IT Salary Survey

IT Salary Survey: Compensation for (most) tech pros continues to rise

Our survey of 1,889 IT pros finds that compensation is holding strong across the board for tech professionals. But certain roles and areas of expertise command higher salaries than others.

Insider Pro IT Salary Survey 2020
IDG / Zephyr18 / Getty Images

With the economy cruising along in growth mode, technology budgets still flush, and the pace of hiring holding strong, the picture looks rosy for IT professionals hoping to maximize earning potential and career advancement.

According to the 2020 IDG Insider Pro and Computerworld IT Salary Survey, total compensation, including base salary and bonuses, remains on a mostly upward trajectory -- a sign that the IT sector remains fertile ground for growth-oriented professionals. The annual IT salary survey, of 1,889 IT professionals employed either full-time or part-time, found that compensation is rising for most full-time and contract IT positions regardless of region and across a wide range of management and non-management roles.

Among IT professionals employed full or part-time, nearly three quarters (70.4 percent) were the beneficiary of a salary bump this year while pay remained consistent for a quarter (25.7 percent) of respondents. Only 3.9 percent of those surveyed reported a dip in compensation, which amounted to 12.6 percent on average.

IDG Insider Pro  >  Salary Survey 2020  >  [Chart#07] Most IT Pros See Salary Increases IDG

Whether you're a senior IT manager or an IT contractor, you most likey saw either an increase or no change in compensation -- though full-time workers fared a little better than those working in the gig economy.

For the majority of IT workers, however, the story of compensation and bonuses in 2019 was mainly a positive one. IT workers employed in the South Central region of the United States were the most likely to benefit from a salary boost this year, at 72.2 percent, while workers in the Northeast a little less so than the average, at 69.9 percent. Pay increases seem to favor younger workers in the 18-34 age bracket with 73.6 percent reporting spikes while IT workers between 45-54 were less likely to receive additional compensation, at 68.1percent. The percent reporting a salary bump is pretty consistent across gender.

IT staffers most likely to see the biggest salary boosts had a specialized set of technical competencies: For example, those with expertise in cloud computing saw a 13.4 percent boost, on average, while enterprise application integration experts enjoyed an 11.3 percent spike and security professionals an 11.2 percent boost.

The positive compensation news wasn’t limited to full- or part-time positions — IT contract workers were also able to ride the coattails on a competitive market with 91.8 percent reporting an increase or no change in pay from last year.

Workers cited a number of reasons for compensation being on an upward trajectory. More than half of respondents (54.7 percent) said the principal driver for this year’s pay raise was the standard increase. Nearly a third of respondents to the survey (30 percent) called out their job performance as the primary impetus for receiving a salary bump while another 20 percent said a cost of living increase was behind the extra money in their paycheck.

IDG Insider Pro  >  Salary Survey 2020  >  [Chart#08] Reasons for Increase in Compensation IDG

Among the reasons for an increase in salary are standard increases, cost of living raises and increased responsibility. 

For IT management positions, a pay increase was more likely in the cards for those willing to take on more responsibility or oversight functions — a scenario cited by 14 percent of that group compared to only 8 percent of IT staff. Staff employees said the most expedient path to more money came with making a lateral move to a different organization, cited by 6 percent of staffers compared to only 2 percent of IT management.

At BroadPoint Group, a Microsoft solutions provider, there’s been a general uptick in compensation across the board, but the real change for the upcoming year will be a shift away from an emphasis on contractors to full-time, salaried employees, according to David Ferreira, CTO for the firm. The reason, Ferreira says, is a swing away from short-term project work to larger and longer-running technology engagements as well as assignments that demand specialized skill sets in areas like machine learning and big data analytics.

“All the roles we are hiring will now be full-time employees rather than contractors,” says Ferreira, adding that BroadPoint is planning to onboard 17 new IT hires in 2020. “We are doing that to reduce the amount of time in between the acquisition of contracts and when we can get started. We want to have people ready to go at any given time.”

[ Related: Tech Resume Library: 12 downloadable templates for IT pros ]

Show me the money

In addition to a steady stream of pay raises, starting salaries for IT positions remained robust across regions and for a variety of roles. Specialty competencies in cloud, application development and enterprise architect were among the highest paid positions while help desk and technical support and many mobile-related roles received significantly lighter pay checks.

Senior management positions commanded an average total compensation (salary plus bonus) of $166,768, with the highest paid posts in the Pacific region at $157,246, and female leaders’ total compensation running about $10,000 less than their male colleagues, at 127,913. Mid-management roles earned $100,856, on average this year, while for IT staff, the mean salary was $83,472. Senior management expected close to $21,000 in bonuses while mid managers were anticipating another $6,600, on average; for IT staffers, that number was $5,100.

Digging deeper into specific roles, CIOs took home the most flush paycheck — a total of $202,224 in total compensation, on average. CTOs pulled in an average of $192,561 annually while the mean pay for chief information security officers (CISOs) was $167,780, with the South Atlantic and North Central regions offering the meatiest compensation packages at $203,180 and $206,750, respectively. While still a relatively new and emerging role, chief data officers (CDOs) indicated a salary that rivals that of a CIO. However, CDOs represent only a small proportion of survey respondents.

In the management ranks, cloud computing managers ($142,580) and application developer managers ($138,515) were the highest paid. Among the many technical roles canvassed, database architects ($136,300), network architects ($135,454), cloud specialists ($130,367), and enterprise architects ($126,591) enjoyed the highest compensation packages. On the flip side, social media specialists ($60,667) help desk and support technicians ($54,318), mobility mangers ($52,000), and mobile specialists ($51,000) were paid at the lower end of the spectrum.

IDG Insider Pro  >  Salary Survey 2020  >  [Chart#01] Compensation by Job Title IDG

A detailed look at salary and bonus by title and expertise. (Click for larger image.)

For the most part, IT professionals were happy with their compensation status, even more so than last year. Sixty percent of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their packages while less than a fifth (18.4 percent) said they were dissatisfied. Senior managers were most likely to be very satisfied (19.2 percent vs. 15.1 percent among others) while younger IT professionals — those between the ages of 18 and 44 — were more likely to be pleased with their salary packages this year compared to last. Females were also more likely to be very satisfied with their pay packages compared to their male colleagues, 19.8 percent vs. 15.1 percent.

IDG Insider Pro  >  Salary Survey 2020  > Satisfaction with Total Compensation IDG

You are mostly to be satsified with your compensation if you are a middle-aged woman in senior management. 

One female analyst handing IT asset management at HCL Technologies, said while her initial salary was slightly lower than expected, she’s content with its overall progression and is feeling upbeat about this year’s planned compensation increases. More importantly, the analyst, 36, is happy that her current position affords an opportunity to cross-train on multiple positions, providing greater flexibility as she navigates this stage in her IT career.

“It really gives me the opportunity to find my niche — my forever home where I belong,” she says. “I’ve been working on that for a while and feel like I’ve paid my dues with startups and contract work. For now, that’s more important than compensation and bonuses.”