IT executive salaries beat business counterparts

Senior executives in the IT world are getting higher pay increases than those in the general business world, according to PA Consulting Group's latest salary survey. However, many other IT positions are receiving increases below the average. The average base salary movement for senior IT executives who have been in the job for 12 months or more was 6.5%.

Senior executives in the IT world are getting higher pay increases than those in the general business world, according to PA Consulting Group’s latest salary survey.

However, many other IT positions are receiving increases below the average.

The average base salary movement for senior IT executives who have been in the job for 12 months or more was 6.5%.

The survey also measures the market median value for jobs, which takes into account people leaving and being replaced.

PA Consulting Group’s HR team leader, Kevin McBride, says it’s a better measure of market value of the job. That figure for senior executives in IT is 6.8%.

“It indicates there’s a degree of premium being paid for those in the market at the moment because, in comparison, the average base salary movement for all top executives is 5.3% and the market median for all top executives was 1.6%.”

However, the comparison isn’t so good when you look further down the hierarchy in IT.

The average base salary movement for people in IT positions other than senior executives was only marginally ahead of the general staff pack, with 4.6% for those in IT compared to 4.4% for all general staff.

The news is worse when looking at the market median movement. For those in IT it’s just 1.5% compared to 3.3% for general staff overall.

McBride says there may be increases where there is demand in certain IT jobs, but that is offset by stability in the basic entry-level of positions.

“For example, the movement for a project manager in the IT field is 4.6%, which is above the average for general staff. That’s not surprising given the emphasis on Y2K exercises.”

Senior programmers are another group experiencing salary movements above the average at 4.9%, as are analyst-programmers at 9.1%.

Positions which are below the average and drag the IT figure down include junior systems analyst (the salary movement is stable), development managers (2.2%), junior programmers (2.7%) and operations managers (2.2%).

McBride says it’s not surprising that more junior positions have lower figures, as people have to prove themselves before they can command the higher salaries. He says the increases are similar to those in past years.

“The reality is that in terms of average increases you can get proportionately larger increases in the IT area than you can in many other areas and that’s partially driven by the high turnover. Organisations, in an attempt to keep key people, will offer the carrot of an extra increase.”

McBride says organisations are continuing to remain cautious when forecasting future movements.

PA Consulting does not release actual salary figures to the media. However, Computerworld ran an informal survey of IT staff recently. One respondent says IS managers have a median salary of about $65,000, while the median salary for senior executives in IT is about $88,000. Figures for those in provincial areas are slightly lower.

Some respondents commented that the perception of high salaries was not correct. Many pointed out the difference between salaries of people in rural areas compared to cities.

Said one: “If you want a bigger salary, work in Wellington or Auckland. If there are other things in life that are more important (but harder to quantify) such as quality of life, no commute, etc, then be prepared to make some kind of compromise.”

A systems development manager commented that the people in the industry who chase “the big bucks” usually lose their families in their mid- to late-thirties. He says they often divorce because they haven’t spent enough time with their families.

“Another tendency is for highly qualified IT people to have appalling personality quirks and a lack of ability to market themselves,” he says.

The type of industry worked in is also a major factor. Some respondents commented that local authorities usually don’t pay well.

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