2004 IT Salary Survey: Salaries Stagnant For IT Staff

Salaries and bonuses for IT pros have stabilized or are growing slightly. In one position, they actually declined.

The good times may not be ready to roll again just quite yet, but at least salaries and bonuses for IT professionals appear to have stabilized, and even show some signs of slowly creeping upward. The past few years were tough on IT hiring and career advancement, but there were modest gains for most IT staff positions across the salary scale. For the most part -- unlike the go-go days of the late 1990s -- increases are in line with most other professions, averaging two to four percent. However, there are some hot growth spots for IT salaries, particularly in Unix environments, as well as in business-to-business and supply chain management applications.

These are the findings of a recent salary survey of 1,130 enterprise IT sites conducted by Enterprise Systems. The latest salary survey tracked salary figures for IT managers and professionals across a broad spectrum of organizations. Along with a range of management positions (to be covered in next week's salary report), our survey covered seven IT line positions, including applications systems analysts, programmer/analysts, application programmers, system programmers, network administrators, system administrators, and database administrators. (See our job description page for a list of the responsibilities of each position.)

A majority of respondents (78 percent) support Windows Server 2003, 2000, or NT server systems within their companies. Close to half of the survey participants (43 percent) report having mainframe systems, while 42 percent support Unix. Another 29 percent run IBM i5 (formerly known as iSeries or AS/400) systems, and 24 percent have Linux.

When it comes to IT staff pay, some IT organizations have been running so tight that they squeak. "We've had a pay freeze for three years running and no bonuses," said one respondent, a capacity and performance analyst with a Canadian information technology services firm. Another respondent laments: "We've had no raises at all in several years regardless of high marks at evaluation time. Some respondents report salary declines as high as 20percent over the past three years. Still other respondents report that many new opportunities have gone to outsourcing firms, while internal IT salaries have remained flat.

Survey respondents observe that salary gains tended to go to select groups. "Lesser-educated or -skilled employees have had their salaries reduced," said a systems/business analyst from a large Midwestern utility. "Better-educated and -skilled employees have not seen significant salary increases for about three years."


"Specialists are out, generalists are in," said another respondent, network manager with a financial services firm. "Those with diverse experience are commanding the highest salaries."

Note: N/A in the tables below indicates "not available" -- the question was not asked in our 2001 survey.

SYSTEMS ANALYSTS

Application systems analysts working in mainframe and Unix shops earn the highest salaries for this position, our survey finds. Systems analysts, who typically work with corporate management, end-users, and clients to plan and design systems, saw annual base salaries grow fairly conservatively, however. Currently, these IT professionals earn about $70,900, compared to $66,500 in the previous Enterprise Systems salary survey conducted in 2002. This translates into an increase of close to seven percent over a two-year period.

Across the board, system analysts are projected to earn bonuses of about $4,200 on top of their base salaries for this year -- the highest bonus for any of the IT line positions measured in this survey.

The typical systems analyst in our survey has about 10 years of industry experience. On average, seasoned system analysts with 10 or more years experience make up to 27 percent more than their less-experienced or entry-level counterparts. Systems analysts working with business-to-business infrastructures fare best ($75,500), followed closely by supply chain management systems ($75,400).

By operating system environment, systems analysts in mainframe shops fare best, drawing an average salary of $73,900 -- or more than four percent above the industry average. "People with skills in quality management and enterprise architecture development are currently our biggest growth areas," said the director of information systems for a major West Coast financial services company.

System analyst salaries are strongest within the services and software industries, averaging about $75,000.

SYSTEM ANALYST SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2004 2002 2001 Change 02-04
$70,900 $66,500 $66,000 +6.6%
Average annual bonus for 2004: $4,200

By Experience Level
<5> <10> 10+ years Differential
$58,800 $67,100 $74,900 +27.4%

By Operating System Environment
Mainframe OS/400 AIX/Unix Windows Non-Mainframe
Linux
$73,900 $68,800 $73,000 $68,800 $72,200

PROGRAMMER/ANALYST

Application programmer/analysts -- who develop applications and environments -- saw only a hiccup in salary growth since 2002, up about three-and-a-half percent from an average of $61,700 to $63,800. P/As are projected to also earn bonuses of about $3,400 this year -- or about five-and-a-half percent of their base salary.

The typical P/A in our survey has about nine years experience in the field. Long-term salary growth prospects appear good for professionals remaining in these positions, according to our survey. P/As with 10 or more years experience make 57 percent more than their less-seasoned counterparts. Along with system programmers (see below), this is the highest salary differential based on experience in the IT staff positions covered in this survey.

As with systems analysts, P/As working in companies with business-to-business and supply chain management environments saw the highest premiums, earning average base salaries of $66,700 in each category.

By development language environment, programmer/analysts in CICS shops fare best, drawing average salaries of $70,400, or ten percent above the overall average.

