Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Are there still water coolers in professional IT workplaces? The metaphorical use of a water cooler to express the idea of coworkers gathering together to chat and/or gossip is believed to have originated in American English in the mid-19th century, more than 150 years ago. That's before many — if not most — people even worked in offices with water coolers to gather around.
There's no definitive subject for water cooler conversation. The whole idea is that employees share and commiserate about whatever topic or topics happens to be on their minds. It's entirely natural, on the other hand, to talk about work: It's the one thing that everyone has in common. It's also natural for coworkers to raise and hash over various work-related concerns.
Each year when the Salary Survey comes around, we have a question that asks survey takers to chew over common work- and IT certification-related issues. The sort of things that we imagine would be fodder for real-life water cooler conversations. Or conversations centered around wherever it is that modern employees get together during a break from the daily grind.
These are barometer-type questions that are sometimes indicative of larger emerging issues or worrying trends. We took the temperature of the room, so to speak, almost exactly a year ago, so opinions could certainly have changed. But here's what Salary Survey participants were thinking about key issues around the end of 2022.
NOTE: This will be part one of two, covering the first three of the seven total questions that we asked. Here's what we learned:
Q: As a certified IT professional, how concerned are you about the availability of jobs?
Very Concerned — 23.2 percent
Concerned — 27 percent
Somewhat Concerned — 21.1 percent
Mildly Concerned — 13.9 percent
Not At All Concerned — 14.8 percent
Competition for qualified workers is particularly fierce in some IT sectors, like cybersecurity, but there has been a generally remarked shortage of skilled IT professionals for decades now. So it's at least a little surprising to see that more than half of those surveyed (all of whom have at least one current IT credential) are either concerned or very concerned about the availability of jobs.
It could be that many of the jobs available are not particularly high-salaried. Or it could reflect emerging anxiety about the potential of AI and automation to replace human workers. Or maybe certified IT professionals are, like workers in most industries, always at least a little concerned about what lies around the next bend in the employment road.
Q: As a certified IT professional, how concerned are you about job security?
Very Concerned — 23 percent
Concerned — 28.7 percent
Somewhat Concerned — 19.4 percent
Mildly Concerned — 15.9 percent
Not At All Concerned — 13 percent
For the sake of context, 80.6 percent of all survey participants are employed full-time. So job security is likely to cross the minds of at least 8 out of every 10 survey participants in the course of an ordinary year. Here again, we see that a bit more than half of all survey participants have a relatively high level of anxiety about remaining in place with their current employer.
It's far from the case that all jobs are equally secure, and roughly half of all survey participants (50.1 percent) work in jobs with no management-level responsibilities. It makes sense that many workers who are, at least to some degree, viewed interchangeably would be nervous about the permanence of their positions.
Q: As a certified IT professional, how concerned are you about compensation and benefits?
Very Concerned — 27.4 percent
Concerned — 29.8 percent
Somewhat Concerned — 22.4 percent
Mildly Concerned — 13 percent
Not At All Concerned — 7.4 percent
Money seems to matter to everyone, no matter where you work, or what your level of workplace responsibility. So it makes sense that more than 57 percent of survey participants are strongly concerned about compensation and benefits. A comparatively minimal 7.4 percent of those surveyed essentially never worry about salary and benefits.
There has also been an unusual degree of inflationary pressure on earning power of late, so it's likely that some people who may not have been particularly anxious about compensation in past years are feeling an increased degree of strain.
Keep an eye on this space next week, when we circle back to the Salary Survey's water cooler to see how certified IT professionals are (or were) feeling about IT certification issues.