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Networking and Data Center Salary Survey: Is 2012 What You Expected?

  • We're closing in on the final quarter of 2012; back when we conducted our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey, staff members across the country were reporting both higher salaries and greater dissatisfaction with their jobs. How has 2012 treated you? Has your salary held steady? Or were you passed up for that raise you were anticipating?

    In our 2011 survey of 803 IT networking and data center staff members throughout the country, only those in the Pacific region of the U.S. reported salary increases, from an average of $77,000 per year in 2010, to $79,000 in 2011. Staff salaries in the Northeast, Midwest and South Atlantic held steady, while the South Central and Mountain portions of the country saw declines.

    The story shifted for our 2012 report. The 711 IT staff members polled in January reported an average salary of $78,000 this year for networking and data center employees, an increase from $74,000 in 2011. Managers also saw an uptick; the salaries reported by the 509 managerial-level respondents averaged out to $97,000 per year, an increase from $95,000 in 2011.

    Yet, the rise in salaries hasn't helped job satisfaction levels; 16% of networking and data center staffers reported they were dissatisfied, an increase from 13% in 2011. Two percent reported they were very dissatisfied in both years. By comparison, 12% of managers surveyed this year reported they were dissatisfied, a slight increase from the 11% of 648 managers in 2011 who reported the same. As with the networking and data center staff members, 2% of IT managers were very dissatisfied in both years.

  • Salaries are on the upswing for almost all segments tracked by our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey. The networking side has seen more of a percentage increase: the median annual base salary for networking staff members rose from $72,000 to $77,000; for managers, it rose to $91,000 after dipping from $90,000 in 2010 to $88,000 in 2011.

    Data center staff members saw a smaller bump--from $78,000 in both 2010 and 2011 to $80,000 this year. Data center managers, on the other hand, have seen their average salaries return to the 2010 rate of $100,000 per year, down from $101,000 last year.

    As for total compensation, the numbers rose from $77,000 to $80,000 for staff members; managers saw an increase from $102,000 in 2011 to $104,000 for 2012.

  • Seventy percent of managers said they expect a bonus this year; 57% of networking and data center staff members reported the same, according to our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey. In large part, all respondents expected the bonuses and direct cash payments to be based on personal performance (59% of 403 staff members receiving bonuses; 64% of 335 managers).

    The company plays a big factor in bonuses, apparently: 43% of staff members said their organizations' performance will lead to bonuses; 19% cited company profit-sharing plans; 16% said their divisions' performance would have an impact.

    Interestingly, bonus opportunities ranked third-from-last on the list of what matters most to staffers; 14% cited it among seven responses allowed per individual. That number holds steady with 2011's results.

  • While reports come and go about the end of the Great Recession, networking and data center staff members and managers alike are still feeling the effects of a slower economy. Raises of less than 5% have become pretty standard, it seems, with 41% of staff members and 36%of managers reporting salary increases within that range, according to our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey. The numbers aren't that far off from the averages found across IT positions in the InformationWeek 2012 U.S. IT Salary Survey--46% of the 13,800 respondents reported similar raises.

    Of course, that's better than seeing your salary frozen, which 19% of networking and data center staff members and 20% of managers listed as a result of the slower economy. Three percent of both staff members and managers reported pay cuts, while benefits were reduced for 22% of staff members and 21% of managers.

  • Training opportunities continued to fall by the wayside, according to our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey. Twenty-two percent of staff members reported fewer training opportunities in 2011; 35% said they'd received no additional training or certification.

    When staff members are able to get away for training, they have a 50/50 chance of getting the company to pay for it, according to the survey. Fifteen percent paid for it themselves.

    As for managers, 15% said they had fewer shots at training in 2011; 31% received none at all. As with their staffs, 15% of those who were able to work in training paid for it themselves; 56% were funded by the company.

  • Uncertain economic times can lead to professional insecurity and doubt. Yet, the 711 IT staff members who responded to our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey seem pretty secure in their positions. Eighty-nine percent said they feel very or somewhat secure; 91%of managers reported the same.

    The numbers are identical to those reported in 2011; however more managers are feeling very secure (47%, vs. 44% in 2011). On the other hand, 55% of managers said they don't believe a career path in IT and the potential for salary advancement are as promising today as they were in 2007. Fifty-seven percent, however, said a career in IT is as secure as most others in the current economy.

  • So who's paying best? Probably the companies you'd expect. Of the 711 IT staff members and 509 IT managers who responded to our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey, those earning the most worked at companies with more than $10 billion in revenue.

    Salaries by age told a similar story; the higher the numbers, the higher the salary, for the most part. Those respondents ages 26-35 reported staff salaries of $69,000 per year and managerial salaries of $78,000 annually; respondents 46-55 fell into the higher brackets ($85,000 for staff members; $102,000 per year for managers). After 55, the salaries dipped to $83,000 for staff members and $98,000 annually for managers.

  • No surprise, really--base pay (49%), job/company stability (47%) and benefits (43%) matter most to the 711 IT staff members who responded to our 2012 Network Computing Salary Survey. Respondents were allowed up to seven choices.

    The story was slightly different for managers: While 48% cited base pay and 47% chose job/company stability, 44% want a challenging job or responsibilities, which ranked fourth for staff members.

    Prestige and reputation of the company ranked last for both staff members and managers, at 6% for both.