Salary Survey Extra: Salaries by employment tier, Part 2
Posted on
July 15, 2021

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.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 you earn as a certified IT professional can be a function of what employment tier you occupy.

In 2020, streaming video colossus Netflix paid $20 million for the rights to air a taping of rock star Bruce Springsteen’s acclaimed one-man Broadway show. A chunk of that hefty sum no doubt flowed more or less directly into Springsteen’s coffers, adding to his reported overall net worth of $500 million (as of mid-2021) and providing further illustration of the time-honored maxim that the Boss gets the big checks.

Your own lowercase-B-boss probably gets a nice payday as well, though perhaps not quite that nice. Although who are we to judge? Your boss could be Jeff Bezos, in which case Bruce Springsteen might be the featured performer at the next company Christmas party. Probably not, though, because a guy who makes his warehouse employees pee in a bottle to cut down on break times probably wouldn’t hire a Coney Island organ grinder for the company Christmas party, or ever have a party in the first place.

We digress.

The point is that 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 2021 Salary Survey to draw out a number that corresponds to each of those employment tiers. What could a relatively seasoned certified IT professional — roughly 80 percent of our 2021 survey respondents have worked in IT for at least a full decade — expect to earn at each of these respective tiers?

We already looked at the respective standings among U.S. IT professionals, so the list below references only certified IT professionals who live in non-U.S. countries. Here’s what we learned:

Employment Tier: Average Salary of 2021 Survey Respondents at This Tier (Percentage of All Respondents at This Tier)
Executive: $110,580 (2.6 percent)
Director: $118,430 (7.2 percent)
Senior Manager: $85,410 (13 percent)
Manager: $69,850 (18.6 percent)
Senior Specialist: $71,090 (37.1 percent)
Specialist: $54,530 (12.6 percent)
$41,020 (8.9 percent)

Much as was the case among U.S. certified IT professionals, we can here that almost exactly two-thirds of Salary Survey respondents fall into three different tiers: specialist, senior specialist, and manager. It’s much more rare to hear from rank-and-file IT workers. About the same number of respondents hail from the “director” tier as from the “employee” tier.

It’s also true here, as among U.S. workers, that managers tend to make a bit less than senior specialists, while the salary number for executives falls a bit below the earnings of directors.

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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