You don’t have to join a high-profile social media company or a sexy tech startup to score a bigger paycheck: Firms in the following industries are not only actively hiring tech pros… they pay a whole lot better than you might think.
Consumer Packaged Goods
Companies that make consumable goods such as food and beverages, clothing and cleaning products have had a very good run, but they’ve been slow to embrace new technology, explained Kanak Rajan, a Chicago-based compensation consultant with global consulting firm Mercer.
“Now, they’re facing increased pressure from shareholders to find the next great thing,” he said.
That pressure is pushing legacy CPG companies into data modeling, predictive analytics, mobile and RFID technologies—and the throes of a severe talent shortage. They’ve had to boost compensation to attract a new generation of tech talent. For example, food and beverage made the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) list of top-paying industries for project managers, with an average annual salary of $105,000.
High-Value Professional Services
Within the professional services industry, there’s a unique group of firms typically far more profitable than their peers. These high-value practices might offer accounting, legal or advertising services, but they have one thing in common: little tolerance for mediocrity.
“Professional service firms that are highly profitable are willing to pay more to attract high caliber people,” Rajan said. Legal services constitute the fifth-highest paying industry for project managers, with a median salary of $113,000, according to PMI. Of course, you better bring your “A” game and be willing to trade work-life balance for a higher salary.
Energy and Utilities
Utility companies face an aging workforce and infrastructure, as well as pressure to limit rate increases, so they’re replacing outmoded legacy systems and boosting compensation in order to attract a new breed of tech professionals and leaders with fresh ideas.
Utilities and energy was the fourth highest paying industry in Dice’s 2014 Tech Salary Survey, with an average annual salary of $97,161. Tired of skimpy raises? Energy and utility companies planned to offer average raises of 3.5 percent, which was the largest base salary increase in Mercer’s annual survey (PDF).
“Before you write off a gas or electric company as a dinosaur, remember that most utilities still provide lucrative benefits including traditional pension plans,” Rajan said. “A utility can be a very attractive option especially for mid-career IT professionals.”
Agriculture and Mining
Have you heard of agribots, precision agriculture, crop sensors or bioinformatics? The agriculture industry is in the midst of a technological revolution. Agricultural companies are using sensors to enable real-time traceability and diagnosis of crop, livestock and farm machine states. Meanwhile, the market for electric and hybrid vehicles for construction, agriculture and mining is projected to reach $30 billion by 2025.
The onslaught of projects has made this the second-highest-paying industry for project managers, according to PMI, with a median annual salary of $122,000. And the average starting salary for new grads with bachelor’s degrees entering the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industry in 2014 was $97,100, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (PDF). Data analysts, software and hardware specialists, and other tech-centric professionals could all succeed in a variety of roles.
Niche Financial Services
Forget working for the big retail banks; if you want to increase the size of your paycheck, follow the real money into a specialized financial services company.
Niche players desperately need cybersecurity experts, data analysts and a variety of front- and back-end Web professionals to empower the development of new products. Examples of niche firms include private equity banks, equipment leasing, options trading firms, advisory and asset-management entities.
“A niche firm offers value-add services that support the financial services industry in a particular city,” Rajan explained. “For instance, if you want to work on Wall Street, go for a job in a boutique investment bank or small advisory firm where they’re willing to pay more to top talent.”