Software, Data Skills Key to Higher Pay

Though few are on par with Twitter’s $10 million engineer, pay is on the upswing for IT occupations, according to a new Robert Half Technology salary survey.

The report suggests that while salaries will rise an average of 3.7 percent in 2014 across accounting/finance, technology, legal, creative and administrative jobs, the positions with the highest pay jumps will be engineering, software development and programming. For instance, mobile applications developers and software developers will see increases of nearly 8 percent.

The survey looked at national average starting pay in IT positions across 150 markets, noting that seniority and work ethic going forward makes comparison difficult. Also, it doesn’t include bonuses, stock options and other forms of compensation (stock awards represent the bulk of Christopher Fry’s compensation at Twitter– his base pay as senior vice president of engineering was $145,513, with a bonus of $100,000).

Software development figures prominently in the positions expected to show heady salary growth.

Top 10 Tech Salaries by Position

Special skills still warrant premium pay, according to the report, with SharePoint topping the list, commanding an extra 12 percent. Microsoft SQL Server and virtualization skills follow with a 10 percent premium, followed by Java, .NET, PHP and C# development at 9 percent. Cisco network admins and Linux/Unix admins also can expect a 9 percent premium.

Software Dev Lifts All Boats

“We’ve seen substantial increases in the past couple of years,” said Deborah Vazquez, CEO of staffing and executive search firm PROTECH. Candidates in software development, particularly in Java and .NET, are in high demand with salaries increasing by 15 to 20 percent over a few years ago, she said. “We’re seeing demand along the whole software lifecycle,” she added, citing opportunities for business analysts, project managers and QA as well.

While it’s a candidate’s market in areas such as mobile app development and predictive analytics, there’s less salary growth on the infrastructure side. Indeed, positions in operations – managers, computer operators, mainframe systems programmers – were projected to have the least salary growth, less than 3 percent. Pay growth for some help desk and technical support positions came in at less than 4 percent.

Meanwhile, IT services companies are hot to hire technology sales executives as well as talent with cloud, software-as-a-service and Big Data skills, Vazquez said.

Not All About the Money

Of course, every market’s different, and the 8.4 percent projected growth for pre-sales engineers nationally isn’t the top job in San Francisco, where Web developers and mobile app developers have lots of choices and are demanding top compensation. Business intelligence analysts and data architects, too, are in high demand.

“It’s a very competitive market, and companies really have to distinguish themselves from their competitors to get the top talent,” said David Knapp, San Francisco metro market manager for Robert Half Technology.

However, Knapp noted, while companies have to pony up for high performers, it’s not necessarily all about the money for them. “It’s about the company, the technology, what they’re doing,” he said. “And the ability to work from home a couple of days a week, the hours – that’s really important to them.”

Vazquez concurs: “[Employers] have to have a [personal] growth story for them, a transformation story, a career path.”

And she said signing bonuses are back, ranging from $5,000 for a software engineer to $25,000 for a technology exec. And Knapp said candidates are asking for them.

Gap in Salaries

Glassdoor’s salary data is based on users who anonymously post what they make, giving a broad view of occupations and companies. Nevertheless, IT positions are showing year-over-year base salary growth of about 3 percent, according to spokesman Scott Dobroski. Since those reporting salaries already hold those positions, though, its data doesn’t necessarily reflect what companies have to offer to land a new hire.

Either way, it’s difficult for companies to bring new talent into their software teams, Vazquez said, because the other workers’ pay would have been competitive in 2008 or 2009, but isn’t anymore.

“There’s a big gap in salaries,” she said, “And they’re usually not in a position to give everyone a raise.”

That, and layoffs leaving more work for those who remain – a factor Robert Half warned about in its 2013 report — have workers realizing they can bump up their salaries by moving to new jobs.

Glassdoor’s third-quarter employment confidence survey, Dobroski noted, found that 76 percent of workers said their employer had restored perks cut in the downturn, one way companies are trying to hang on to the talent already on board.

Comments

  1. BY ks says:

    Remember if you didn’t get more than 3% you got cost of living.

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