IT managers may be ahead of the game in the salary stakes but it's a grim story for database administrators whose pay rate is in serious decline.
Based on the Australian Computer Society's 2006 Remuneration Survey released earlier this week, pay rates for ICT professionals to May 2006 had increased 4.3 percent, compared with a 3.8 percent increase in 2005.
The survey of 1500 Australian workers found the median total package for an IT manager was $126,636 in 2006, up from $111,488 in 2003.
Below average increases were discovered in the software manufacturing space and a marked decline in the annual salary of DBAs ($92,923 in 2003 down to $88,945 in 2006).
ACS president Philip Argy said the survey indicates overall that the level of salaries for most ICT job functions has steadily increased since bottoming out at 3.1 percent in 2003. It makes for a positive environment for ICT workers, he said.
"Employment demand in the ICT industry is shifting towards jobs that support the competitive drivers of an organization and soft skills like project management, people management, negotiation and business development," Argy said.
"Whilst factors such as skills shortages, resources boom, increased spending on infrastructure and an ageing workforce are affecting the industry and will do so for some time, for those considering entering into an ICT career, the current salary climate is positive."
Figures from recruitment firm Hudson's winter salary guide due to be released this week also showed a net increase of 4 percent.
Hudson IT&T executive general manager Cyrus D'Cruz said their figures reflected the impact of sales staff in the IT&T industry.
"We found a national increase of between 2.5 and 2.9 percent which was heavily weighted down by sales; if you take those figures out it shows a net increase of 4 percent," D'Cruz said.
"The two most ambitious regions for salary increases are Western Australia because of the resources boom, and the ACT as the government invests more on infrastructure.
"Our findings with DBA roles nationally was a zero increase over the last six months. Maybe investment in the development of databases has come to an end of the cycle; I am not sure if there is a glut on the market as we are still filling roles for DBAs, but they are easier to find."
Jan Patterson, IT project manager for a Queensland-based private hospital said IT staff shortages may be affecting salary trends, but the ACS figures alone are not realistic for the industry.
Another IT manager, who requested anonymity, said there has been a steady increase in salaries for IT managers; however, not many salaries would be in line with averages from the ACS.
"Sadly, for me, the figures are a little bit high, but it comes down to the structure of the company and the way the management of information systems is organized," the IT manager said.
"I am probably not far off the mark, but I would be much happier if I was earning between $111,000 and $126,000."
Rod Apostle, CIO for Shepparton City Council, said the figures are spot on the money for local government. Apostle said the fact that the council is not in a large city has probably fuelled its current salary range.
"Our drivers in local government are attracting talented staff, competing for these staff with enterprise firms and being in a regional area," Apostle said.
"Our big driver has been turning IT from being the technical part of the organization to the business enabler and as a by-product has paid dividends for our IT department and our pay rates.
"In relation to the rates for DBAs going down, I reckon a lot of major projects are slowing down. We used to have a dedicated DBA on Oracle, now we are using Microsoft SQL and our reliance on the DBA has lessened as SQL 'dumbed down' the position a little."