Tech Salaries Stagnant, Despite Low Unemployment: Dice Salary Survey

The tech industry is enjoying a remarkably low unemployment rate, but that’s not translating into rising salaries for technology professionals, according to the latest Dice Salary Survey.

Average annual salaries in 2018 remained flat, at $93,244. That’s a mere 0.6 percent increase from 2017. No wonder some 68 percent of respondents to Dice’s survey said they’d change employers to receive higher compensation. (Some 47 percent said they’d switch jobs for better working conditions, while 34 percent said they’d do so for more responsibility; another 22 percent thought they might lose their current position, necessitating a job switch.)

But even if companies can’t (or won’t) find the funding to pay tech pros radically bigger salaries, they can still offer enticing non-salary options such as training and education, remote-working benefits, and flexible schedules.

In the survey, around 71 percent of tech pros said that training and education are important to them, but only 40 percent currently have company-paid training and education; that’s a 31 percent gap between what’s desired and what’s offered. Far more tech pros (45 percent) who are satisfied with their job receive training, whereas only 28 percent of those who are dissatisfied with their job receive training.

Tech pros also overwhelmingly noted remote and flexible working options as important (73 percent), but only 49 percent currently have these options. This 24 percent gap is the second-largest between a desired benefit and what employers are offering, which ties into overall employee satisfaction: 55 percent of people who said they’re satisfied with their job have remote and flex options, whereas 33 percent of those who are dissatisfied with their job have this benefit.

“Offering skill-bolstering training keeps employees at the top of their game and could ease the minds of professionals wanting to feel motivated and invested,” said Art Zeile, CEO of DHI Group, which owns Dice.

Tech pros may find their managers more willing to negotiate over flexible scheduling (to name just one non-monetary benefit) than salary, especially if a company is already wrestling with tight budgets. As we head deeper in 2019, consider what you might want besides money. Your boss could prove surprisingly amenable to your request.

26 Responses to “Tech Salaries Stagnant, Despite Low Unemployment: Dice Salary Survey”

  1. Tom Kupfer

    I’d like to know if this assessment of “low unemployment” in any way accounts for older workers like me who have been out of the workforce long enough that our status does not register anywhere. After coming out of a long-term contract in 2016, I couldn’t attract even a nibble of interest despite dozens (maybe hundreds) of job applications. I didn’t get stupid, just old(er). And it wasn’t about money, because no situation ever reached that point of discussion. Would sure like know where these $90K jobs are.

      • Congratulations. When you are not working you lose your skills though. I had my final job loss at 62 and just took social security, 2 small pensions and with a paid house and kids through college just decided to play over 60 basketball, tennis and learned golf. Got a substitute teaching job netting 400/week(can’t make over 18k with social sec) and started enjoying life. I am lucky but after 40 years in systems/networking/sales support(starting at Burroughs!)enough is enough. If I spent 10,000 on a bootcamp for AWS, what would that accomplish..a second shift job at 52k per year?

    • Daniel Scott

      It is definitely age discrimination. However, it is very difficult to prove. I applied for many hundreds of jobs and got dozens of interviews, but only one job offer, despite in many cases, I had all of the required skills and years of experience. And the one job offer I got quoted a rate of $XX.XX per hour (doing work for UPS), and they called me (from eTalentNetwork.com) to tell me I got the job, but the rate was now 23% lower. I declined. They called me back three times to try to get me to take the lower rate, but it was so ridiculously low, it was insulting. The job was for a MS-Access / VBA / SQL / SQL Server job (of which I have 15+ years of experience in, and I have written literally a million+ lines of VBA code, and I also have 8+ Oracle PL/SQL programming experience, which was a plus.

  2. Salaries aren’t budging upwards because hiring managers, HR, etc. are still “drunk” on low H1B and offshore rates. As long as it is relatively easy to bring in an offshore resource at 30-40% of the cost of a U.S. citizen this problem will continue. IT and technical resources are compared with what the Wipro’s and TCS’ of the world are selling them at, and this haunts the U.S. employment market for citizen tech professionals – an impact that started to hit in the early ’90s and continues unabated today. I know this personally, having worked in the industry for close to 30 years, and for part of that tenure as a PgM and client engagement manager for an Indian SI. The game is rigged, and it’s not in the favor of U.S. citizens. We must do better for our fellow Americans of all colors and stripes.

  3. Cerpher Joe

    Lt. Dan is right. Take a look at DXC, the recent merger of HP Enterprise Services (HPES) and CSC. Major IT services company. Articles in the press around merger time indicated Meg Whitman had already moved 60% of HPES staff to off-shore, mostly India. Mike Lawrie, DXC CEO, is equally aggressive. Trump should nail foreign labor just like he’s nailing foreign manufacturing.

