ESJ Salary Survey 2009 Part 2: Staff Salaries

In the second of our two-part report, we look at compensation growth for professional positions

Economic conditions of the past year have greatly depressed information technology staff salaries over the past year, and the new Enterprise Systems salary survey finds declines in base compensation across most positions. Salaries for six out of seven key developer, analyst, and administrator positions are down from last year, while only one experienced an increase. IT staff positions took large hits in bonuses this year -- five saw decreases in their average bonuses, while only two saw increases. Some of the bonus cuts were sizeable.

While companies are wrestling with tighter IT budgets, security is a vital concern, and this is reflected in the pay rates for security professionals. Security administrators are exceptions to this general stagnation in IT staff salaries, with these professionals seeing a modest salary increase over the past year. However, as is the case with most IT professionals and managers, security administrators saw declines in their bonuses over the past year.

These findings are based on an Enterprise Systems survey of 631 companies, conducted in May 2009. Six out of eight key management positions covered in the latest Enterprise Systems salary survey saw increases in their salary levels, while only two saw decreases.

The economic climate also hit management personnel salaries, but not as hard as those of IT staff, the survey finds. We explored salary data for IT management positions in the first article in this series. The survey covered seven key IT staff positions, along with eight key management positions.

The survey found that IT developers, analysts, and administrators at midrange and mainframe sites tended to have the highest salary rates. Also, IT staff members in business-to-business and supply-chain management environments tend to see much lower rates.

At some companies, there has been considerable pain. “Opportunities within IT are dwindling, as budgets have been cut by 20% to 35% within our IT departments across the top,” one respondent laments. “Senior management has instructed manager to lay off team members.”

Another respondent noted that his company saw no increase in compensation this year, but that rewards are still going to those with the widest breadth of skills. “The skills that are drawing the highest premiums is flexibility and some knowledge of all applications,” he comments. “Ability to learn and troubleshoot any platform” is key.

Along with the economy, outsourcing has also had an impact on job opportunities. “Programmers are becoming a commodity, especially in a global sourced environment,” one respondent observes. “The ability to translate business needs into clear functional requirements is becoming paramount.”

However, while outsourcing remains a threat to programming positions, there may be a silver lining to the reduced salary rates being paid. As one respondent put it: “I see the outsourcing/offshoring slowing as the native resources salaries have dropped considerably and the delta between onshore and offshore resource salaries has shrunk considerably.”

Note: The positions of Systems Programmer and Storage Administrator, included in last year's survey, did not have sufficient numbers of responses to be included in this year's results.


SYSTEMS ANALYSTS

As is the case with most IT staff positions this year, the economy has caused some erosion on systems analyst salaries. Salaries for these professionals are down by five percent, on average, from a year ago, and average bonuses have dropped substantially. In the past three surveys going back to 2006, these professionals saw some salary growth from year to year.

Overall, systems analysts -- who typically work with corporate management, end users, and clients to plan and design systems -- earn about $71,000 in base salary, down from close to $75,000 in the survey a year ago. Systems analysts are the third-highest income category among the seven line IT positions in our survey, after security administrators and database administrators.

System analysts are projected to also earn bonuses close to $3,300 on top of their base salaries for this year. This is down by about 21% from the average of $4,200 last year. On average, systems analysts earned the second highest bonuses of the seven IT line positions surveyed.

The typical systems analyst in our survey has about 11 years of industry experience. On average, seasoned system analysts with 10 or more years experience earn up to 40% more than their less-experienced or entry-level counterparts.


SYSTEM ANALYST SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$70,960 $74,700 $72,150 $70,500 $67,900 $70,900 $66,500 $66,000 -5.0% +7.5%

Average Annual Bonus
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$3,300 $4,190 $3,200 $3,500 $4,100 $4,200 $2,920 $4,290 -21.2 -23.1%

By Experience Level
<5 5-9 years 10+ years Differential
$55,400 $64,400 $77,500 +40.0%


PROGRAMMER/ANALYST

Salaries for application programmer/analysts -- who develop applications and associated environments -- have declined with most other IT staff positions over the past year, our survey finds. Average base salaries are down by almost six percent, from an average of $71,700 to $67,600. Previous years of salary growth were tepid, one percent last year, down from five percent the year before.

Programmer/analysts are the fourth-highest income category among the seven line IT positions in our survey, led by security administrators, database administrators, and systems analysts.

Bonuses for P/As have dropped significantly over the past year. This year, the average bonus awarded to P/As was $2,200, down by 53% up from $4,600 in last year’s survey. P/As draw the lowest average bonuses of any IT staff position covered in the survey.

On average, the P/As covered in our survey have about nine years' experience. However, salaries do not grow appreciably over the course of a career.


