Although average technology salaries in the U.S. remained essentially flat (~1 percent) year-over-year, certain skills are in especially high demand, according to the new Dice Salary Survey (PDF). Those tech professionals with backgrounds in database and networking technology, as well as a select group of programming languages, earned the biggest salary increases over the past 12 months.
For tech professionals with those skills, this salary data comes as good news. However, those in the tech industry are cognizant that software and hardware evolves rapidly. The knowledge and abilities that land you a six-figure salary today could easily be outdated tomorrow, unless you take the time and effort to evolve your skills in lockstep with the industry. Companies need tech pros to accomplish ambitious goals—but those pros must keep up their end of the bargain by bringing the latest techniques to bear on their work.
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Topping the list of highest-paid skills and languages was SAP HANA, the high-performance analytical database application, followed by MapReduce, Cloud Foundry, HBase, and (rounding out the top five) Omnigraffle. While HANA first appeared on last year’s edition of the Dice Salary Survey, Cloud Foundry is making a first-time appearance, along with—outside of the top five—Apache Kafka and Ansible.
Skills that enjoyed the biggest salary increases over last year’s report were (in descending order) Compellent, Drupal, JCL, FCoE, Nimble, HBase, and Pure Storage.
Despite the flatness in average technology salaries, some 61 percent of tech pros reported their salaries increasing from a year ago; by contrast, only 9 percent said their annual pay had decreased. Around 54 percent of tech pros also said they were satisfied with their compensation—virtually the same as last year’s Salary Survey. Some 27 percent said they would consider relocating to a new city for a job, up two points from the previous report.
Keeping Skills Up-to-Date
Although many tech pros are enjoying high pay and rising salaries, some 15 percent expressed concern over their ability to find an appropriate position for their skill-sets. Another 15 percent worried about keeping their skills up-to-date, while 10 percent expressed unease over potential job elimination.
A key step toward keeping skills up-to-date is figuring out what you actually need to know. While that sounds incredibly simple on the surface, it can actually take some time to sort out what knowledge is necessary to advance your career, and what’s extraneous. Paying attention to your industry is a must; if you see an uptick in chatter around a new programming language or platform, that’s a good indicator that you should learn as much as possible about it. Making a point of reading up on the topics presented at relevant conferences, even if you don’t attend the events, is another solid way of determining what others in your industry are concerned about.
Mentors are equally important; seek one out, if you haven’t already. An effective mentor encourages your career evolution and helps you through technical challenges. While such figures are easiest to find within the walls of your company, you can also seek out advice from people who are prominent in your particular field.
Employers also recognize the importance of employees learning new things, and many are more than willing to pay for professional development and training. Although a company may prove reluctant to pay out more in salaries or perks, they’re often willing to devote the necessary funds to educate their employees on the latest and greatest platforms. If you’re locked in salary negotiations with a particular firm that seems reluctant to meet your goal number, see if they’re willing to pay you to learn; the training path can quickly turn into a win-win for everyone.