IT salaries creeping up in 2011, mood mostly positive

The average IT salary in 2010 for senior IT executives, mid-level IT executives and IT managers was $121,797, according to our annual CIO Salary and Careers Survey, taken in November.

This is a $10,000-plus drop from the average IT salaries of the 952 senior, mid-level and IT manager professionals we polled in 2009 (when the average was $132,203). But this is not an apples-to-apples comparison as, year over year, the respondents to the survey are not the same individuals, and the number of respondents within each IT job category also changes.

Disclaimer aside, the 921 respondents to our most recent survey are making less money than the respondents to our survey in 2009 but, on a brighter note, this year’s group of respondents did see salary increases.

When asked about their IT salaries in 2010 compared to 2009, mid-level IT directors said they saw the biggest bump, a 4.3% increase from an average salary of $116,976 in 2009 to $121,979 in 2010. Senior IT executives saw an average increase of 1.7% ($145,899 in 2009, versus $148,380 in 2010). IT managers’ raises were miniscule in comparison, only .3% ($94,744 in 2009 and $95,032 in 2010).

So it would seem that mid-level IT management is not a bad place to be. But senior-level IT executives are expecting the biggest pay raise as we move into 2011 — a 5.3% increase.

Mid-level IT executives, meanwhile, predict a 4.5% pay raise in 2011, and IT managers a 4.1% increase.

Broken out by industry, senior IT executives’ IT salaries in the financial services sector increased by 15.2% in 2010 to $152,437 compared to 2009, and these executives expect a 4.4% pay hike in 2011. On the other end of the spectrum, IT salaries for senior IT executives in health care saw their pay drop by 7.3% to an average $142,686 in 2010.

The government sector was not a good place to be as far as IT salaries for mid-level IT managers. Compared to 2009, their salaries dropped by 7.3% in 2010 to $109,278.

Mood by industry

Despite seeing the biggest drops in salaries, IT professionals in health care and government sectors are not the most pessimistic. Granted, when you start to break the numbers down by industry, the stats become a bit more anecdotal due to their smaller sample sizes in comparison to overall respondents. Of the 100 IT professionals in the health care sector asked about the mood in their organization, 38% were pessimistic, 30% optimistic and 32% neutral. Of the 88 government sector respondents, 42% were pessimistic, 32% optimistic and 26% neutral.

The 22 IT folks in the entertainment sector that answered our question about the mood in their organization were the most pessimistic: 64%.

But overall, 72% of senior IT executives, 65% of mid-level IT directors and 61% of IT managers rate the mood at their organizations as neutral or optimistic as Senior News Writer Linda Tucci points out in her story on how IT salaries vary by industry.

Another optimistic sign? IT budgets are expected to grow by about 2.8% this year, according to 2,300 respondents from around the world (excluding China) to TechTarget’s 2011 IT Priorities Survey.

Anecdotally, IT professionals I’ve been talking to lately are on the hunt to hire: One data center manager is looking for several virtualization experts (a hot commodity) and a small consulting firm just hired a new expert.

The conversations I’ve had during the year also gradually turned from a lead focus on cost cutting to prioritizing projects that have been put off. This doesn’t necessarily mean that controlling costs isn’t still paramount, but it is yet another sign that the outlook for 2011 is looking a little rosier.

What’s your outlook? Email me at Christina Torode, News Director.

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