Salary Survey Extra: Do older certified IT workers have bigger salaries?
Posted on
December 9, 2021
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Salary Survey Extra is a series of dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our annual Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Advanced age is somewhat rarely seen as a positive in the IT industry, but being older in IT does have at least one notable perk.

Sometimes in life you can be surprisingly old and still pretty darn cool. Just look at the upcoming Disney+ Star Wars spinoff The Book of Boba Fett. The stars are 61-year-old Temuera Morrison as Boba Fett and 58-year-old Ming-Na Wen as his trusted compadre Fennec Shand. Way to stick it to ageism, Hollywood — and also, wow, Hollywood stuck it to ageism. Where did that come from?!

Ageism is frequently far more hindrance than help to either securing or extending gainful employment, perhaps nowhere more so than in the information technology (IT) industry. The IT bias against older workers is widely acknowledged and frequently discussed, both informally and in print.

On the other hand, if tech veterans can hang around long enough to grow old in IT, there are a couple of levels on which they can expect to have a decided advantage over their younger counterparts. Actual work experience, over and over again, is cited as being the most compelling indicator of IT capability. The longer one works in IT, of course, the more experienced one becomes.

And as much as observers tend to crow about the rapidity of change and advancement in IT, there are vast swaths of the world’s technological underpinnings that still rely on so-called “legacy” technology. Just because machine learning, for example, is all the rage in Silicon Valley, it doesn’t necessarily follow that knowledge of older technology is functionally useless.

The real benefit of working in IT for-ever or, you know, at least for 10 or 20 years, is the far more rewarding levels of compensation that are unlocked by older certified IT workers. Tenured IT professionals, probably for most of the reasons you’d imagine — greater value on account of advanced knowledge and experience, for example — generally earn bigger salaries than their younger peers.

Let’s look at the data:

Age Percentage of Respondents in this Age Bracket (U.S.) Average Annual Salary (U.S.) Percentage of Respondents in this Age Bracket (Non-U.S.) Average Annual Salary (Non-U.S.)
18 or younger (Fewer than 1 percent) N/A (Fewer than 1 percent) N/A
19-24 (Fewer than 1 percent) N/A 2.1 percent $25,270
25-34 14.2 percent $98,460 24.1 percent $47,230
35-44 27.1 percent $119,080 39.8 percent $74,010
45-54 33.2 percent $127,380 25 percent $92,830
55-64 22 percent $127,190 8.3 percent $87,830
65-74 2.7 percent $109,080 (Fewer than 1 percent) N/A
75 or older (Fewer than 1 percent) N/A (Fewer than 1 percent) N/A

2021 Survey Data

As has been the case with past surveys, we didn’t hear from very many folks younger than their early twenties. And the young folks who did respond are mostly from countries outside the United States. Among U.S. respondents, there’s a definite skew toward middle age, while those in younger brackets are largely from other countries around the globe.

Both in the United States and abroad, certified IT professionals earn progressively larger annual incomes as they get older. There’s a fair degree of decline in the Unites States during the final decade of employability — though six-figure salaries are still the norm — while notable upward progress tails off entering the mid-50s elsewhere in the world.

In either case, it seems clear that certified IT professionals who are young enough to be just walking away from college, or a few years removed from high school, should expect to start in the lower echelons of salary, and move up from there.

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. Subscriber to CertMag here.

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