CertMag.com CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey: Monitoring Your Net Worth
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CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey: Monitoring Your Net Worth

December 2005 - Tim Sosbe, Emily Hollis, Brian Summerfield & Cari McLean

As an industry, Information Technology has been beleaguered for so long it’s easy to believe the news is all bad, all the time. Happily, that’s not really the case. According to Certification Magazine’s 2005 Salary Survey, IT is doing well and getting better.

For the annual Salary Survey, CertMag editors surveyed 35,167 IT professionals in 170 countries around the globe. With 95.4 percent of those professionals holding technical certifications—the average respondent has 3.29 certifications, up from the 2004 survey’s average of 2.95 certifications per respondent—the survey showed which programs and specialty areas draw the biggest salaries.

As was the case last year, information storage and security bring the largest salaries, along with Cisco networking. Project managers and Java developers also scored well as career choices.

In terms of salaries, the average overall salary for the global survey was $71,100, up from 2004’s average reported salary of $67,000. See Figure 1 for a list of average salaries for 85 major certification programs listed in this year’s survey questionnaire.

For the first time, the Salary Survey’s top five certification programs all reported average salaries of more than $100,000. Two programs from the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC)2 led the list, with the Certified Information Systems Security Management Professional (CISSP-ISSMP) program drawing $116,970 annually and the Certified Information Systems Security Architecture Professional (CISSP-ISSAP) earning $111,870.

Rounding out the top five were the Brocade Certified SAN Designer (BCSD) storage certification ($108,170), the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) program ($105,900) from the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA) and a perennial favorite, the Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE), with $104,020.

Overall, certified professionals this year enjoyed an average 16.4 percent pay increase from 2004, up significantly from last year’s reported increase of 14.1 percent. The global survey clearly showed the value of qualified IT experts, with 23.4 percent of the respondents earning 25 percent or more in salary than they did in 2004.

For this year’s annual Salary Survey report, the editors of Certification Magazine have divided the various elements of the survey into special reports on the pages that follow, highlighting which IT specialties earn the most respect and the most rewards, which countries around the world pay best for certified experts, and how things like gender, age and experience impact paychecks. You’ll also see a profile of the certified respondents to the Salary Survey, learn how IT professionals feel about the industry’s greatest challenges and read which study materials provide the best return on investment.

If any voice is missing in this important discussion, it’s yours. We’ve started a special Salary Survey forum on the CertMag.com discussion board, and editors are anxiously awaiting your input on certification, IT salaries and the industry in general. Please visit www.certmag.com/salaryforum to share your views.

–Tim Sosbe, tsosbe@certmag.com

CertMag’s Salary Survey Methodology
CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey was conducted over a six-week period from Aug. 19 to Oct. 3, 2005. Two methods were used to obtain responses. First, e-mails that contained a link to the online survey were sent to Certification Magazine subscribers asking them to participate. Second, the survey was accessed via invitations or Web site links from 28 companies and organizations.

For the survey, 35,167 IT professionals in 170 countries provided data, The margin of error is no more than +/- 1.0 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. Surveys were data-entered, computer-processed and analyzed by Litchfield Research, a full-service market-research firm specializing in the publishing industry.

This Is Who You Are, and This Is What You Do
When reading survey data, it’s always helpful to benchmark yourself against other respondents. Apples, after all, aren’t oranges. In the fruit salad that was CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey, respondents chimed in from around the world, with data coming from certified IT professionals in 170 countries. While nearly 45 percent of those respondents are from the United States, the report did cover IT experts on six continents.

According to the survey, 95.4 percent of the 35,167 respondents are certified in a technical field. Many of those are fairly recent certificants, with 73.3 percent of respondents receiving their first IT certification in the years since the 21st century began. Twenty-three percent earned their first IT certification in the 1990s.

The average respondent to the Salary Survey had 3.18 certifications, up from last year’s average of 2.96 certifications. The largest group of respondents, 23.6 percent, has just one certification, 22.6 percent have two, 17.9 percent have three, 10.9 percent have four and 7.7 percent have five. Five percent of respondents have 10 or more IT credentials.

A large majority, 84.4 percent, plan to pursue another IT certification in the coming year. This is especially significant since the survey showed 40.4 percent of respondents did not add a certification in the past year. Another 34.8 percent added one certification in the past year, 14.6 percent added two credentials, 5.5 percent added three, 2.1 percent earned four and 2.5 percent added five or more.