P/A salaries are strongest within the computer industry itself, averaging $71,900 within this sector.

PROGRAMMER/ANALYST SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2004 2002 2001 Change 02-04
$63,800 $61,700 $57,700 +3.4%
Average annual bonus for 2004: $3,400

By Experience Level
< 5=""> < 10=""> 10+ years Differential
$47,800 $61,100 $75,100 +57.1%

By Operating System Environment
Mainframe OS/400 AIX/Unix Windows Non-Mainframe
Linux
$70,300 $64,800 $66,200 $61,000 $58,400

By Programming Environment
CICS C/C++ COBOL VB Java XML
$70,400 $65,800 $65,400 $61,300 $64,200 $65,900

APPLICATIONS PROGRAMMER

Application programmers -- who are typically code writers and testers -- saw the largest jump in salaries across the IT staff positions covered in the survey. Programmers now average about $53,000 -- a rise of more than seven percent over the 2002 survey. Since many of these jobs tend to be entry-level, long-term career and salary growth in this category is limited, however. Application programmers that have remained in these positions for five to ten years or more only make about 20 percent more than their entry-level counterparts. The typical programmer in our survey has about six years of industry experience.

Programmers in Unix and OS/400 shops make the most, our survey finds, topping $57,000 a year in base salary. By development language environment, programmers in CICS and C/C++ shops fare best, drawing an average salary of $57,000 in both environments. Applications programmers working with XML also are seeing premiums in this range.

As with the previous categories, companies deploying and managing supply chain management and business-to-business systems had the most generous compensation, paying annual base salaries of $58,600 and $56,600 respectively. Application programming salaries are strongest within the retail and healthcare sectors, averaging $58,000. Across the board, programmers are projected to also earn bonuses of about $2,400, or about four percent of their base salaries for this year.

APPLICATIONS PROGRAMMER SALARIES
Year-to-Year Change
2004 2002 2001 Change 02-04
$53,000 $49,400 $49,200 +7.3%
Average annual bonus for 2004: $2,400

By Experience Level
< 5=""> < 10=""> 10+ years Differential
$47,100 $51,600 $57,200 +21.4%

By Operating System Environment
Mainframe OS/400 AIX/Unix Windows Non-Mainframe
Linux
$55,900 $57,300 $57,300 $51,300 $54,500

By Programming Environment
CICS C/C++ COBOL VB Java XML
$57,900 $57,400 $54,500 $53,100 $55,400 $57,200

SYSTEMS PROGRAMMER

For systems programmers, mainframe skills are hot, according to our respondents. Overall, however, salary growth has lagged other categories. Systems programmers -- who typically support the corporate infrastructure and networks -- are earning base salaries of about $70,400, or a 2.8 percent bump over the last survey in 2002.

Systems programmers are projected to also earn bonuses of about $3,000, or four percent of their base salaries for this year. The typical systems programmer in our survey may see tremendous salary growth throughout his or her career. Salaries range between $48,000 at entry level to $75,000 for more than a decade's worth of experience.

By development language environment, systems programmers in CICS and COBOL shops fare best, drawing average salaries of $73,000 and $72,000, respectively. "Annual increases are steadily declining, except for mainframes," said the technical support supervisor for a large energy company. "Mainframe skills are becoming increasingly scarce, and are starting to pay premium salaries."

Another respondent echoed a similar view. "Our company flattened salaries, and eliminated bonus pools across the board. Premiums now given for adaptability, and attitude over raw skills -- except for assembler language experience on mainframes."

Systems programmer salaries are strongest within the financial services and insurance sector, averaging $80,500 annually.

SYSTEMS PROGRAMMER SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2004 2002 2001 Change 02-04
$70,400 $68,500 N/A +2.8%
Average annual bonus for 2004: $3,000

By Experience Level
< 5=""> < 10=""> 10+ years Differential
$47,800 $61,100 $75,100 +57.1%

By Operating System Environment
Mainframe OS/400 AIX/Unix Windows Non-Mainframe
Linux
$74,100 $75,400 $72,800 $61,900 $76,200

By Programming Environment
CICS C/C++ COBOL VB Java XML
$73,100 $67,000 $72,400 $67,000 $70,000 $69,200

NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR

Today's companies are becoming more and more networked, steadily increasing the value of professionals that make this connectivity happen. Network administrators, who monitor and troubleshoot network usage, are earning base salaries of about $57,300 _ 6.5 percent growth over the last survey in 2002.

Network administrator salaries are strongest within the utilities and healthcare sectors, averaging $61,800 and $60,900, respectively. In terms of annual bonuses for this year, network administrators are projected to also earn about $2,000, or three-and-a-half percent of their base salaries. The typical network administrator in our survey has about eight years of industry experience, and seasoned network administrators are drawing salaries of up to $63,500.

