Economic Downturn Dampens Salary Increases

Study finds professional certifications more likely to bring larger raises

According to a new salary study by online skills assessment specialist Brainbench, most IT workers received very little in the way of salary increases in 2002. Moreover, Brainbench indicates, the percentage of women who earn as much as men fell in every salary category over $40,000 last year.

Among its other findings: IT workers with certifications were more likely than those without to be rewarded with bigger salary increases.

Brainbench’s 2002 Salary Study is based on data collected from more than 6,000 survey respondents, two-thirds of whom were male. The salary survey covers a variety of different trends, including year-over-year salary increase data from 2001 to 2002; male and female salary levels in key IT disciplines; salary increase rankings on a per-industry basis; the role of IT certifications in salary increases; and the typical size of compensation packages that augment salary increases.

In 2002, 67 percent of survey respondents reported receiving salary increases of three percent or less. By contrast, the company’s 2001 Salary Study found that 52 percent of respondents reported salary increases of zero to three percent. In 2000, at the height of the Internet boom, 62 percent of respondents received salary increases of three percent or greater.

In the 2001 study, Brainbench found that women achieved virtual parity with men in most salary categories and even outpaced men in companies with more than $1 billion in revenue. In 2002, the company indicated, women lost ground even in large organizations in which they’d typically fared best.

Paltry salary increases in 2002 translate into pessimism with respect to the prospects for salary gains in 2003, as many respondents—42 percent—anticipate that they’ll receive salary increases in the neighborhood of zero to three percent this year. Thirty percent expect to receive salary increases of three to five percent, down from more than 50 percent in 2001.

Brainbench found that workers who obtain IT certifications are significantly more likely to be rewarded with salary increases above the industry averages of one to five percent.

Many firms didn’t offer additional compensation in 2002, but large organizations (those with more than $1 billion in revenue) and small organizations (less than $1 million) were more likely to offer such compensation. IT workers in the computer industry consistently fared better than their colleagues in other industries in terms of salary increases. Workers in healthcare, education or training, and financial services also fared better than normal.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.