If you’ve ever wanted a job advising companies on their technology choices, now might be the perfect time to jump into the field: according to a Dice analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly salary for tech consultants hit $42.17 in February—an all-time high.
Average pay for tech consultants has crept slowly upward over the past few years: In 2006, average hourly earnings tended to fluctuate around the $36-$37 range. A few years later, the number had gusted up to roughly $40 per hour. Now it’s rising yet again, driven in large part by growth in technology segments such as mobility and the cloud.
“It pays to be in tech. We saw it with a rise in annual salaries and now with hourly earnings hitting an all-time high for tech consultants,” said Mike Durney, president & CEO of Dice Holdings. “Wages may have fallen for the U.S. overall, but tech professionals are reaping the reward of long hours, hard work and the value they provide to America’s businesses.”
He’s not kidding about the long hours: the average tech consultant worked 38.8 hours per week in February—also an all-time high, albeit only by a few minutes. (Dice has found that, over the years, tech consultants tend to work a tad over 38 hours per week.) And given how that’s an average, it’s certain that many consultants are working far longer in order to keep their clients happy.
As companies around the world plan for technology upgrades in 2014, the market for consultants will surely increase; recent surveys suggest that the financial services, retail, and pharmaceutical industries in particular will boost consultant spending.
What will those companies want in a tech consultant? Communication, as with so many other things, is key: Asking good questions before the consultancy begins, and setting out the project’s parameters in a way that all stakeholders can understand, will prevent things from imploding later on. “You have to be able to deliver,” Brandon Smith, a workplace coach and founder of Atlanta-based The Worksmiths, recently told Dice. “That means having specific goals and time frames in mind.”
Taking the initiative, keeping a positive attitude in the face of inevitable course-corrections, and being a team player are also vital traits. Another important factor: fostering a good relationship with recruiters, which can translate into continuing gigs. “You have to understand the recruiter needs you as much as you need them,” Deb DeCamp, vice president of recruiting for Experis, a division of Manpower, also told Dice. “We want people to work for us on more than one project.”
Although tech consultants can bill top dollar for their work, the job can prove stressful at moments. Fortunately, there are ways to strategize in advance in order to ensure that goals are clear and payment arrives on time—because as a consultant, your time is more valuable than ever.