Respondents have been involved in IT for varying lengths of time, with 2.8 percent responding as newcomers with less than one year of IT experience and 14.8 as veterans with more than 15 years. Another 29.8 percent have been in IT for one to five years, 37.7 percent for six to 10 years and 14.7 percent for 11 to 15 years.

Most respondents, 93.3 percent, work full-time, with 3.4 percent employed part-time and 3.3 percent unemployed. Sixty percent of those employed work 40 to 50 hours per week, with 16.4 percent working more than 50 hours weekly. The survey reported that 20.7 percent of respondents work 30 to 40 hours per week, and only 2.9 percent work less than 30 hours weekly.

Most respondents, 89.9 percent, were male. As Figure 2 shows, professionals work for companies with a wide range of employee populations. Respondents have been with their current primary employer for varying lengths of time, with 19.6 percent with their current employer less than one year, 26.3 percent with their current employer for one to two years and 29.8 percent on that job three to five years. Only 7.6 percent of respondents have been with their current employer for more than 10 years.

Looking to the future, it’s anybody’s guess where employees will be next year. Nearly half of respondents, 46 percent, intend to change jobs in the coming year—another optimistic sign that the IT economy is improving.

–Tim Sosbe, tsosbe@certmag.com

Salaries by Specialty
In today’s IT industry, all signs seem to point to specialization. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise: As information technology evolves and grows more complex, it becomes much more difficult for any one person to master all or even most of its many aspects. Thus, over time, IT has more or less organically partitioned itself into a variety of interconnected niches. Many of the individuals who occupy job roles in these specialized disciplines are more important to their employers—and better compensated by them, too—than ever before.

It’s against this backdrop that CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey ranked salaries by specialization. Many of the top job roles from last year are back, but there have been a few significant changes. Most notably, information security, which placed fourth last year, vaulted to the top of the heap in 2005. Its practitioners reported that they earn nearly $93,000 a year, compared to $78,910 in 2004. That’s a jump of nearly 15 percent in a single year. (Evidently, all the buzz around security is much more than just hype.)

Professionals in the former number-one specialty—system design—shouldn’t be too upset, though. While their occupation dropped to fifth on this list, their average annual income grew by more than $2,000. Information storage has held fast in its spot in second place for two straight years, and has seen its salary average swell by almost $6,000. Likewise, network design has stayed at third through both years, yet seen actual income increase by nearly $5,000. Project management, a rapidly rising area of IT, crept up only two spots on this ranking, but its earnings power was boosted by almost $8,000. Figure 3 shows a selection of specializations and their related salaries.

As for where survey respondents are working, a few predictable IT-centric sectors were near the top. However, those polled were spread out fairly evenly in this regard, providing a solid cross-section for the study: Only one industry—computer and network consulting—held more than 10 percent of those who participated. Finance, banking and accounting; education; and government at the local, state and federal levels were among the top non-IT sectors in the survey. The relatively level distribution of these professionals across a broad spectrum of industries demonstrates how organizations of all kinds rely heavily on IT. It also shows that when it comes to employment opportunities, IT pros have few limitations.

–Brian Summerfield, brians@certmag.com

Outsourcing and Other Certifiable Concerns
Even with the recession over, the IT industry can be a frightening place with a lot of demons lurking in the shadows. CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey charted some of those potential pitfalls, but also showed that some of the biggest monsters are becoming less threatening.

For years now, outsourcing and offshoring have been the biggest worries facing U.S.-based certified professionals, with many thinking they would lose work as IT jobs were shipped to outside contracting firms and professionals in countries like India, China and Russia. The survey showed that those concerns exist, but also showed decreasing reasons why they should.

For the purpose of the global survey, outsourcing was defined as companies hiring outside IT help from within the borders of a respondent’s country. Offshoring was defined as a company hiring outside IT help from foreign providers. Among respondents, 47.2 percent are very concerned about outsourcing of IT jobs and 49.6 percent are extremely concerned about offshoring. However, only 8.6 percent of respondents have lost work in the past year due to outsourcing and only 6.2 percent have lost work this year due to offshoring. What’s more, outsourcing has been beneficial to some careers, with 23.1 percent of respondents receiving work through outsourcing in the past year. Offshoring had a lesser beneficial effect, with 8.3 percent receiving work through offshoring.

Figure 4 shows the percentage of IT professionals around the world concerned about IT market issues.

