<B>Salary Survey:</B> It Pays to Do Windows

The good times just keep on rolling for Windows NT managers and developers. Companies are scrambling to lure and retain talent with hefty premiums, bonuses and raises. Over the past year, many Windows NT professionals had raises of 5 to 7 percent -- well above typical increases for other fields -- as well as bonuses equaling 5 to 12 percent of base incomes.

The movement of Windows NT into the enterprise, as well as into electronic business, is driving this demand. Professionals managing enterprise-class systems, supporting applications such as ERP and collaborative groupware, are seeing above-average paychecks. In addition, developers with Java and C++ skills are hot commodities.

These findings come from a recent salary survey of randomly selected ENT readers. A total of 153 questionnaires were returned, reflecting pay ranges for Windows NT and related positions nationwide. The survey covered a number of organizational levels, from CIOs to entry-level programmers. Salary figures shown are based on the median (falling at the 50 percent mark in the range), unless otherwise indicated. Low numbers in ranges represent salaries falling on the 25 percent mark, while the high numbers are salaries represent the 75 percent mark.

The survey found that, overall, annual base salaries for all levels of Windows managers -- CIOs, vice presidents (VP) and IS directors -- start at $50,000 and climb to the $100,000 range. Windows NT programmers and analysts are seeing salaries between $32,500 and $70,000. Rewards are highest for managers and programmers in the manufacturing and utility sectors. In just about every job category, Windows NT professionals based in the Western United States -- primarily the West Coast -- had salary ranges significantly higher than the rest of the country.

Demand continues to outstrip supply of developer talent. "We're seeing extraordinary demand for programmers and software engineers that know COM, DCOM and ActiveX," remarks Dudley Brown, president of BridgeGate LLC (Irvine, Calif.), a technical recruiting firm. Windows NT developers now draw the same salary levels as Unix developers, he notes.

"The labor shortage has put companies into a bidding war for talent," agrees Kerriann Vogel, senior research analyst with Meta Group (Stamford, Conn.). This has resulted in skill premiums being built into a range of IS positions, she says. In fact, more companies are paying bonuses and incentives for IT professionals: 77 percent this year compared with 30 percent last year, Meta Group found in its own survey.

However, some in the industry fear there is a dark side to these high pay levels. Many of these higher-paying jobs encompass "excessive hours," which results in high turnover in the industry, says Bob Couter, director of software development for Software 4 Retail Solutions (Lakewood, Colo.), which provides point-of-sale and network software for retail operations. "Some companies compensate for higher salaries by expecting programmers to work extra -- sometimes excessive -- hours," he says.

"We're just burning people out," agrees one recruiting industry consultant. "The average 'half-life' of an engineer is about 20 years. For DP people, it's now only 11 years."

Positions in the IT world noted for high turnover and relentless pressure for results are VPs and CIOs. Top managers overseeing Windows NT shops report annual base salaries in the range of $60,000 to $100,000. This year's median CIO/VP annual salary is $80,000. With an average reported bonus of 9.5 percent, this brings typical total compensation to more than $87,000 a year.

CIOs overseeing ERP environments report median base salaries of $95,000 annually, or about 20 percent higher than the norm. CIOs in manufacturing enterprises are the most well-paid, with a median salary of $127,000 -- more than 50 percent higher than the typical CIO salary in this survey. In addition, the average bonus for CIOs in manufacturing operations was more than 18 percent of their base salaries. High-tech firms followed with 12 percent bonuses for their CIOs.

Overall, CIOs in the West had the highest salaries, at a median of $99,000, or 24 percent higher than the national figure. The highest reported salary in this survey was reported for the CIO of a West Coast-based consulting firm at $270,000, which includes a bonus. This site consists of Windows NT, Unix and AS/400 servers supporting data warehouses, multitier client/server computing and an intranet.

