Study: IT starting salaries in U.S. to stay flat in 2002

The days of ever-fatter paychecks for IT experts are over, according to a new study. U.S. starting salaries in the industry are expected to increase on average by just 0.1 percent in 2002, compared to the 8.4 percent rise forecast this time last year, said RHI Consulting Inc. in a statement Thursday.

The low unemployment rate and competition for skilled employees led to steadily rising compensation in recent years, the researchers said. But the collapse of many dot-com companies and the overall weak economy have taken their toll.

Still, there are bright spots, with industries including health care, financial services and real estate predicting strong demand for IT professionals, RHI said, cautioning that hiring varies strongly among different regions of the U.S.

Some job categories can still expect pay rises, above all network security experts, whose base salary is projected to increase by an average of 3.4 percent, RHI said.

As for specific job titles, the one with best prospects is applications architect, for which RHI predicts a 6.7 percent increase in average starting salary compared to 2001. Coming in a close second are consulting and systems integration directors, who should see an average jump of 6.1 percent.

Among the other IT professionals who are expected to command the best salary increases, according to RHI:

- Database managers, whose average annual base compensation, between US$83,000 and $114,000, marks a 4.8 percent increase over 2001.

- Software engineers, whose base salary, at $65,000 to $97,000, will rise 4.7 percent.

- Disaster recovery specialists, whose starting salaries are forecasted to rise 3.1 percent to between $57,000 and $86,000.

- Senior help desk specialists, who will see an increase of 4.9 percent, to between $45,000 and $57,000.

- Systems administrators, whose base pay of $51,000 to $72,500 will increase 2.1 percent over 2001.

- ERP (enterprise resource planning) integration managers, whose 2.9 percent salary increase will bring them to the range of $76,000 to $103,250.

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