Why Aren’t Tech Pro Salary Levels Rising Anymore?

The 2019 Dice Salary Survey is ripe with insight about tech pros and their jobs, but underscores a troubling trend: the average tech pro salary is at a near standstill.

In 2018, salary levels for tech pros sat just shy of the high-water mark achieved in 2015 (that year saw a 5.5 percent increase in income for tech pros, year-over-year). In 2016, salary levels fell 1.3 percent, and have gained back that loss over the past two years (0.7 percent in 2017, and 0.6 percent in 2018). Now, the average tech pro salary is literally $84 less that it was in 2015 ($93,244 compared to $93,328).

When we examine the Salary Survey data closely, some trends emerge that shed some light on why the tech pro salary isn’t budging. Age plays a factor; we find tech pros between the ages of 36 and 49 make an average of $96,894, just above average. The 50-and-over crowd scale into the six-figure range with an average income of $104,117, annually. Those tech pros under 36 years old make far less: $71,191. With that sort of drag, it’s hard to tech pros as a group to get ahead.

It’s indicative of a cycle, too. When we asked tech pros why they anticipated changing jobs in 2019, 68 percent said they were ready for more money (this group makes an average of $80,925 annually). Around 34 percent reported they were ready for more responsibility, suggesting they were ready for a promotion, and naturally more money (this crowd pulls down $85,144 each year).

But 22 percent say they anticipate losing their current job, and this segment of tech pros earns $100,675 on average. Similarly, a lot of well-paying job titles are losing steam. Our top-25 job titles by salary segment shows Systems Architect, Product Manager, and Project Manager roles all earning well north of $100,000, but each saw noticeable declines in income. Meanwhile, most jobs south of the average-income line on that list saw income growth.

The opposite is true of industry. Most industries with above-average salaries actually saw positive gains with reported income. Only one, the finance industry, lost ground; but tech pros in the banking and finance sector still made $105,170 on average.

Jobs in industries where the average income is south of the median annual tech pro salary lost significant ground. Of the 13 industries which had average incomes below the tech pro average of $93,244 in 2018, 10 saw salary levels decline. Five of those industries saw income levels dip four percent or more.

It’s an interesting juxtaposition. On one hand, salaries by job titles are trending toward a middle ground. On the other, jobs by industries show the schism widening; some are doing well, but many are not. A third position we should consider is the ‘meat and potatoes’ jobs of tech – the web developers, tech support, and general ‘programmer’ types of roles – earn less than the median tech pro salary, perhaps due to a number of factors including more available workers. Overall, it’s possible the push-pull dynamic between industry and job titles is forcing this leveling-off.

2 Responses to “Why Aren’t Tech Pro Salary Levels Rising Anymore?”

  1. Oversaturation of H1B workers and the rising numbers of quickly produced hacking bootcamp graduates that know maybe one stack but will be outdated and out of work within three years unless they keep up. Which many don’t.

  2. wageSlave

    The overall economy (macro) is like the blob. Slowly consuming itself decade after decade. Stagnant or dare I say it, depressed as in a two decade long wage depression and counting. From what I can tell, the tech sector’s year after year gains have been a propaganda induces illusion of cherry picked data handpicked from a scatter diagrams to create a feeling of euphoria in a slowly turning down word facing spiral. For two decades, the entire tech sector wages adjusted for inflation has not been going anywhere fast. Just like the overall economy.

    The US leadership, if you can call it that, with their disadvantageous trade deals plunged us into the new world order with two major competitive disadvantages. An overpriced dysfunctional health care system to compete with socialized health care systems where competing industries simply benefit with no direct cost and the lead weight of a mature banking system without adequate regulations creating a high cost of housing. Add to that, poor management of the tech labor market and you have a recipe for losing the position of technology leadership. Boy has that ship sailed.

    Expatriate retirements are the next trend to watch. It has become stupid to stay and let the health care system eat you alive in your later years while the off shore alternatives have been improving their infrastructure. The appeal of becoming an expatriate has also been improving with the trend. At what point the off shoring of retirement income becomes a drag on the overall economy is anybody’s guess, but it is coming with a boom. Force early retirement and necessity can be very motivational.