Average Tech Pro Salary Flat, Emphasizing Need for Skills

Although tech-industry unemployment remains low, and salaries for specialized skills such as artificial intelligence (A.I.) have risen to stratospheric heights, salaries as a whole for tech professionals in the U.S. were flat, according to the latest Dice Salary Survey.

Tech pros’ average annual pay hit $93,244, a very slight 0.6 percent increase from 2017. In some states with major tech hubs, such as California, the pay was even higher. Certain tech skills have traditionally earned their practitioners much more than the average, as this chart from a few years ago demonstrates:

There’s a perception that the technology field is loaded up with outsized compensation and lavish perks, but that’s not always true. However, salaries for skills where employers have to compete for a limited supply are always at a premium. That’s why a specialist in something like machine learning can take home higher pay than a professional football player, but a JavaScript programmer might be angry over the salaries offered from local firms.

Remember, the tech unemployment rate remains stunningly low, which continues to have an unusual and outsized effect on industry talent.

In a bid to attract top talent, employers continue to focus on perks and benefits such as flexible work hours, additional vacation time, and the option to work from home. While just over half of companies offered those benefits in 2009, nearly three-quarters do so today. That further emphasizes how firms can’t just throw money at specialized tech pros and expect to land the talent they need; employees care deeply about things like work-life balance and workplace culture, no matter what decade it is.

High demand also means that many tech pros who are currently employed will spend this year exploring whether other companies can offer them a better deal, especially when it comes to benefits and perks. That will add an additional element of uncertainty (and cost) to employers’ hiring calculations throughout the year.

12 Responses to “Average Tech Pro Salary Flat, Emphasizing Need for Skills”

  1. Anonymous IT Pro

    While perks of the job are nice, the whole “culture” push is from Human Resource professionals. Many of us IT professionals would rather see trends such as less after hours needed, no on-call rotations and more flexibility to work from home without having to pull teeth or walk on eggshells to do so.

    The last few years, IT employers are merging jobs such as a Help desk and network admin role into one position and expecting 50+ hours a week or more from staff. No one at the network admin level will want to handle those issues in addition to “my mouse doesnt work”… There just isn’t enough time in the day and stresses employees out to the point that it affects their health.

    Employers need to realize, either start paying appropriate salaries in 2018 for the skills you need to support your business or don’t complain when you have a hard time acquiring such talent. Else, do not expect employees to continue to suffer their personal time to meet business needs.

        • Kathryn K

          I have to agree with Chris D and Chris K, but it’s not just in IT. I have a long tenured senior career in HR and have been on a search for over a year too! Unemployment percentage rates are inaccurate because they are determined by those filing unemployment benefits, but it does include the rest of the us that do not have unemployment benefits or have exhausted them…..

  2. VERY TRUE, I’ve been out of work for 7 months and I have a master’ degree in computer science plus 17 years experience as a lead software engineer. Underemployed for the previous 8 years.

  3. I have to agree with “Anonymous”. I have not had to look for a job for a long time and am doing so voluntarily. In a so called Tech Center city in Texas I am seeing very low salaries and YES “wages” asking for pretty high technical skill sets. I guess I missed the memo when the tech sector went from salary to a very low hourly rate and trying to attract “talent”. One has to be truly desperate to take $50-$60K/yr as a Help Desk/Desktop Support/Server Admin/Network Admin. In My case that is nearly a 40-50%% cut in pay, albeit I do have tenure where I am now but early in my career as a HD agent in ’99, I started at $40/yr and grew from there. Sure the market has softened some but still…
    In my frustration I feel it’s arrogance on behalf of HR to think they can squeeze IT professionals this way.
    In comparison, the Denver Market which is much more established as a Tech Center than Austin still boasts more competitive salaries for the same positions. Economically speaking, if you want talent to grow your business in a new market, you need to pay for it.

    • Agreed. I spent some time in the Austin area recently and got to see this happening first-hand. Not many options available for a Network Engineer or Admin that aren’t paid a pittance or required to do helpdesk work. Many of us have struggled for years to get away from the helpdesk/customer support roles. We clawed our way up to more technical and rewarding positions only to have the industry try and drag us back down.

      All of this talk on Dice of “$90k average for IT Pros!” is bologna. Helpdesk, Tech Support, Network Techs, Network Engineers, and Network/Systems Admins can work their entire careers dreaming of $90k. The only positions making more are PMP holders, CCIE’s stealing the Architect positions, and clueless supervisors playing the political games long enough to snag a position “managing” us real professionals…

      Dice and other sites need to reflect the reality of this situation by farming more relevant data sets rather than relying on the occasional elitist surveymonkey report.

  4. Sarah Beth

    I have serious doubts about most income average wages/salaries for tech jobs, even those not in IT. It seems more likely they are rounded up in order to keep people hoping to make a living doing something they are passionate about. Unfortunately you have managers who aren’t capable of listing the correct job title with the skillsets required to perform the job.

    I’m going for the Trifecta of CompTIA certifications but have yet to meet anyone with 2-3 years of experience making anything resembling a realistic income. Add to the fact I was denied financial aid due to racist enrollment practices at the “good” colleges and it looks like I’m better off starting my own IT company.

    Americans are competing with foreign workers and immigrants who are granted racist scholarships. U.S. citizens can’t keep paying to educate those who are taking their jobs and opportunities for socioeconomic advancement with insane tuition rates where loan shark banks make money at the cost of an Americans future.

  5. Location, location, location…! True for real estate and IT. Not sure where the posters are looking, but if you are willing to move to any of the “elite” coastal cities (i.e. NY, DC, SF, LA…) there are plenty of well paid IT jobs for qualified professionals with the right skills.

    • Unfortunately, a great number of applicants are unable (or unwilling) to relocate for a variety of completely valid reasons. Reporting on job prospects that only apply to a few exceptional cities is far from representative of what Dice calls “salaries as a whole for tech professionals in the U.S”. Articles like this are misleading and deceptive for the majority of job seekers in our field who know first-hand how low the wages actually are. “Mid-career” professionals (those of us with 10-15 years of experience) in the other big cities are looking at $65-75k if we’re lucky.