IT salaries slip despite upbeat outlook

SINGAPORE (12/05/2003) - For all the upbeat sentiments on Wall Street and equally rosy forecasts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which suggest that global economic recovery is well underway, IT salaries in Singapore are still dipping downwards.

According to findings from the 2003 Computerworld Singapore annual salary survey, except for infrastructure and networking jobs, median salaries for most other IT roles were lower than the 2002 levels.

These roles include technical support roles, application developers, database administrators, information systems managers and systems analysts. The median monthly salary for an IT support officer, for example, dropped from S$2,800 (US$1,630) in 2002 to S$2,500 this year, while IS managers took home a median salary of S$5,600 compared with last year's S$6,000.

However, infrastructure and network managers and network engineers saw an increase in their monthly median pay checks with their pay scales recovering back to the 2001 level. For the infrastructure and network managers, median pay increased from S$5,500 to S$5,850 while the network engineers have seen their pay increase from S$3,000 to S$3,600. Systems and network administrators, too, saw their median salaries go up from S$2,500 to S$3,000.

The salary survey is conducted every year to establish a benchmark for the remuneration of IS professionals in Singapore. This year, it was sent out in October and about 310 readers responded.

The results do reflect the general job market situation in Singapore, said Rosemary Chisholm, chief executive officer of Kapient, a regional recruiting firm that specializes in technology, banking and finance verticals in the Asia Pacific.

Overall, though, Chisholm felt that the job market is improving, mainly for people in the 27 to 35 age bracket.

"These are individuals who are in their 'prime' and are still hands-on. Companies will pay to retain individuals who add value and contribute to the bottom-line," she said.

She also believes that the job market for the top positions will remain static for the next year, whilst organizations are going through change and having to adapt in order to survive in the evolving market place.

For these top IT jobs -- IT director, chief technology officer and chief information officer -- monthly median pay dipped slightly from S$9,400 to S$9,325.

On the bright side, Chisholm noted that in the last 12 months, a number of foreign financial institutions have chosen to relocate some of their global back office operations in Singapore.

"We will see an increase in IT staffing requirements over the next 12 months. IT professionals with good business knowledge should see an improvement in the job market, whilst traditional skills in RDBMS and infrastructure management will still continue to be in demand," she said.

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