Given the low unemployment rates over the past twelve months, it’s perhaps no surprise that salaries for technology professionals rose 7.7 percent between 2014 and 2015, the biggest increase in the history of Dice’s Salary Survey.
That’s obviously good news for tech pros searching for a new position, or seeking a raise from their current employer. Based on salaries, the most popular tech skills on the current market include enterprise applications, programming, databases, operating systems, and cloud/virtualization. More and more companies want to crunch enormous amounts of data and build out substantial presences in the cloud—and they need the tech pros to accomplish those goals.
Taking things to a more granular level, highly specialized skills with generous payouts included:
Despite rising pay, a full third of tech professionals (32 percent) told Dice they weren’t happy with their current salaries. Nor do many employers seem willing to propose other perks to keep their respective workforces engaged. Although 17 percent of employers offered increased compensation as a way of keeping their employees happy, far fewer resorted to flexible work hours (9 percent), the option to telecommute or head to a flexible work location (13 percent), interesting or challenging assignments (12 percent) or training and certification courses (3 percent).
All of those percentages paled in comparison with the 33 percent of respondents who said their workplace had given them no “primary motivator” in 2015.
In another Dice survey in late 2015, some 45 percent of tech professionals said they wanted more of a work-life balance, even if their current position made that difficult. In light of that data, it’s easy to surmise that employees at jobs offering no perks or “primary motivators” may soon look elsewhere for opportunities, especially given the high salaries being offered at the moment.
Whether you’re already working for a tech company, or looking to break into the industry, you can take advantage of the industry’s rising salaries by negotiating for higher pay. Given the rising salaries in many sub-industries and regions across the country, employers are acutely aware that good talent is valuable, and many are willing to pay accordingly.
Before you enter into any sort of negotiation, however, make sure you do your research. What has your company paid in the past for tech professionals with similar skill-sets and experience? What does your field tend to pay? What did the person who previously held your job earn?
While you may not learn the answers to all those questions, any salary-related data can give you a better idea of what to expect as “fair” from an employer. As a tech professional, you should also engage in a periodic (and rigorous) self-assessment in which you list your professional assets (i.e., your achievements, skills, and experience) along with any liabilities (i.e., failed projects, gaps in experience and performance). When discussing salaries with employers and potential employers, your assets give you leverage in asking for higher pay or better perks; but you should also figure out how to best explain anything in your liability column.
Despite the rising need for tech pros, especially ones with highly specialized skills, some employers may balk at offering higher pay. Fortunately, compensation is often about more than just money in the bank; your negotiations can extend to benefits such as flexible working hours or the option to telecommute. Although Dice’s salary survey suggests many employers aren’t offering those sort of motivators, that doesn’t mean perks aren’t off the table in a discussion.
Whatever your salary goals, make sure that your requests are justified by your skills and experience. It might be great times for tech professionals, but you still need to demonstrate that you have what it takes to succeed in a highly competitive and evolving environment.