PROGRAMMER ANALYST SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 1-year change 7-year change
$67,600 $71,700 $71,020 $67,400 $65,200 $63,800 $61,700 -5.7% +9.6%

Average Annual Bonus
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 1-year change 7-year change
$2,180 $4,610 $3,410 $3,400 $3,400 $3,375 $2,460 -52.7% -11.4%

By Experience Level
<5 5-9 years 10+ years Differential
$66,000 $66,700 $69,100 +4.7%


APPLICATIONS PROGRAMMER

Application programmers -- typically those who write and test code -- took a hit in their salary levels this year just as most other IT staff professionals. Along with fallout from the turbulent economy, programmers also face threats from outsourcing, and shifts toward more automated or streamlined methods of application development.

Application programmers now average close to $62,000 a year in base salaries, down by four percent from last year's figure of almost $65,000. As has been the case in previous years, programmers are the lowest-ranked income category among the seven line IT positions in our survey.

However, unlike most other IT staff positions, application programmers saw an increase in their bonuses, which increased by close to three percent. The average bonus awarded to these programmers was about $2,600.

Programmers who have remained in this position for 10 years or more make about 35 percent more than their entry-level counterparts. The typical programmer in our survey has about 10 years of industry experience.


APPLICATIONS PROGRAMMER SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$62,000 $64,600 $63,000 $61,400 $56,500 $53,000 $49,400 $49,200 -4.0% +26.0%

Average Annual Bonus
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$2,610 $2,540 $2,890 $2,700 $2,665 $2,400 $2,600 $3,150 +2.8% -17.1%

By Experience Level
<5 5-9 years 10+ years Differential
$53,400 $63,300 $72,000 +34.8%


NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR

The economy has also hit the base salaries of network administrators, who monitor and troubleshoot network usage, our survey shows. These professionals now earn average annual base salaries of almost $63,000, down four percent from a year ago. Last year, network administrators’ saw a modest uptick in salaries.

Since this survey series was first launched in 2001, network administrator salaries have grown by 12 percent. Network administrators remain the second-lowest salary category of the seven positions measured in the survey.

Annual average bonuses for network administrators were down, but not as dramatically as those for other IT staff professionals. Network administrators saw an average bonus of $2,300, down from up from $2,600 a year ago. Network administrators rank sixth on the list of seven positions in terms of bonus compensation, only ahead of programmer/analysts.

On average, network administrators in our survey have about 18 years of experience. The more experienced network administrators (with a decade or more of experience) are drawing salaries if at more than $63,000, or seven percent more than their less-experienced counterparts.


NETWORK ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$62,700 $65,500 $61,900 $61,300 $59,300 $57,300 $53,800 $56,000 -4.3% +12.0%

Average Annual Bonus
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$2,280 $2,600 $2,100 $2,600 $2,500 $2,000 $1,660 $3,150 -12.3% -27.6%

By Experience Level
<5 5-9 years 10+ years Differential
Insufficient
data
$59,400 $63,500 +6.9%


SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR

Systems administrators, who deploy and maintain operating systems and servers, received slightly less in annual salaries this year, our survey finds. System administrators in the survey averaged close to $65,000 in base salaries, down by about two percent from last year's survey. Overall, professionals in this position have seen very little appreciable salary growth -- barely totaling four percent -- since Enterprise Systems included this category in the salary survey in 2002.

System administrators' salaries rank fifth on the list of seven IT line positions covered in this year’s survey.

Unlike most IT staff positions in this survey, systems administrators received an appreciable bonus this year over last. The average annual bonus awarded was $2,700, up more than 20 percent over last year's figure of about $2,200. Systems administrators rank third on the list of seven IT staff positions in terms of bonus levels.

Systems administrators with more than a decade’s worth of experience are also handsomely rewarded for their expertise, the survey shows. Experienced systems administrators make more than twice what their entry-level counterparts earn.


SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 1-year change 7-year change
$64,700 $65,900 $64,700 $61,600 $60,500 $56,000 $62,000 -1.8% +4.4%

Average Annual Bonus
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 1-year change 7-year change
$2,700 $2,220 $2,170 $3,000 $2,600 $1,800 $2,480 +21.6% +8.9%

By Experience Level
<5 5-9 years 10+ years Differential
$42,200 $61,200 $87,700 +105.5%


DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR

DBAs, who oversee building and use of company databases, saw significant declines in their annual average salaries, down eight percent from last year’s survey. The survey finds average base salaries for DBAs at about $75,000, settling at its 2007 level following a spike to $81,000. DBAs are the second-ranked position in the survey of seven IT staff positions.

Overall, while DBA salaries continually rank among the highest among IT staff positions, there has been little movement since the first survey in 2001. Some respondents state that salary prospects for database administrators are highly segmented, with certain skill areas seeing the highest rewards from employers. “Skills drawing the highest premiums or with potential include Oracle and SQL Server database administration,” says one manager.