  4. Peter Needham

    I walked away from IT voluntarily after 38 years and never looked back. Let’s face it, it’s incredibly unfulfilling and the “creativity” of software development has been replaced by agile (yawn) methodologies etc. I now have my own handyman business, am I JP, have cable TV show, CDL license, VO recording studio, Lyft Driver and more. My point is you can gamble on companies and hope to “hang on” (at their mercy) or you can gamble and invest in yourself. I assure you the motivation totally changes. I realize not for all and everyone’s situation is different, but if what I’ve described has crossed your mind, I say jump in. The odds of success are better than putting your hopes and future into a company today.

  5. I also call BS on low unemployment i the profession. I remember when there really was low unemployment. You could apply for 3-4 jobs and you often had an offer after your first interview, within a day or two. Contrast that with today’s job market: multiple screen interviews, and if you make it to the final one, it’s an all gauntlet. Then you wait for weeks for an offer, only to find out you didn’t get it.

    And don’t get me started with the recruiters, who are mostly H1-B’s now, who call about 6-12 month contract jobs. many which require relocation. And the pay is mediocre.

  6. Low unemployment – thanks for the laugh Nick. That must be low Indian unemployment. I’d wager US workers salaries are stagnant because of the H1B invasion. True story – got a call about a position in Miami for $40 per hour. I did a cost of living comparison from where I live currently to Miami. 53% increase so when the H1B manager called back about an interview, I told him $40 would not be enough. When asked why, I stated COL difference. Silence…I asked, do you know what a cost of living comparison is? He did not and I tried to explain but Mr. H1B manger couldn’t understand. Imagine that.
    The other issue I see repeatedly is companies wanting someone with 8 or 10 different skills and 8 to 10 years experience in each. Then can sit in a room for an hour being interviewed and have 5 or 6 people throw questions at the person who is supposed to be able to explain, in detail, each step and screen to perform a task in each technology. IT industry has become surreal.

    • “The other issue I see repeatedly is companies wanting someone with 8 or 10 different skills and 8 to 10 years experience in each. Then can sit in a room for an hour being interviewed and have 5 or 6 people throw questions at the person who is supposed to be able to explain, in detail, each step and screen to perform a task in each technology. IT industry has become surreal.”

      I would say that rather than try to find a reason to hire you, they are focused on finding a flaw, a reason to not hire you. Then they claim there is no one to hire.

    • Jennifer

      I think Dave hit the nail on the head and Mr. Kupfer’s situation does not get enough attention. The forgotten unemployed and highly talented, older jobless sector is very real and so is ageism. I worked with a consulting firm that worked with a lot folks from both India, Russia and the Ukraine, and Americans too. However, a big drive for outsourcing was also to keep development on a constant 24 hour cycle for tight iterations. On the plus side there were remote opportunities for American developers, which is a model I think could have worked well for a lot of Americans. But unfortunately, they were a terrible organization and ripped off everyone and eventually folded. As a content (business writer), and seasoned (20 + yrs) b2b tech person that also has project management and sales experience, I network with a lot of millennials. Despite a lot of heat millennials get for being coddled, lazy or whatever, I try to treat younger folks as equals (not always easy when some are immature). And for the most part I have found just as many smart, talented and hard working millennials. As a woman, sadly, I’ve also dealt with a lot of disrespect and sexism. Perhaps this has made me tougher, but don’t give up! Network as much as possible, make new friends, try to have fun with the young’ns and make a longer term exit plan. I wish agesim would go away, but I’m too much of a realist to think it will and I’d like the tech community to do more to tackle this issue. Soooo much kick ass knowledge is going to waste!!! There should be more effort to mix older and younger generations to maximize the most out of everyone.

  7. Concerned

    H1B!!! Write the Whitehouse.gov under contact and let’s start taking action.

    We are making Billionaires off our backs. I am a capitalist but I dont take advantage of others for my prosperity. H1B is being abused, high number of fraud events that go unchecked because Cognizant is out there buying congress from both parties.

    PLEASE WRITE TRUMP, congress cannot be trusted to solve this.!!! Please start talking action.

  8. I’m not convinced the unemployment stats, u3, u5, and u6 are correct. They may very well be wrong.

    The national average, especially families with children, of people with health insurance is rapidly falling. For decades the correlation between unemployment rates and rates of those with health insurance were in lock-step with each other. As one rate fell, the other rate increased, and visa versa.

    This is not the case now. The number of people with health insurance is falling while unemployment is supposed to be falling as well. The rate of people with health insurance should be rising, not falling. Even though the availability and lower average cost of health insurance is significantly better than in decades past, due to the Affordable Care Act, fewer people have health insurance despite more people being employed.

    This reversed trend from a long-standing correlation hasn’t been explained. Consequently, I believe the unemployment rate isn’t accurate.

  9. A lot of these problems were caused solely by H1Bs.

    Many jobs were given to H1B citing reduced cost to the company. Though salary is less to a H1B, money when converted to a foreign currency like India, is a huge sum (1 USD = 72 INR today). A guy earning 2000 USD can live a decent life and with 5000 USD he can quickly build his wealth in India. This is the sole reason why many wants to come to the US and make some big money.

    A H1B guy earning 5000 USD a month, lives in a shared accommodation with 4-5 people (where all expenses from food to toilet paper is shared among tenants living in the same unit), they manage to save as much dollars and take to India and therefore building a wealth back in their country.