There is also a wide variance between CIOs of larger organizations vs. small companies. CIOs at larger companies (defined as 500 or more employees) draw as much as 12 percent more pay than their small-company counterparts. The gap is even more glaring when you compare the sizes of departments CIOs oversee. CIOs with larger departments (25 or more IS employees) draw almost 22 percent more salary of those with small operations.

Managing enterprisewide systems can be a complex but rewarding job. IS managers and directors overseeing ERP implementations report salaries of $67,700, up to 8 percent above the overall average for this level. Overall, salaries for managers and directors range between $50,000 and $79,000, with an average reported increase over the past year of 6.8 percent. This year's median manager/director annual salary is $62,500, along with an average reported bonus of 6.5 percent.

As with CIOs, managers in the Western United States made more than their counterparts in other regions of the country, with a median base salary of $70,000. In addition, IS managers in manufacturing enterprises saw the highest pay levels, at a median of $75,000, or 20 percent above the average. IS managers in high-tech organizations follow with median salaries of $70,000 a year. Bonuses for IS managers were highest at high-tech firms, averaging 12 percent of base salary.

Network Professionals
Network skills are hot, and this is reflected in the ranges seen by network professionals in the survey. Network administrators in the survey that work in Internet/intranet environments have median base salaries of $50,000, more than 5 percent above the average. Network administrators that handle multiple environments -- including Unix, intranets, Groupware and Novell - - commanded almost 25 percent more than the average, with a median annual base salary of more than $59,000.

Meta Group confirms that Web-related job openings have almost tripled over a year's time, with the growth of these jobs shifting from independent Web development shops to internal intranet applications teams. In addition, the scarcity of technical talent is forcing up salaries for certain mature skills. Networking engineers with TCP/IP experience are currently being paid 10 to 15 percent above the norm for that skill.

Network administrators in Windows NT shops have salaries in the range of $40,000 to $60,000. The typical network administrator in this survey made a base salary of $47,400, along with a 5.4 percent bonus, for a total compensation equaling almost $50,000. Overall, network administrators received average raises of 7.1 percent over the past year.A related discipline, Webmaster or Internet specialist, is garnering salaries in the range of $34,500 to $51,000. The median base salary for Webmasters was $45,000, along with a 5.8 percent average bonus.

Among all levels of programmers, Java reigns as a premium skill. Senior programmers working with Java make 15 percent more than other programmers, while entry- to intermediate-level Java programmers working with Java make up to 25 percent more than the norm. Programmers in C++ environments also have higher than average incomes. Java experience is among the most highly demanded Web technical skills, Meta Group confirms, predicting that demand for Java programmers will exceed supply over the next 2 to 3 years. Other in-demand skills include knowledge of ActiveX and use of rapid application development (RAD) tools.

Programmers familiar with ERP systems are also faring better than their counterparts: The median base salary for senior programmers is $51,500, or almost 12 percent above the average. For junior-level programmers working with both ERP and data warehouse systems, the premium is similar, with median salaries of $40,000. Entry or intermediate-level programmers (with less than 5 years experience) saw base salaries in the range of $32,500 to $45,000. This year, the medium annual salary for a junior programmer is $36,000, plus an average reported bonus of 5.5 percent, bringing average total monetary compensation to almost $38,000. Entry-level programmer salaries increased by 5.2 percent over the past year.

Senior-level programmers have base salaries between $38,500 and $53,000. This year's median senior programmer annual salary is $46,000, plus an average reported bonus of 6 percent, bringing average total monetary compensation to more than $48,500. Senior-level programmers saw salary hikes averaging 5.6 percent over the past year.

Programmer/analyst skills centering around mission-critical enterprise deployments command a high premium in the market. Senior-level programmer/analysts using C++ have above-average salaries, while Java expertise also has played a role in raising the salaries of entry-level or intermediate-level programmer/analysts. This is part of an industry trend also identified by Meta Group, which finds in its own surveys that substantial premiums, 20 to 35 percent, are going to developers with strong C++, Visual C++, PowerBuilder, Java, ActiveX and RAD experience.

