2007 ESJ Salary Survey, Part 4: IT Pros Worry Less But Are Disenchanted

Though IT salaries have grown, IT professionals' satisfaction with both their jobs and salary hasn't budged much

By: The Enterprise Systems Staff


Do better economic times spur a sense of “wanderlust” among working professionals about their jobs? While the latest Enterprise Systems survey finds that most salaries for 16 key IT positions measured on a year-to-year basis have improved significantly, IT professionals are more dissatisfied than ever with both their jobs and salary levels. It may be that that the increasing opportunities professionals see around them are creating greater urges to seek new positions. In addition, better economic conditions result in more project work, thereby increasing burdens on overworked departments. Most of the professionals and managers responding to this survey already work more than 40-hour weeks.

“New expansion of services is increasing our workload, but not increasing salary levels,” said one respondent, echoing the views of many. “Salary levels and increases are based on general increases rather than performance or skills. IT is kept at low end of pay scale and viewed as a support function.”

Still, as shown below, a majority of respondents feel comfortable about their jobs and salaries. “We're hiring like mad,” said one manager. “I have a hard time finding good people at any price. Raises have been good to retain existing staff, and new team members this year come in at a higher salary than folks at the same level one or two years ago.”

About 67 percent of respondents say they are in the same position as a year ago, about the same as a year ago (65 percent at that time). A substantial segment of respondents also report they are moving up in their organizations. About 20 percent report that they were recently promoted, also about the same as a year ago (19 percent at that time). Another nine percent report they made a lateral move -- down slightly from 11 percent in last year’s survey.

The average length of time respondents have been employed in their current position is 6.3 years, and 8.2 years with their current employer. This is unchanged from a year ago.


THE URGE TO MOVE

However, the time may have come that more IT professionals and managers will be pulling up stakes in search of greater opportunities in the fast-growing technology marketplace. The survey finds that salary and job dissatisfaction is on the rise -- both among managers and IT staffers. And this dissatisfaction has been steadily increasing in the six years this survey has been conducted -- as the economic picture has grown brighter.

About 56 percent say they are satisfied, to some degree, with their salaries and compensation. This is down from 58 percent last year and 63 percent in 2001, the first time this survey was conducted (see Table 1).

In fact, there has been a noticeable plunge in the percentage of respondents that consider themselves to be “extremely” satisfied with their salary levels -- from 12 percent a year ago to nine percent in the current survey.

Conversely, more than a third of respondents, 36 percent, are dissatisfied with their salaries. This is up from 34 percent last year, and 31 percent in 2001. About one in ten say they are “extremely” dissatisfied with their salaries.

“We are experiencing a salary freeze, only promotional increases are being granted,” one respondent lamented. Another stated that “salary rates are mandated regardless of function. Basically there are only cost-of-living increases this year.”

Another respondent noted that a realignment of his corporate pay scales to a “broadband” arrangement -- where compensation falls into a range for each position -- have limited salaries. “The only raises we get are for promotions and standard of living. We are to get raises for above-expectation work, but it never happens.”

Not surprisingly, management-level employees tend to be more likely to be satisfied with their pay than IT line staff. Sixty percent of managers responding to the survey say they are satisfied with their compensation, compared to 55 percent of staff members (see Table 2).

When looking at satisfaction levels by platform, the survey finds disenchantment growing in the ranks of large systems staff. As shown in Table 3, respondents at midrange systems sites were far more likely to express dissatisfaction with their compensation (40 percent, up from 37 percent last year). Respondents at Unix sites followed with 38 percent, and 37 percent of mainframers said they were dissatisfied with their salary rates.

Though the survey shows them to have the lowest salary ranges across the survey, respondents working at purely distributed sites were the least inclined to express dissatisfaction with their pay levels. In fact, only 33 percent of those working at Linux sites were dissatisfied with their compensation.

For some respondents, corporate evaluations of the changing dynamics of the IT market may provide relief as well. “There is going to be a survey of the salaries of the employees in our IT division this year,” said one respondent. “Our job descriptions are being revamped to describe specific skills for each position. This should give rise to higher salaries for employees.”

As shown in Table 4, about 71 percent said they were satisfied with their jobs in general, a level down somewhat than previous years.