These premiums may be reflected more in bonuses and perks than in base salary rates. While DBA salaries are foundering, companies have compensated with generous bonus increases this year. DBAs are projected to earn bonuses close to $5,200, up by more than 40 percent from our survey a year ago. This is the highest bonus level on the list of seven IT staff positions, and the greatest bonus increase.

The typical DBA in our survey has close to nine years of industry experience. Entry-level DBAs start at about $67,000, and then rise by about a third to almost $89,000 for those with at least a decade of experience.


DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES

Year-to-Year Change
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$74,800 $81,200 $75,050 $75,500 $70,500 $71,400 $71,500 $66,800 -7.9% +12.0%

Average Annual Bonus
2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2002 2001 1-year change 8-year change
$5,180 $3,670 $3,100 $3,800 $3,750 $3,600 $3,360 $5,350 +41.1% -3.2%

By Experience Level
<5 5-9 years 10+ years Differential
Insufficient
data
$66,900 $89,200 +33.3%


SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR

There’s no question that companies place security high on their priority lists, and will pay top dollar to professional that can assure this. Security administrators bucked the downward trend in IT staff salaries over the past year, with more than three percent growth. Security administrators, who oversee the installation, configuration, and management of tools and policies that protect corporate data assets, are making an average base salary of close to $78,000, up from $75,200.

Security administrators’ base salary levels top the list of seven IT staff positions covered in the survey, reflecting the urgency and priority many organizations are placing on data and systems security.

Security professionals do not tend to see generous bonuses, however -- perhaps because their efforts do not contribute directly to projects that ensure new business growth. Employers scaled back on security administrators’ bonus levels, in line with most IT positions, the survey finds. Average annual bonuses were $2,400 this year, down from $3,300. This is the fifth-highest level for bonuses for the seven line positions.


SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES
Year-to-Year Change
2009 2008 1-year change
$77,800 $75,200 +3.5%

Average Annual Bonus
2009 2008 1-year change
$2,380 $3,330 -28.5%



OPERATING SYSTEM AND APPLICATION ENVIRONMENTS

Developers and analysts (including systems analysts, application programmer/analysts, application programmers, systems programmers*) that are part of midrange-class operations (such as IBM System i infrastructures) are seeing the highest annual salaries, bringing in average base salaries of close to $87,000 a year. Those at mainframe sites followed with close to $82,000. Those developers and analysts working at more distributed computing sites had the lower salary ranges. Those overseeing Windows environments (with no mainframes), for example, averaged about 74,000 a year. Programmers and analysts at Unix-based sites followed closely at $73,000. Those at Linux-centric sites (with no mainframes) had the lowest annual rate, at about $66,000 a year.

By application level, developers and analysts charged with extending systems beyond the walls of the enterprise to outside parties were more likely to command higher base salaries. Those at sites with business-to-business environments drew the highest base salaries, averaging close to $77,000 a year, our survey finds. Executives with supply-chain management environments followed at about $76,000, and enterprise data warehouse environments at close to $73,000. B-to-B and supply chain sites were also the highest-paying environments for management-level positions, as shown in Part 1 of this report.

Among administrators covered in the survey (including network administrators, systems administrators, database administrators, security administrators, and storage administrators*), those charged with midrange-class system environments had the highest average base salaries -- averaging more than $75,000 Administrators at mainframe sites averaged $71,000, while those at Linux sites followed closely with $70,000. Windows site administrators (with no mainframes present) occupied the low end of the pay scale, averaging about $67,000.

Administrators charged with maintaining the resiliency of enterprise data warehouse environments are the best compensated, with salaries averaging $72,000. Administrators at sites with supply-chain management systems average $63,000, and those at ERP or enterprise application sites draw base salaries of $62,000.

(* Break-out results for systems programmers and storage administrators was not available due to insufficient responses for these positions.)



DEVELOPER/ANALYST SALARIES (SYS ANALYST, P/A, PROG, SYS PROG)


By Operating System Environment
Midrange Mainframe AIX/Unix Windows
(Non-Mainframe)
Linux Only
(Non-Mainframe)
$86,950 $81,595 $73,212 $73,966 $66,143


By Application Environment
B2B Supply Chain Data Warehouse B2C ERP CRM
$76,900 $76,300 $72,650 $70,800 $68,300 $65,500



ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES (NET ADM, SYS ADMN, DBA)


By Operating System Environment
Midrange Mainframe Linux Only
(Non-Mainframe)
AIX/Unix Windows
(Non-Mainframe)
$75,317 $70,857 $70,242 $69,513 $66,658


By Application Environment
Data Warehouse Supply Chain ERP B2B CRM B2C
$71,800 $62,900 $61,700 $60,900 $59,700 $58,000