Kiwis could enjoy Canadian bacon

Computerworld journalist Darren Greenwood checks out payscales for IT professionals in Canada.

For Kiwis looking at jobs North America, Canada may bring home the bacon.

The economy is growing healthily, and while its climate is colder the country may offer a better lifestyle than the US. As Canada similarly loses skilled staff to its larger neighbour because of higher wages, opportunities are created for workers for other countries such as Kiwis, assuming they can legally work.

Official statistics suggest programmers and developers are enjoying annual pay increases of 10%-12% in both countries but US firms were also offering more perks and more challenging work. Canada's Software Human Resource Council last year studied the differing salaries between the two countries for 24 high-tech occupations.

The report says while Canadian firms have previously managed to keep pace with US wages, this might not always be the case. However, council president Paul Swinwood says Canadian firms must bear the costs of paying higher wages. "Canada is part of the global economy, and if we're going to be competing globally, we'll have to grow in step with the biggest user of these skills, the Americans," he says.

Figures from IT Professional magazine show the country has some catching up to do - even if the figures date from 1998. In 1998, an IS director earned $C55-$C70k ($90,200-$115,000). In systems and programming, a manager earned $C62-$C80k; project manager $C55-$C64k; project leader $C45-$C55k; systems analyst $C40-$C56k; programmer analyst $C42-$C54k; and programmer $C28-$C36k.

Given wage inflation, we may expect these rates to increase by 20%; and salaries are likely to be higher at larger firms. While the Canadian dollar is much weaker than the American, this will probably make Canada a cheaper country to live in, even if living standards will on average be lower than America's.

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