TABLE 1: SALARY SATISFACTION
 200120022004200520062007
Extremely satisfied 11%13%12%14%12%9%
Somewhat satisfied 52%48%46%47%46%47%
Somewhat dissatisfied 24%25%25%25%26%26%
Extremely dissatisfied 7%6%8%8%8%10%

TABLE 2: SALARY SATISFACTION -- BY JOB LEVEL
 STAFFMANAGER
 2006200720062007
Extremely satisfied13%10%17%9%
Somewhat satisfied44%45%50%51%
Somewhat dissatisfied28%29%25%24%
Extremely dissatisfied10%10%5%9%

TABLE 3: SALARY DISSATISFACTION -- BY PLATFORM
 200520062007
Mainframe30%32%37%
Midrange30%37%40%
AIX/Unix32%31%38%
Windows*34%35%35%
Linux*35%35%33%

*Non-mainframe sites only

TABLE 4: JOB SATISFACTION
 20012004200520062007
Satisfied79%72%75%72%71%
Dissatisfied15%22%20%22%22%


LESS INSECURITY

As found in previous surveys, for the most part, survey respondents feel secure about their jobs. In fact, security among IT professionals has increased over the past year, to the point where close to nine out of ten report feeling a sense of job security. This is up from 81 percent last year. As shown in Table 5, IT staffers now feel as equally secure about their positions as do their managers, reflecting the general economic health and robust IT budgets.

Mainframe and Unix professionals continue to experience slightly lower levels of job security than their counterparts on other platforms, the survey finds. However, it’s worthy to note that large majorities in each category report that they do feel their jobs are secure, and these levels have risen significantly over the past year. For example, 85 percent of respondents in mainframe sites feel that their jobs are secure -- up from 75 percent a year ago. Likewise, 85 percent of respondents in Unix shops report job security, up from 79 percent in last year’s survey. The highest levels of job security are reported among professionals and managers at distributed Linux sites -- 89 percent. (See Table 6.)

There has been some diminishing of anxiety over outsourcing -- especially among staff professionals, the survey also finds. This year, 20 percent of line IT staff members say they fear their jobs may be outsourced, down from 24 percent a year ago. However, there has been a bump in outsourcing fears among managers -- 20 percent say their jobs may be outsourced, up from 18 percent a year ago. (See Table 7.)

Outsourcing fears continue to run greatest among mainframe and Unix site professionals and managers, as shown in Table 8. However, as with job security overall, there has been a notable improvement in perception. Overall, those respondents working at Windows sites (with no mainframe present) are the least likely to be concerned about outsourcing -- only 16 percent indicated such fears, a drop from 19 percent in last year’s survey.

However, many respondents still express dismay at the trend to outsource large amounts of IT work to third-party firms that may not be able to fully address their business’s requirements. “Competing with the ‘body shops’ is killing the industry,” one respondent commented. “We’re competing against short-term consultants without the proper credentials. That’s one reason some 80 percent of IT projects fail.”


TABLE 5: PERCEIVED JOB SECURITY
 STAFFMANAGER
 2006200720062007
Insecure17%12%14%12%
Secure81%87%84%87%

TABLE 6: PERCEIVED JOB SECRUTY -- BY PLATFORM
 200520062007
Mainframe76%75%85%
Midrange82%76%88%
AIX/Unix82%79%85%
Windows*87%84%88%
Linux*87%83%89%

*Non-mainframe sites only

TABLE 7: PERCEIVED LIKELIHOOD OF JOB BEING OUTSOURCED
 STAFFMANAGER
 2006200720062007
Likely24%20%18%20%
Unlikely71%76%77%76%

TABLE 8: PERCEIVED LIKELIHOOD OF JOB BEING OUTSOURCED -- BY PLATFORM
 200520062007
Mainframe24%28%23%
Midrange21%28%20%
AIX/Unix23%25%21%
Windows*19%19%16%
Linux*23%18%19%
*Non-mainframe sites only


HOURS

While IT professionals and managers put in more than their share of hours to the job, these levels have remained fairly constant over the past year. This year, managers report putting in about 47 hours a week on the job; staff members put in more than 43 hours. (See Table 9.)

As has been the trend in previous surveys, the IT professional continues to be dominated by men. In this survey, 86 percent of the respondents are male, and 14 percent female -- reflecting little change over the past year. The management ranks represented in this survey also continue to be dominated by men -- 89 percent. This has not changed since last year’s survey.


TABLE 9: AVERAGE HOURS WORKED PER WEEK
STAFFMANAGER
2006200720062007
43.743.448.547.0