Snapshot of the IT Job Market: Slightly Better but Far from Robust

A review of the latest IT employment data from Foote Partners LLC and new wage information from InformationWeek suggests that the information technology profession is struggling to rebound from the recession, but that technology professionals are generally well-compensated and well-positioned for the future.

The average raise for all IT professionals last year was 0 percent. This marks the first time in the 11-year history of the InformationWeek survey that IT professionals have not reported a median wage increase. But IT pros were not the exception, because few employees received a salary increase last year and many experienced wage cuts. Highly skilled IT pros, such as architects and project managers, generally improved their financial standing over the last year.

Here’s a summary of highlights from the 2010 wage survey.

  • The median pay for architects topped $100,000, project managers $105,000
  • The median base salary for managers was $103,000, total compensation $111,000
  • 10 IT staff job functions earned $90,000 or more in median total compensation, up from seven last year
  • 10 IT management job functions earned $120,000 or more in median total compensation, up from two last year

An area where IT professionals have an edge over their non-technical counterparts is median compensation. For all IT staffers, the median base pay was $81,000 and total compensation was $85,000, making IT a well-paid profession. Also, the IT sector has enjoyed the biggest job gains over the last few months, which bodes well for the future, although the March employment numbers were disappointing.

Nearly 387,000 IT jobs have been lost since the start of the recession and an additional 6,800 IT jobs were lost in March, reversing the pattern of recent improvements.

Tepid job creation means many unemployed IT professionals are still looking for work, but the five IT job segments tracked by the U.S. Labor Department reported gains of 29,100 from October 2009 through February 2010. Analyst David Foote partially attributed last month’s lackluster job numbers to the inclement March weather, which curtailed employer activity across much of the U.S.

Foote said the recovery will likely follow a pattern of three steps forward one step back for the foreseeable future, which comports with many experts¿ predictions for the broad labor market. He expects employers to be less reliant on contractors by this time next year and notes that specialized IT professionals are in an excellent position to rebound, as many who were laid off are now being recalled by their former employers.

These IT jobs have enjoyed the biggest gains in 2010 according to Foote Partners.

  • Computer systems design/related services +9,300
  • Computer and peripheral equipment +700
  • Communications equipment +400

Leslie Stevens-Huffman