Entry- or intermediate-level programmer/analysts (with less than 5 years experience) have base salaries in the range of $35,500 to $53,800. This year's median intermediate-level programmer/analyst annual salary is $41,000, plus an average reported bonus of 5.4 percent, bringing total monetary compensation to more than $43,200. Salary increases over the past year averaged 5.7 percent.

The survey finds salaries for senior-level programmer/analysts (with 5+ years experience) reaching $65,000 at the high end. The median senior programmer/analyst annual salary is $55,000, plus an average reported bonus of 5.2 percent, bringing total monetary compensation to almost $58,000. Senior programmer/analysts saw an average increase of 5.6 percent over the previous year.

As in most other job categories, the West pays the best, with programmer/analysts in this region earning 10 percent above the national median for this survey. Among industry groups, intermediate-level programmer/analysts in the utility/transportation sector draw a median salary of $48,000, or 17 percent higher than average.

System/Business Analysts
The base salaries of system or business analysts range between $42,000 and $70,000, with an average reported raise of 5.7 percent for the past year. Typical analysts in Windows NT environments make $55,000 a year, plus 8 percent bonus, bringing typical monetary compensation to more than $59,000.

Those analysts handling multitier client/server environments linking into host legacy systems tend to earn more than the median, exceeding typical salaries by more than 7 percent. Meta Group finds that SQL knowledge and experience can even command 10 to 15 percent premiums for full-time employees and more than $100-per-hour rates. Interestingly, the survey finds that salaries of analysts with ERP or data warehouse environments remain fairly consistent with the overall average.

Analysts in the manufacturing sector have the highest median salaries at $60,000, though service sector organizations follow at $59,100. Analysts at manufacturing and high-tech firms report bonuses of 10 percent over base salaries.

Database Professionals
Database administrators in enterprise-level environments are commanding much higher salaries than the average. For example, database administrators at ERP sites have median salaries of $58,000, ranging as high as $70,000 a year, or 16 percent above the norm. Likewise, those database administrators overseeing data warehouse environments have median salaries of $57,000.

Database professionals will be increasingly critical to Web development as data accessibility and integration across platforms and applications becomes critical to end users, according to Meta Group's analysis of salary trends. "As electronic commerce and extranets flourish over the next few years, organizations will seek more professionals with proven firewall and data security experience, and will look for content and technical developers with a security mentality," according to the report.

Current database administrator salaries range between $42,000 and $60,500. The median rate is $50,000, which equals about $53,000 when combined with a 6.1 percent average bonus. Database administrators also received average raises of 5.7 percent in 1997.

Respondents to the first annual ENT salary survey represent a wide range of environments and industries.

Ninety-one percent of participating companies run Windows NT at their sites, while 55 percent also support Unix systems. Another 22 percent have Digital's OpenVMS VAX- and Alpha-based systems.

Three out of four, 74 percent, deploy their systems in a file/print server capacity. Another 68 percent maintain Web servers or intranets, while 66 percent of the respondents maintain full-blown multitier client/server architectures linked to mainframe-class systems. Close to half, 46 percent, have groupware or messaging platforms. Almost a third, 32 percent, have ERP systems installed, and another 31 percent have a data warehouse or data mart.

Almost a third of the participants' companies, 31 percent, are in the service sector, which includes finance, insurance, real estate, health care and consulting. Another 27 percent fall into the high-tech category, which encompasses computer services, systems integrators, research and development, engineering, and computer manufacturing. Five out of ten respondents, 21 percent, come from governmental or educational institutions. Another 15 percent are with manufacturers (computer manufacturers were included in this category, as well), and 11 percent are in the utility/communication/transportation sector.

Geographically, 28 percent of the respondents are from the Northeast/mid-Atlantic region, and 22 percent are from the South. Another 20 percent are based in the Midwest. A quarter (25 percent) are based on the West Coast, with 5 percent from the Western Mountain states.