Salary Survey Extra: Salary and depth of IT experience (U.S. workers)
Posted on
March 28, 2019

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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Do certified IT pros get paid more based on their years of IT experience? Let's find out!

There are many different factors employers consider when making a hiring decision. One of the weightiest, however, is the extent of a given candidate's practical professional experience. A skilled professional with a deep hands-on background isn't guaranteed of being hired for a given job — past performance, as they say, is no guarantee of future success.

More often than not, however, an information technology (IT) professional who has a long work history stands a much better chance of being hired than one who has knowledge of IT but whose knowledge hasn't really been tested. The level of assurance and competence that comes from months and year of grappling directly with real-world challenges is highly prized.

That being the case, you'd expect certified IT professionals who have years of IT experience to earn more than their less proven counterparts. As IT experience increases, salary, generally speaking, could be presumed to increase along with it.

For today's dip into our pool of 2019 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. Nearly 40 percent of survey participants who contributed to the 2019 Salary Survey have worked in IT for more than 20 years. Or in other words, they started out in the industry at or about the same year that Keanu Reeves realized he was living in The Matrix.

For the following chart, we list years of IT experience, average and median annual salary for all U.S. 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

Years of IT Experience Average Annual Salary Median Annual Salary Percentage of All Respondents at This Level of IT Experience
Less than 1 $54,800 $46,250 1.7 percent
1 $46,030 $34,000 1.4 percent
2 $61,200 $60,830 1.8 percent
3 $66,220 $56,880 3.1 percent
4 $79,840 $73,550 2.7 percent
5 $82,950 $71,880 3.3 percent
6 $78,320 $73,000 2.2 percent
7 $92,850 $86,250 2.5 percent
8 $76,190 $70,630 2.7 percent
9 $95,560 $93,750 1.2 percent
10 $102,610 $105,420 6.3 percent
11 $103,680 $102,500 1.7 percent
12 $108,250 $107,500 2.6 percent
13 $102,700 $103,500 2.2 percent
14 $112,270 $113,750 1.9 percent
15 $96,680 $91,750 4.7 percent
16 $110,750 $112,500 2.4 percent
17 $111,850 $98,750 2.2 percent
18 $107,670 $100,830 5.5 percent
19 $108,510 $105,830 2.6 percent
20 $115,440 $118,130 7.4 percent
More than 20 $127,260 $124,420 37.9 percent

2019 Salary Survey Data

The lowest average annual salary, interestingly, is not claimed by workers less than 1 year of IT experience. Those who have a year under their belts are actually somewhat worse off. Other than, however, there's a general progression upward — salary rises as experience increases — with intermittent peaks and valleys along the way.

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. We ran this comparison using only data from U.S. survey respondents. Next week, perhaps, we can check back in and see if the same general trend is evident outside the United States.

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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