"Cisco networking, Active Directory, and Unix are all skills drawing the highest premiums," said the manager of information systems for a Midwest-based telecommunications company. By environment, our respondents reported that network administrators in Unix shops fare best, drawing average salaries of $63,900 -- 11 percent above the average for the profession.

However, much of this depends on corporate priorities. "Our highest premiums going for newer skills such as Microsoft networking," said the director of information systems for a large midwestern university.

NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2004 2002 2001 Change 02-04
$57.300 $53,800 $56,000 +6.5%
Average annual bonus for 2004: $2,000

By Experience Level
< 5=""> < 10=""> 10+ years Differential
$46,900 $53,600 $63,500 +35.4%

By Network Environment
Ethernet Unix Linux Win 2000 Win 2003 Novell
$58,300 $63,900 $63,000 $57,000 $58,000 $58,000

BY NETWORK ENVIRONMENT Ethernet Unix Linux Win 2000 Win 2003 Novell $58,300 $63,900 $63,000 $57,000 $58,000 $58,000

SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR

System administrators were the only IT line position to actually see a decline in salary averages since the last survey, making this category the hardest-hit by the recent economic slump. System administrators, who deploy and maintain operating systems and servers, are earning base salaries of about $56,000 -- reflecting a decline of about 10 percent since the last survey in 2002.

Across the board, network administrators are projected to earn bonuses of about $1,800, or three percent of their base salaries for this year -- the lowest figure of the IT staff positions covered in this survey.

While systems administrators took a major hit in salary levels in recent years, there are some strong spots where these professionals are compensated above the industry average. "Storage/SAN skills hard to find and are demanding higher salaries," said a storage/SAN specialist with a major telecommunications provider. "It feels very much like the Unix sys admin shortage of the '90s." Interestingly, this demand still appears to be holding for Unix system administrators, with salaries averaging almost $62,000 at Unix sites in the survey _ 10 percent above the average.

System administrator salaries are strongest within the healthcare and services sectors, averaging $61,800 and $60,100, respectively. Salaries also above average for system administrators in application areas such as supply chain management systems ($60,000) and data warehouse installations ($59,000).

SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2004 2002 2001 Change 02-04
$56,000 $62,000 N/A -9.7%
Average annual bonus for 2004: $1,800

By Experience Level
< 5=""> < 10=""> 10+ years Differential
$48,800 $53,200 $61,600 +26.2%

By Operating System Environment
Mainframe OS/400 AIX/Unix Windows Non-Mainframe
Linux
$59,600 $50,500 $61,900 $54,800 $61,200

DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR

"Good DB engineers and DBAs are the hardest to find," said the CIO of a California-based financial services firm. "Our salaries have seen three to five percent growth this year."

If this respondent's company is a bellwether, then the near-term future looks bright for DBAs. Overall, DBAs, who oversee building and usage of company databases, make more than most IT line positions, but our survey finds that they have seen little movement in terms of salaries. They currently earn base salaries of about $71,400 -- reflecting virtually no change since the last Enterprise Systems survey in 2002.

Top-rate database skills premiums are paid to those who work with Sybase and IMS environments, the survey finds. Database administrator salaries are strongest within the software and application development sector, averaging $78,300, or about 10 percent above the industry average for DBAs. Across the board, DBAs are projected to also earn bonuses of about $3,600, or five percent of their base salaries for this year.

The typical DBA in our survey has about 11 years of industry experience, and salary growth prospects are excellent for this profession. Our results show a 52 percent differential based on experience -- from $50,100 a year at the entry level to $76,100 for a decade's worth of experience.

Most valuable skills are IT architect, data integration architect, and business intelligence (such as SAP Business Warehouse), reports the content management administrator for a large West Coast manufacturer. Supporting business-to-business application deployments is also a hot area for DBAs, the survey finds, drawing up to $78,000 a year.

DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2004 2002 2001 Change 02-04
$71,400 $71,500 $66,800 -0.1%
Average annual bonus for 2004: $3,600

By Experience Level
< 5=""> < 10=""> 10+ years Differential
$50,100 $66,500 $76,100 +51.9%

By Operating System Environment
Mainframe OS/400 AIX/Unix Windows Non-Mainframe
Linux
$74,800 $73,000 $78,700 $70,000 $81,500

By Database Environment
DB2 IMS Oracle SQL Server Sybase MySQL
$74,200 $76,700 $75,000 $70,900 $76,700 $71,700

Note: N/A indicates not available -- the question was not asked in our 2001 survey.



Complete IT Salary Survey:

Part 1: Salaries Stagnant for IT Staff
Part 2: IT Middle Managers Feel the Pain
Part 3: IT Follows Bicoastal Economy
Part 4: Complete Survey as PDF, including Section 4: Job Satisfaction; Short Registration Required