Salary Survey Extra: Salaries by employment tier
Posted on
June 23, 2022
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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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

How much money do certified IT professionals earn at certain levels of employment?

The reigning monarch of Luxembourg, Grand Duke Henri Albert Gabriel Félix Marie Guillaume had, in 2019, a net worth of roughly €4,013,460,000, or $4 billion. So, as they say, it’s good to be the king (or, you know, the ruler). Also in 2019, the personal fortune of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was estimated to be $131 billion, so it’s even better to be a top-tier tech executive.

It's been a rough couple of years since 2019, of course, and the super rich in particular have seen their massive fortunes suffer some notable shrinkage. The point is not to get all discursive about prominent individuals and what their salaries are; we’re just reasserting the long-lived truth that being at the top of the pecking order has its rewards.

Every business has its own pecking order, ofttimes more commonly referred to as an “org chart,” and everyone involved in a given business knows at least approximately where they stand. (Some businesses are more specific about such things than others.) Wherever a given individual ranks, it’s a good bet that the people below them earn less, the people at their level earn about the same, and the people above them earn more.

Each year when we fire up the Salary Survey, we ask a number of questions that help us get a sense of who, exactly, is responding to us. One of the basic ones asks survey participants to pick a title that roughly corresponds to where they stand on whatever the org chart looks like where they work. More succinctly, the question might be expressed as “What’s your employment tier?”

This week, we’re looking at data from the 2022 Salary Survey to draw out a number that corresponds to each of those employment tiers. What could a relatively newly minted certified IT professional — roughly 65 percent of our 2022 survey respondents have worked in IT for between zero year (1 to 11 months) and 9 years — expect to earn at each of these respective tiers?

The list below contains only certified IT professionals who live in the United States. We’ll circle back to this topic in a week or three to consider our non-U.S. respondents. Here’s what we learned:

Employment Tier: Average Salary of 2021 Survey Respondents at This Tier (Percentage of All Respondents at This Tier)
Executive: $113,360 (9.7 percent)
Director: $143,030 (8.1 percent)
Senior Manager: $111,620 (15 percent)
Manager: $110,570 (16.2 percent)
Senior Specialist: $124,170 (29.7 percent)
Specialist: $91,600 (11.1 percent)
Employee: $68,420 (10.2 percent)

Past salary surveys have tended to reveal a heavy concentration of respondents at or around the senior specialist level, and that's somewhat evident here as well. Broadly speaking, however, the 2022 survey captured a much more diverse population of certified IT professionals, at least in terms of overall workplace standing. We tend not to hear from very many individuals at the rank-and-file "employee" level, and that remains true here, and the survey is also somewhat light on top-tier certified professionals.

Those in the employee and specialist tiers are quote notably the worst off financially, though it's considerably better to be a specialist than an employee. Everyone else is taking home at least six figures, and while it's not all that surprising to see directors raking it in, the average executive salary is definitely below where many would almost certainly expect it to land.

As past surveys have shown, a key takeaway is that you don’t have to be in a position where you supervise the work of others to notch a six-figure salary. The average “senior specialist” is comfortably above that baseline.

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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