Flat IT Salaries Forecast for 2002

IT salaries will remain virtually unchanged in 2002, according to RHI Consulting, following years of low unemployment and competition that drove salaries up.

The RHI Consulting Salary Guide, which is based on an in-depth analysis of thousands of job orders managed by the company’s U.S. offices, found that starting salaries are projected to increase by an average of 0.1 percent in 2002, compared to the 8.4 percent increase forecast this time last year.

“Over the past several years, record low unemployment and competition for talent in the high-tech sector led to sharp increases in starting compensation for IT professionals,” said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of RHI Consulting. “With the demise of many dot-coms and an overall weakening of the economy, most pay structures have stabilized. IT professionals who possess a combination of technical expertise, interpersonal skills, business acumen and industry experience remain in strong demand and can expect continued growth in starting salaries.”

For the second consecutive year, network security professionals will see the greatest starting salary increases of any IT job category, with base compensation forecast to rise by 3.4 percent.

“Safeguarding corporate data continues to be a priority for businesses; this concern is amplifying demand for IT experts who can establish and monitor security standards,” Lee said.

The job title with the largest anticipated rise in base compensation is applications architect, which should see a 6.7 percent increase in average starting salary compared to 2001. Starting salaries for consulting and systems integration directors should rise an average of 6.1 percent.

While overall gains in starting salary are moderate compared to last years projections, some specialty areas should still see notable increases based on strong demand.

For example:

  • Database managers can expect base compensation between $83,000 and $114,000, a 4.8 percent increase over 2001.
  • Average starting salaries for software engineers will rise 4.7 percent, bringing base compensation to the range of $65,000 to $97,000 annually.
  • Disaster recovery specialists will see starting salaries increase 3.1 percent to between $57,000 and $86,000 per year.
  • Base compensation for senior help desk specialists will increase 4.9 percent, with starting salaries in the range of $45,000 to $57,000.
  • Systems administrators will earn average starting salaries between $51,000 and $72,500 annually, a gain of 2.1 percent over 2001.
  • ERP integration managers will see a 2.9 percent increase in base compensation, bringing them to the range of $76,000 to $103,250 annually.

Industries forecasting particularly strong demand for IT professionals in 2002 include health care, financial services and real estate, the RHI Consulting report found. However, hiring activity within these sectors varies significantly by geographic region.

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