Salary Survey Extra: IT salaries by educational attainment
Posted on
April 16, 2016
Does going to college guarantee you a better IT salary?

Spring has sprung, but Salary Survey Extra isn't quite ready to turn over a new leaf. Customarily, these articles draw on data from our most recent Salary Survey. In addition to the annual Salary Survey, that includes the more targeted Salary Survey PLUS inquiries that we conduct three times a year. With the publication of our Spring Edition earlier this month, it's official: The year-end 2015 annual Salary Survey no longer represents our most recent compilation of results.

We feel like there's more to be learned, however, from further examination of that data. So even though we've already published the initial findings of our Project Management Salary Survey PLUS, we're not yet going to leave the annual Salary Survey behind. For the next several weeks, we'll be alternating between the two. This week, we're sticking (like glue) to results from the annual Salary Survey. Next week, we'll take our first peek at additional data from the Project Management survey.

On that note, last week's Salary Survey Extra looked at the correlation between salary and the age and gender of IT professionals. This week, we've gone off on a related tangent, looking at the correlation between salary and the level of formal education achieved by IT professionals. Does having a college degree mean better pay? The natural assumption that most people make is, yes, the level of education that you have attained absolutely affects your salary. When viewed in aggregate, however, it's not entirely clear that such is the case.

We've drawn our usual line between U.S. survey respondents and those in other nations. When it comes to post-secondary education, however, the overall composition of both groups is notably similar. On the survey, we ask respondents to identify the highest level of formal education they've completed. The breakdown is as follows:

United States — What is the highest level of education you have completed?
Bachelor's degree: 40.7 percent
Master's degree: 35.4 percent
Two-year college degree: 8.5  percent
Technical training (no college degree): 7.8 percent
High school diploma: 3 percent
Doctorate: 2.1 percent
Currently in school: 1.5 percent
Professional degree (such as for law or medicine): 0.9 percent

All Non-U.S. Countries — What is the highest level of education you have completed?
Bachelor's degree: 40.9 percent
Master's degree: 33.3 percent
High school diploma: 5.9 percent
Professional degree (such as for law or medicine): 5.3 percent
Technical training (no college degree): 5.3 percent
Two-year college degree: 3.3  percent
Doctorate: 1.7 percent
Currently in school: 0.01 percent

We've chosen not to consider the salary data from groups smaller than two percent of their respective survey populations. That leaves us with the following:


Highest Level of Education Salary Highest Level of Education Salary
High school diploma $109,740 High school diploma $53,300
Technical training (no college degree) $107,350 Technical training (no college degree) $69,440
Two-year college degree $96,830 Two-year college degree $64,070
Bachelor’s degree $109,980 Bachelor’s degree $51,940
Master’s degree $122,450 Master’s degree $56,210
Doctorate $140,020 Professional Degree $42,290
Insufficient data: Professional degree, Currently in school Insufficient data: Doctorate, Currently in school

At a glance, it would seem that a college degree, in particular a master's degree, carries more weight in the United States than elsewhere around the world. And while it seems likely that there's a considerable work experience gap between "I just graduated from high school" and "now I have a six-figure salary," it would appear that there is upward mobility in IT even for those who don't go to college.

Where do IT pros go to get away from IT all?

AWAY FROM THE OFFICE  Nobody stays at work indefinitely. Once in a while, everyone has to get away to somewhere, even if it's just to take a couple of days off and read a book or watch TV at home. On the other hand, what if you could go anywhere in the world? Where is your dream vacation spot? Where would you go to "get away from IT all"? (See what we did there? Can you tell we're at this week's Not-So-Serious question?)

We provided a range of options and asked survey respondents which of them sounds most enticing. Surprisingly, despite its standing as the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland is not the de facto destination of choice for IT pros in the same way that it is for, say, Super Bowl-winning NFL athletes. And while IT pros may often self-identify as "geeks," Comic-Con barely registered. Here's what we found:

New Zealand — 25.7 percent
Mediterranean cruise to ancient Roman and Greek historical sites — 19.5 percent
Las Vegas — 8.2 percent
Macchu Picchu — 8.0 percent
The French Riviera — 6.7 percent
Mars — 6.3 percent
Disneyland — 6.6 percent
Anywhere my spouse and kids can't find me — 5.1 percent
Rio during Carnival — 4.6 percent
One-on-one helicarrier getaway with Black Widow — 3.8 percent
Mount Everest — 3.7 percent
Comic-Con — 1.7 percent

Question as it appeared on the survey: My dream vacation would be ...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.

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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