    Apart from US job crisis due to H1B, this has also created another lucrative area for placement companies based in US (and India).

    When you upload your resume in one of the job sites, you will start getting calls from a person based in India trying an American accent. They try to place you in one of their “client” pojitions so they can make money off of your salary earned.

    For every placement, placement company gets a hefty reward paid. The caller from such companies also get a cut in this as bonus.

    It’s a huge industry.

  10. The H1-B Indians are like gypsies. They’ll live out of a $20/night hotel room and move anywhere for a few months contract @ $30-40/hr. The H1-B program has ruined the Tech industry.

  11. I think I see a trend of trying to scale back from relying on third parties for development even with the cost savings.

    The last few jobs I interviewed with were strictly to get someone local to design directly with the in house product owners because the back and forth dealing with different time zones and sometimes language barriers was more hassle then it was worth. They also needed someone able to speak directly with the users and understand their needs.

    I think the cost savings of working with a third party international team were not equaling good products or a smooth way to improve existing products. Just the logistics were proving to be too much a pain in the ass. I’m now starting to see companies working to bring more people in house and move away from this practice.

    Also sadly I am profiling recruiters who have Indian names. I’ve given enough of a chance to have that abused and try to be scammed. I hate that I have to do this but it’s saved me so many headaches. I also delete all emails that are 3 month contract jobs in a different city that have enough job requirements for 2 separate jobs. I wonder who they have writing these job descriptions when they obviously have no insight in what that job title actually does.

    • What company id
      Currenrly, I’m training H1B’s for my job and told to create documentation, which includes print screens about 30 pages. I guess even though 2 people retired and 3 left for NYC jobs …. Only time will tell

  12. Capt Kirk

    Honestly, I don’t think it’s so much age discrimination as wage discrimination. Most getting laid off are at the peak earning years.

    Recently got contract gig 8 months after getting laid off from low 6-figure job where I was for years. Now working for half that and the contracting agency misrepresented their “health care plan.” It pays to diagnose the cancer, not treat it. I will only vote for those who will immediately enact Medicare-for-All (MFA) as as I am now paying $700 mo for healthcare, an entire week’s wages. Don’t BS me on this, Medicare overhead is 2-6%, commercial insurance is close to 20%, facts are stubborn things and the financial hit is painful. Tax the rich to pay for MFA, since they got all your money.

    I don’t blame the Indians who fill H1B, frankly many are getting exploited pretty badly by paying commissions and (yes, I asked) bribes, to get the job. The smart ones are banking everything so they can retire at 40 and live well in their low-cost homeland. I wish I could do that. They also say AI/automation has caused large layoffs in India BPO and they too are hurting and scared for their futures.

    I submitted over 300 resumes, but guys, the best way is to join meetup.com and look for groups that can help you meet people who can get you hired. It will also help with the isolation and depression. Keep your Linkedin profile current too. Use Jobscan.co to tune your resume for the jobs you really want. It’s a numbers game.

    ++++I also ask you collect contact info on fellow unemployed, help each other by giving job leads you can’t use and be kind to each other.+++

    Peter Needham’s comments resonate, if you ARE working, then have your backup plan ready. Save at least 50% of your pay NOW. Expect to be out of work up to a year, as hiring decision cycles can be 90 days or more and the job search takes 3-6 months. Better support MFA too while you have paid insurance.

    Coming automation will allow for major job consolidation, millions will have no hope whatsoever of getting a job. Ever. All the “happy talk” about AI creating jobs is simply keeping the sheep docile before the slaughter. It’s coming. You’ve been warned.
    Beam me up Scotty, they’ve all gone crazy here.

  13. My income is keep going down lately, it is interesting because I have never stay more than 1 month without a job for the last 10 years. I start my developer life with 65k went up to 98k and now I have been for the last three years down to 57k. Programming in J, C#, angular and sql server.The survey from Dice says in my area salaries are around 98k – 125k, but I don’t know anybody around me that makes that much.

  14. I am semiconductor engineering/manufacturing/management professional. As long as you are on the top in your field I don’t see any age, race, gender discrimination since I emigrated to US 30 years ago. As a matter of fact there are two top engineers over 70 in my current Company. White, black, woman, russian, german enjoying working together as the Team.
    Since half of my life I lived in a communist country, I enjoy every freedom aspects of living in US.
    I own all of my successis and failures.

  15. H1B is the main cause and should be much more strictly controlled. There are PLENTY of talented, educated U.S. citizens who can fill these jobs. To all of the H1B apologists, are you saying that the graduates of MIT, CalPoly, Chicago, Stanford etc. just can’t cut the mustard so we need to bring in cheap foreign labor because those workers are somehow smarter and have better training than what is provided by the institutions I listed? Give me a break!! It’s all about corporations making huge profits with little to no concern for workers. I would also like to point out that from what I have been able to research and also from personal experience, that other countries give priority to their citizens for jobs, unlike the U.S.