Generally speaking, IT professionals are positive about the state of IT today. Among respondents, 37.3 percent have a high level of confidence that the IT industry is economically healthy and still improving. Only 11.1 percent of respondents felt the IT industry was still mired in recessionary times.

Looking ahead, most certified IT professionals are expecting good things, or at least not expecting bad. The survey shows 66.6 percent of respondents expect their companies to hire additional IT professionals in 2006. In terms of their own jobs, 92.6 percent of respondents did not experience a layoff or have their hours cut in 2005 and 92.8 percent expect no adverse job actions in 2006.

–Tim Sosbe, tsosbe@certmag.com

Certification: The Benefits Abound
While the lure of higher salaries is one of the driving forces behind certification, IT professionals understand well that professional credentialing also offers riches of a non-financial nature. According to CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey, certified IT professionals believe certification makes them more confident, more productive and more promotable.

According to the survey of certified professionals globally, 62.5 percent of respondents have a high level of confidence that certification makes them feel more confident in their work and 57.4 percent enjoy more respect from managers and colleagues thanks to certification. Perhaps most importantly, 51.6 percent of respondents believe being certified leads to a greater demand for their professional services.

Respondents also felt that certification benefits productivity. Among respondents, 45.6 percent have a high level of confidence that certification increased productivity, and 47.3 percent cited increased problem-solving skills. Figure 5 on page 24 shows additional benefits of achieving certification and the percentages of respondents who agree or strongly agree that they’ve received those benefits.

Perhaps more important than how certification makes IT professionals feel is how employers feel about certified IT professionals. This year’s survey shows slightly less financial support than CertMag’s 2004 Salary Survey. This year, 45.4 percent of respondents reported paying for their own certification, up from 37.9 percent last year. Last year, 48 percent of employers paid the entire bill, down to 41.7 percent this year. The remaining 12.9 percent of 2005 respondents shared the cost with their employers.

In terms of job movement, 29.4 percent of this year’s respondents earned a promotion within the first year of receiving what they consider their primary certification. Among those respondents, 60.4 percent think certification played a significant role in the promotion. Perhaps even better, 43.8 percent of survey respondents received a raise within the first year of receiving that promotion, and 49.4 percent of those feel certification was a significant factor in earning the bigger paycheck.

There wasn’t a lot of job movement beyond those promotions charted in the Salary Survey. Among respondents, 35.7 percent took another job within a year of receiving a certification, 22.5 percent of those in the same company. The lion’s share of respondents, 64.3 percent, stayed in their same position.

Still, respondents generally felt their employers are supportive of certification, with 43.6 percent believing their companies are strongly supportive of certified professionals.

–Tim Sosbe, tsosbe@certmag.com

IT Info: Gender, Age & Education
Not surprisingly, who you are makes a big difference in how much you earn. Whether you’re male or female, 18 or 62 years old, or have earned your high-school diploma or a doctorate degree, those factors can affect your salary, according to CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey.

The survey shows that the IT industry continues to be male-dominated, with women representing only 10.1 percent of respondents, a slight increase from last year, when women represented 9.7 percent of respondents. Women reported slightly higher average salaries than men, just as last year. This year, women earned an average salary of $50,360, while men earned $49,900—just 0.91 percent higher. Last year, women’s average salaries were 2.1 percent higher than men’s. These results show that on average, women in IT are doing better than the average woman working in the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2003, women who worked full-time earned 75.5 percent as much as men.

Nearly half of respondents fall in the 25-to-34 age bracket, and another 27.6 percent are between 35 and 44 years old. Because knowledge and expertise increase as one gains more experience in the industry, it should come as no surprise that as age increases, salary generally increases as well. (See Figure 6.) Respondents who are younger than 25 earn less than $21,000 on average, and the numbers build from there. The highest average salaries are earned by respondents older than 55. All three of these age brackets saw average salaries of more than $71,000. Respondents younger than 30 saw their average salaries fall this year from last year’s reported numbers. For example, a 19- to 24-year-old respondent earned $20,690 this year, compared with $23,780 last year. Those under 18 saw their average salaries drop from $20,450 to $16,250. All age groups over 30 saw increases in average salary.

Most respondents have completed at least some college work. About a quarter have completed only a high-school diploma or technical training. Nearly 9 percent have earned an associate’s degree. More than 36 percent have earned a bachelor’s degree, and 22 percent have earned a master’s or doctorate. There’s no arguing that the more education one pursues, the higher his or her salary grows. A doctorate-level degree generates the highest average income among respondents, at $68,160, while those respondents who reported having a high-school diploma only earned $43,150 on average. Those with a four-year bachelor’s degree earned an average $53,320.

