IT salaries set for upward leap

Years of stagnant wage growth in the IT industry officially came to an end in 2004 with recruitment firms confirming salaries are once again on an upward spiral.

These increases are likely to continue in 2005 and recruitment firm Robert Walters isn't predicting modest gains either as its latest salary survey says Sydney-based IT managers can expect increases as high as 23.6 percent.

According to the Robert Walters 2005 Salary Survey, the projected starting salary for an IT manager in NSW will increase from $85,000 to $105,000 per annum.

They survey also found that starting salaries for C-level executives (CIO, CTO) will reach $185,000 - an increase of nearly 5.8 percent. Robert Walters director Bruce Henderson attributes the salary jump to increased IT activity with organizations across the country looking to hire talent.

And it's a scenario that is putting pressure on wages as organizations compete for the right skill sets.

The economic climate has been improving in recent months after a lean and dark post-dotcom era that saw salaries remain flat. "All the hard work and remedy after the dotcom crash is now starting to pay dividends," Henderson said.

"Two years ago a job opportunity for a mid- to senior-level IT staffer would mean they had time to consider the position; now the supply and demand effect means they have to act quickly. When it comes to looking for work, have plenty of other irons in the fire."

Henderson added that the general increase in salaries for IT staffers signifies that technology is not being seen as a support division for the business, but rather a business enabler.

"IT is now seen by commercial executives as a process improvement and an enabling tool that provides business and process efficiency," he said.

The survey also found starting salaries for security specialists are expected to increase from $90,000 a year to $95,000, due to increased demand for complete network security.

Robert Walters senior consultant, Christopher Bedggood, said the salary increases for IT manager in 2004 reflects the fact that they are now being given the charter to make the business more dynamic, and ultimately the opportunity to use technology to drive profitability.

Bedggood added that salary increases for security specialists shows that information is now a highly-prized asset for an organization. "Security guys are now the key element for an organization," Bedggood said.

"Three to four years ago, security and security skills were not as valued, but senior management now realizes that network security stops risk and the potential to exploit an organization.

"This shows people, and organizations, are starting to pay attention to security because it is not something easily sent offshore."

Jane Bianchini, IT director for Ambition recruitment said the general salary increase for IT staff this year is around 10 to 15 percent.

"For IT workers what will tip the scales in their favour is the right mix of technical, business and people skills," she said.

"Those who are willing to participate in raising the bar with cross-functional expertise will be able to command higher salaries."

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