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2023 in Review: IT Pay Held Steady Despite Economic Pressures and ChatGPT's Emergence

  • Salary survey

    IT jobs have been shaken over the past 18 months as technology firms of every size have laid off employees and reduced hiring. After a decade of growth and two years of hiring sprees turbocharged by the coronavirus pandemic, the industry has been forced by investors and stakeholders to look at ways to cut back on costs.

    This year’s Network Computing Salary Survey gathered information from 323 full-time IT professionals working in the United States. The results offer a look at the state of the industry through the lens of salaries, employee satisfaction, compensation, perceived value, and happiness.

    Even though there have been over 330,000 layoffs in the industry, network computing jobs are still sought after, and employees, by and large, still feel secure in their roles and are seeing salary increases and bonuses. Similar to the market for other highly technical roles, network engineers, architects, and administrators are highly valued by businesses in the tech industry, as they perform many critical network and systems tasks.

    That said, there is a growing body of workers who want to have more training from their organization in the form of skills training for new technologies or certifications to work with more applications and systems. Businesses have been leaning into this concept of upskilling or reskilling workers, but less than a quarter of organizations have paid for courses, suggesting a disconnect between perceived business values and actual business decisions.

  • salary up

    The majority of salaries increased

    Even during a time of high inflation and the highest increase in interest rates since 2007, a majority of network computing employees in the United States received a salary increase in 2022. According to data collected in the survey, 77 percent of respondents said that they had an increase in 2022. However, only 40 percent received a pay rise of above five percent. The 37 percent that received an increase of between one and four percent actually had a real-term loss due to the percentage pay rise being lower than the rate of inflation last year. Only seven percent of respondents said they had a pay decrease, with 14 percent not seeing any change in their pay slip in 2022.

    The median salary for a network computing employee in 2022 was $125,000, a bit lower than the average for the IT industry as a whole.

  • health insurance

    Health insurance as standard

    When discussing indirect cash rewards network computing employees receive from their workplace, the vast majority have health coverage and 401(k) match. After those two, employee benefits become far less uniform. Only 34 percent of network computing employees have a company-paid smartphone, and less than 20 percent have a stock purchase plan or receive stock options.

    At a time when employers are struggling to find talent for certain roles, reskilling or upskilling has become the go-to way for businesses to fill in the gaps. Accordingly, 30 percent of network computing employees have had further education or training paid for them, and 26 percent have had reimbursement for certifications.

  • job security

    Almost all feel secure in their roles

    The last 12 months have seen hundreds of thousands of tech employees laid off, with some of the biggest companies in the world cutting tens of thousands of workers and reducing the amount of hiring. Even with this turmoil in the industry, the vast majority of network computing workers feel secure in their jobs, with 41 percent of respondents to the survey feeling very secure and a further 47 percent feeling somewhat secure. Only 10 percent said they were somewhat insecure about their current job security, with less than five percent stating they felt very insecure.

    A majority of network computing workers also found that career advancement and salary increases were as promising today as they were five years ago, and a further 23 percent of respondents said they were more promising.

  • skills

    Soft skills highly valued

    Network computing roles are, for the most part, highly technical, with workers expected to know how to manage network and systems infrastructure, prepare reports, and conduct risk management assessments. However, there are a lot of soft skills - or business-focused skills - that are considered by respondents in the survey to be critical to their job.

    One of the highest-rated skills is collaborating with internal stakeholders, which includes informing non-technical staff and directors on network improvements and assessments and pushing these projects forward. Aligning business and technology goals was another critical skill for more than two-thirds of respondents, along with interacting with customers and building vendor relationships.

  • training

    Workers want to be trained on new technologies

    A majority of respondents to the survey said they wanted to be trained on new technologies and found that type of training most valuable in developing their careers. AI and cloud are at the forefront of a lot of computing spend, which is expected to increase in the next five years. Network computing workers want to be able to work in these fields and expect their employers to help with this.

    Other types of training workers found valuable included certification courses, which allow them to work with multiple platforms and applications. Risk and cybersecurity training was another sought-after type of training, with 39 percent of respondents considering it valuable to their career progression.

  • workload

    Managers managing more people

    Network computing workers are managing more people than they did two years ago, indicating that companies are investing in larger teams for network operations. According to the survey, over 20 percent of respondents have seen the number of people they manage increase since 2021.

    The vast majority of operations have remained the same in terms of size, with 63 percent stating they are managing the same amount of people as two years ago. Less than 15 percent of network computing workers are managing fewer people than two years ago.

  • upskill

    Workers consider themselves important but worry about training

    Over 80 percent of network computing workers consider themselves important to their employer's success, which is much higher than in other non-technical fields such as human resources and media. Over three quarters also said they would recommend a career in technology or IT.

    Even with this confidence in their importance, network computing workers are less confident in the tools and training provided by them to perform their jobs well. Only 66 percent said they had all the tools required for the job, and 60 percent said they had all the training.

  • outsourcing

    Businesses are split with IT outsourcing

    IT outsourcing has become a common way to avoid the difficulties with hiring talent and retaining them long-term. More than half of businesses surveyed are outsourcing some of their IT jobs, while 40 percent are not currently.

    Workers in the US are feeling the impact of outsourcing, with 40 percent seeing fewer IT jobs available and a similar amount noticing lower salaries for new hires. The introduction of outsourcing has led to lower employee morale in some organizations.