–Emily Hollis, ehollis@certmag.com

Certifications: Study Materials, Costs and Quality
Throughout the certification process—from preparing with various study tools and techniques through taking and passing the examinations—identifying and calculating the value of your investment is critical to determine whether or not it is worth the cost, time and effort. And because a return is the goal of an investment, CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey asked respondents to evaluate and rank the training and study methods they used, as well as the quality of their primary certification’s program.

According to the survey, on average, respondents spent less to earn their certifications this year than in 2004. The survey analyzed the costs for preparation materials alone, as well as the cost of preparation materials combined with testing and other mandatory costs required to earn certification. On average, 78.8 percent of respondents spent less than $1,000 on training materials alone, with 63.8 percent spending less than $500. However, when testing costs are added to the mix, only 37.6 percent spent less than $500 on certification. This year, respondents spent, on average, $1,029 on materials alone to get their primary certification, compared to $1,039 last year. The survey shows that 65.9 percent spent less than $2,000 on certification overall, with respondents spending an average of $2,580 this year, whereas they typically spent $2,620 last year.

Respondents ranked the value of various study materials and methods as well. The survey showed, like previous surveys have, that on-the-job training, self-study books and practice exams are used and considered valuable among respondents. Seventy-three percent of respondents found on-the-job training very valuable or extremely valuable. Self-study books were ranked the second-most-valued preparation material by respondents at 71.1 percent, and practice exams were valued at 70.6 percent. (See Figure 8.) The number of respondents who did not use instructor-led training rose from last year’s 23 percent to 26.1 percent. In fact, the number of respondents who value instructor-led training dropped to 43.8 percent from 45.7 percent in 2004. In addition, despite the fact that brain dumps are unethical Web sites of “real” exam questions and/or answers, whose use may violate the terms of one’s agreement with the certification vendor, 17.1 percent of respondents said they found brain dumps very valuable or extremely valuable in their exam preparation.

When it comes to the preparation materials and testing associated with their primary certification program, most respondents were satisfied with the overall experience. Respondents ranked the quality of the learning materials the highest, with 64.2 percent finding it was excellent or very good, and the quality of the examination followed with 57.6 percent. (See Figure 9.) Compared to last year’s survey, the quality of tests or exams improved by a little more than 3 percent. However, 10.5 percent of this year’s respondents ranked their primary certification’s exams as either poor or fair. And although 38.5 percent of respondents felt that the value for their primary certification was excellent or very good, 23.2 percent said it was poor or fair. Overall, respondents reported that certification was a worthwhile investment that ultimately leads to a positive return.

–Cari McLean, carim@certmag.com

IT Salaries: A Global Look
Salaries increased in most of the 170 countries whose IT professionals responded to CertMag’s 2005 Salary Survey. Figure 10 shows a selection of salary data from these countries. Nine new countries were added to the list this year, including Croatia, Greece, Kuwait, Jordan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The top three countries in terms of IT salary kept their places for the second year running. The highest-paid IT professionals in the survey this year live in Switzerland, with an average salary of $83,420, followed by those in Denmark and the United States, with $70,590 and $68,890, respectively. The United Kingdom, whose IT professionals were the fourth highest-paid in 2004, fell to the seventh position, while Japanese IT workers jumped from 10th place to fifth, with a surprising $14,300 increase in average IT salary. Respondents from Norway also saw a fairly hefty average increase of nearly $10,000, and jumped from fifth place to fourth in terms of IT salary. Also of note, IT professionals in Ireland, whose government has been courting international business, saw their average salaries rise and also achieved a spot in the top 10 this year.

The lowest-paid IT professionals who responded to this year’s survey live in Egypt, followed by Romania, Vietnam, Pakistan and Peru. Last year, Russia and Thailand occupied these lowest-paid slots. In 2005, Russian respondents saw a salary increase of just over $4,000, and IT workers in Thailand who responded to the survey reported an average $1,060 salary increase. Respondents in several countries saw their IT salaries drop by more than $1,000, including Egypt, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Portugal and Belgium.

Respondents in countries that are common recipients of outsourcing/offshoring deals, such as Russia, India and China, saw salary increases this past year, though their salaries are still less than half of those of IT professionals in the countries that saw the highest pay.

–Emily Hollis, ehollis@certmag.com



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