Survey: Programmers top annual salary gains

Application programmers had the biggest percentage salary increases, at 9 percent, compared to IT wages a year ago in an annual survey.

An IT salary survey released Monday found that although application programmers scored the largest pay increases, at almost 9 percent, all IT staff positions with applications and system responsibilities had year-to-year jumps in base salary.

Tech workers in the U.S. Northeast and on the West Coast were paid higher wages than elsewhere.

For the third consecutive year, the annual Enterprise Systems (ES) salary survey found that application programmers are a hot IT commodity, getting the biggest salary increases among IT staff positions, averaging US$64,100, up 8.7 percent compared to last year's results. Systems administrators had the smallest salary increases at 2 percent, but that was offset by average annual bonuses rising more than 15 percent this year, to US$3,000.

All of the IT staff positions responsible for applications and systems that ES tracks showed salary gains of between 2 percent and 9 percent. Last year, four of seven positions had salary increases. The ES survey is being released in sections over the next four Tuesdays, with the first section already available.

ES attributed the more widely distributed salary increases to a better U.S. economy.

The survey includes information from 852 enterprise IT sites, with salary figures for IT managers and professionals tracked, along with pay data on management, which will be the focus of next week's report. The survey details eight IT line positions: applications systems analysts, programmer/analysts, application programmers, system programmers, network administrators, system administrators, database administrators and storage administrators.

For the first year, ES obtained salary information for storage administrators, who oversee installation, configuration, security and usage of storage resources. Companies are paying wells for those positions, ES found, with storage administrators in business-to-consumer environments bringing in base pay that is 12 percent above the US$72,900 average for IT positions in the survey. Those in business-to-business brought in a bit less, at US$67,000.

Twenty-five percent of respondents work in government or education, 14 percent in high tech/software development, 9 percent in finance/insurance, 9 percent in manufacturing, 7 percent each in services and health care, 5 percent in utilities/transportation, and 4 percent in retail.

At 75 percent, most respondents support Windows server environments, although that figure dropped from 79 percent in last year's survey. Some 21 percent have mainframes, which is down from 28 percent last year. At least one version of commercial Unix is supported by 41 percent of respondents, with 31 percent running a midrange class system, mostly the IBM iSeries. Linux environments held steady at 31 percent compared to 30 percent last year, ES said.

IT job opportunities have improved in the last year, according to respondents. "Budgets are increasing and therefore there are more chances for services," ES quoted one respondent as saying. "Skills we are being asked for include mobile devices in Exchange environments, software deployment, metering and how to better manage mass-storage systems."

A key skill to have these days is the ability to solve problems for customers, noted an IT manager who works for an outsourcing service provider.

Another survey respondent commented that database administrators are "drawing the highest premiums" at the respondent's company, while "management salaries have not seen much growth."

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