IT salaries may rise this year. Or not.

April 25, 2017

We’ve all seen the horror movie in which a monster is in a state of suspended animation just outside of a small town, and everyone in the town is on edge, waiting for the event that will trigger the monster to come roaring back to life and wreak absolute havoc on the town.

That scenario has been playing out in the IT world for years, going all the way back to the 2008-09 recession. Hiring managers, employees, and consultants have all been waiting for the event that will trigger a rise in wages.

Not that we’re implying an increase in IT wages would be monstrous; it’s just a handy metaphor.

And, according to the latest salary surveys, we can all keep waiting for the salary monster because it’s still at rest. Or maybe this is the year the monster will awaken.

Computerworld published its annual IT Salary Survey in mid-April and included this frank comment: “When it comes to the outlook for IT salaries and jobs in 2017, it’s hard to know what to think.”

Dice released its annual Tech Salary Survey at the end of March with the headline “Salaries for Storage and Networking Skills on the Rise,” but found a 1% decrease in the average US tech salary.

The storage and networking skills that saw salary increases in the Dice survey were Compellent automated data tiering technology with a jump of 11.4%, FibreChannel over Ethernet networking with a 7.2% increase, and Job Control Language programming, also with a 7.2% increase.

The Computerworld survey, on the other hand, found that average total IT compensation grew 3% after gains of 3.6 and 3.9% the previous two years. It also found that a large majority, 63%, of respondents feel secure or very secure in their current jobs.

They have good reason. Unemployment in the IT sector has been running at or below 3% for over three years now, leading to a lot of head-scratching by analysts. Demand for IT talent is high, supply of IT talent is low, but compensation remains flat. The Computerworld survey mentioned the impact this gap between skill supply and demand has on companies, noting that some positions go unfilled in such areas as database management, desktop support, network administration and security:

“Indeed, 37% of the managers who took Computerworld’s survey reported that they have spent three to six months filling certain open IT positions, and 15% said they’ve spent more than half a year trying to find the right person for an IT job.”

For months, we’ve advised our clients to act fast when we source the talent they need for specific positions and projects. We know how many offers a talented IT pro can attract whenever he or she is near the end of an engagement.

We’ve also advised clients to be ready for consulting rates to go up. We know the monster is going to revive, but we’re just as unsure when that will happen as everyone else is. We agree with the note on the Computerworld survey cover, “…with predictions for IT spending and hiring all over the map, salaries could be in for a wild ride.”

Or not. Watch this space for further developments.

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