or looking at all workers outside the United States (20.9 percent). There may well be stormy waters ahead, too: 19.9 percent of all survey respondents said they anticipate being laid off in 2023.

The overall U.S. employment picture is somewhat rosier than elsewhere around the globe. In the United States, 84.5 percent of survey respondents are employed full-time, with 6 percent in part-time jobs, and 4.7 percent out of work. Among respondents from all other countries, 75.8 percent are employed full-time, 10.2 percent have part-time time jobs, and 8.1 percent are unemployed.

If you can hang on to the job you have, then you're likely to reap a reward beyond the obvious benefit of stability in an uncertain employment climate. A strong 65.4 percent of all survey respondents got some level of bonus or incentive pay in 2022, while 74.5 percent got a raise. (A bit more than 54 percent double-dipped at the well of prosperity, both getting a raise and taking home bonus or incentive pay.)

While there’s clear interest in incentivizing employment, however, the various factors dragging on regional economies victimized more than a few survey respondents. A worrisome 20 percent of all survey respondents saw their pay get cut in 2022 — up from 15 percent the previous year — and 19 percent of respondents believe that a pay cut of some sort is likely to come along in 2023.

Continuing a trend from past years, bonuses and incentive pay were a bit more common in 2022 among U.S. tech workers than among their peers in other countries — about 69 percent of U.S. respondents were given additional compensation, compared to just 61 percent in non-U.S. countries. Pay raises were also more common among U.S. workers, with a bit more than 77 percent getting a salary bump, compared to just 71 percent among workers from all other countries.

As typically happens, there are some certified IT professionals who want more. A solid 72 percent of all survey respondents are either completely satisfied (8.7 percent), very satisfied (25.4 percent), or satisfied (37.7 percent) with their current salary. On the other hand, 21.6 percent of all respondents are not very satisfied with their current salary, while 6.5 percent are not at all satisfied.

There’s much more to tell than we have room for in print, and we’re not stopping here. Keep your eyes glued to in the months ahead, and we’ll check in there with new survey data every week.

TABLE TALK: Compensation rises for some certifications faster than others.

About the Author

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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