Help Desk Workers Suffer 2002 Salary Drop

U.S. help desk workers took it hard in the wallet last year, with the sluggish economy dragging down 2002 salaries across the board, according to a study by the Help Desk Institute (HDI) .

The survey shows that salaries dipped in all service and support-related jobs last year. Directors and senior support managers took the hardest hit, though, with a 7 percent decrease in pay – or an average drop from $82,484 to $76,805. All salaries, according to the institute’s researchers, dropped about 3 percent.

It was a rosier picture to the North, however. The Help Desk Institute reports that Canadian help desk workers saw a slight salary increase last year.

The survey also shows that it doesn’t always pay – literally – to work for a larger company. Overall, companies with 11 or more employees pay lower salaries than those with fewer workers.

And not surprisingly, higher levels of education accompany higher salaries. The survey also shows that technical school degrees did not perform as well on the compensation scale as two- or four-year college degrees.

Customer service skills remain the most important factor in determining salary increases for entry-level staff, according to the institute. And entry-level workers can expect an average salary of $25,595, with more than two-thirds falling within the $21,000 to $35,000 range. Managers averaged $59,589 last year, with 39 percent earning $51,000 to $65,000, while 47 percent of senior managers/directors earned $61,000 to $80,000.

Career seekers may want to turn their attentions to product management instead, as research from Pragmatic Marketing, Inc. revealed a 5.5 percent increase in product managers’ compensation in 2002. The firm estimated that U.S. product managers earn $96,588 annually with salary and bonus, and their Canadian counterparts would stand to earn an annual total of $82,330.

Of the 981 product managers that were surveyed, nearly all (92 percent) have completed college, while more than half (51 percent) have some MBA classes, and 40 percent have completed a master’s program.

The field is male-dominated (65 percent compared to 35 percent female), with gender and regionally based salary differentiations.

Regional Annual Compensation for Product Managers
(Salary + Bonus; All Amounts in U.S. $)
Female Male Overall
Mid Atlantic $97,067 $101,126 $100,131
Midwest $85,856 $85,283 $85,404
Northeast $92,921 $104,548 $99,980
Pacific Northwest $91,718 $87,646 $88,839
South $90,936 $94,071 $92,785
Southwest $92,475 $100,053 $97,371
West Coast $96,877 $109,127 $104,955
U.S. Average $92,211 $99,103 $96,588
Canada $81,200 $81,150 $82,330
Source: Pragmatic Marketing

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