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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
If there’s one thing that almost everyone agrees on, it’s that more than certification, more than education, more than professional connections, more than any other single contributing factor, IT workers get paid based on the breadth and depth of their professional IT experience. More than anything else, it’s professional experience that convinces employers a potential hire has the stuff to get a job done.
Lots of other factors contribute to determining salary. What employers want more than anything else, however, is to hire someone who has done it (or IT) before. Whatever it is that needs doing in a particular workplace setting, people want most of all to work with someone who has done it before and can, based on that experience, step in and get to work with minimal training or guidance.
For today’s dip into our pool of 2018 Salary Survey data, we decided to draw a line between salary and years of professional IT experience, and see what pops through. For example, one thing we learned is that our overall salary numbers are almost certainly heavily influenced by the level of professional IT experience among survey respondents.
The most telling number on the large chart of numbers we’re about to drop in here is at the bottom. More than 40 percent of survey participants who contributed to the 2018 Salary Survey have worked in IT for more than 20 years. Or in other words, they started out in the industry either right around the time that President Bill Clinton (!) began his second term in office, or at some point before that.
For the following chart, we list years of IT experience, average and median annual salary for all survey respondents with that level of experience, and the size of respondents in that group as a percentage of all respondents. Here’s what we found:
U.S. Salary Survey Respondents
It’s interesting to note that the lowest average annual salary is claimed by workers with less than 1 year of professional IT experience, and the highest average annual salary is claimed by workers with more than 20 years of experience. But it’s not a straight climb from one point to the other: there are a few small peaks and valleys.
On the other hand, it is generally true that workers earn increasingly more money as the level of their professional IT experience rises. Even if it’s only because employers perceive that experience has value, there’s definitely a case to be made that workers with more experience get better pay.