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Wages Freeze For IT In 2010

In 2010, for the first time in the last 11 years of InformationWeek's annual U.S. IT Salary Survey, the median raise for IT professionals is 0%, according to the 20,492 IT pros who responded between November and January. That flat pay holds true for IT managers and staffers, for both their base salaries and total compensation, which includes bonuses. It holds true for IT consultants and contractors, too. If stock options were the sign of the economic times at the start of the last decade, the salary freeze is the symbol for the start of this one.

The fallout of a long, deep recession is obvious in the data: 40% of IT pros report a pay freeze, compared with 26% in 2009. 15% have had their pay cut, compared with 6% in 2009. 29% have had their benefits scaled back, up from 17% in 2009. Only 23% say the economy has not impacted them professionally, compared with 34% in 2009.

IT remains a well-paying profession. For managers, median base salary is $103,000 and total compensation is $111,000. For staffers, median base salary is $81,000 and total compensation is $85,000. There continues to be huge pay differences by skill and industry. In fact, the survey has some positive signs for the most highly skilled IT pros. This year, 10 IT staff job functions earn $90,000 or more in median total compensation, up from seven last year. Ten IT management job functions earn $120,000 or more in median total compensation, up from two last year.

By title, the best-paid staffers continue to be IT architects, whose median total pay tops $100,000. Project management cracked the six-figure mark for the first time, at $105,000 median total compensation. We often hear CIOs talk about the importance of project managers, but we haven't always seen that respect reflected in paychecks. Perhaps that's changing. Industries also matter a lot in determining IT pay. Have you heard that investment banking bonuses are back? It's true in IT as well. The securities and investments segment of financial services tops the industry pay scale for both managers and staffers, with managers earning median compensation of $156,000, including $28,000 in bonus pay. Compare that manager pay with four other sectors--local and state governments, nonprofits, and education--which make $90,000 or less, with bonuses of a few thousand dollars.

For IT leaders, stagnant pay and job security concerns raise strategic staffing issues. Do they have the right people and skills if they have to grow? Can they hold on to people once the hiring starts, or have their hiring freezes, pay cuts, and layoffs taken too big a toll on morale? If the economy shifts gears, IT leaders must be ready with a staffing and salary strategy. To get the complete salary survey, check out our analyst report here (registration required).