2011-2010 Dice Salary Survey

Technology professionals endured a second straight year of nearly flat salaries, according to the 2011‐2010 Annual Salary Survey from Dice, the leading career site for technology and engineering professionals. Tech workers, on average, garnered salary increases of about one percent (0.7%) to $79,384 from $78,845 in 2009, after receiving a similar increase the previous year.

Despite the marginal increase, there are glimmers of the business recovery within the study. Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) received a salary increase in 2010 compared to just 36 percent who saw raises in the previous year. And more technology professionals received bonuses: 29 percent compared with 24 percent of respondents in 2009.

Tech professionals expressed slightly more satisfaction over pay than last year, with 50 percent “somewhat” or “very satisfied,” an increase from 46 percent of respondents who felt that way last year. Still, nearly four out of ten technology professionals anticipate they could make more money if they change employers in 2011. Those professionals (24%) who felt switching employers would not increase their pay earned, on average, nearly $13,000 more than those who anticipate finding higher salaries elsewhere.

“Companies can no longer get away with paltry salary increases for their technology staffs based on the demand we are seeing for talent,” said Tom Silver, SVP, North America at Dice. “The moderate increases in satisfaction levels indicate that tech professionals’ concerns are being heard by some companies, but certainly not all. Retention is the key to driving additional contributions to the business from technology staffs. Employers that are reluctant to increase compensation or step‐up retention efforts will likely pay for their unsatisfactory ways.”

Notwithstanding the hopeful signs in the study, it appears wages have been reset lower for technology professionals who are entering the field. For the second straight year, the average salaries of technology professionals with less than two years experience have declined, and are six percent below their peak average wages in 2008.

There are two clear cut paths for technology professionals to earn more money: working for a larger company and/or continuing to add expertise and skills. First, technology professionals on average earned $88,075 working for companies in excess of 5,000 employees, while the smallest companies (50 or fewer employees) paid on average $69,658 to their technology workers. As for skills, those with annual wages of $100,000 or more were technology professionals with experience in Advanced Business Application Programming ($105,887), Informatica ($101,898), Extract Transform and Load ($100,983) and Service Oriented Architecture ($101,827).

Most Popular Skills and Average Wages

By analyzing the frequency skills appear in job postings on Dice, a core set of skills emerges for technology professionals.

Currently, Oracle experience is requested in more than 15,000 job postings on any given day or nearly a quarter of all job postings on Dice. Demand for that top requested skill is up 57 percent year/year. The national average salary for technology professionals with experience in Oracle Database is $90,914 and for Oracle Application Server is $88,063.

Following Oracle, J2EE/Java (14,663 job postings, up 50% yr/yr) and C, C++, C# (14,123 job postings, up 46% yr/yr) are the most frequently requested skills. Technology professionals proficient in J2EE/Java earn on average $91,060, while programmers specializing in the C languages earn between $85,500 and $90,350 on average.

The average salary for Project Managers is $100,143, but companies request project management experience in wide variety of job postings (12,513, up 50% yr/yr) making solid project management skills a must.

Rounding out the top five is SQL (11,875, up 47% yr/yr), the programming language, with an average salary of $84,375.

Raises Return to Silicon Valley

After a slip in average salaries last year, paychecks for technology talent in Silicon Valley increased three percent to an average salary of $99,028. In addition, 35 percent of Valley respondents received a bonus in 2010, as compared to just 26 percent in 2009.

The steps employers are taking on compensation are sparking higher levels of satisfaction. More than half (52%) of Silicon Valley tech pros reported they are satisfied with their salaries, as compared to 46 percent who were satisfied last year. That gain comes directly from previously dissatisfied technology professionals which fell from 37 percent in 2009 to 31 percet currently.

“The revival of employment demand for technology professionals started about this time last year in Silicon Valley. Very quickly, companies are facing higher compensation costs, retention troubles, and shortages in certain skill‐sets,” said Alice Hill, Managing Director of Dice.com. “This experience provides a roadmap for employers outside of Silicon Valley, because demand is strengthening across the country for tech talent.”

Average salaries in New York ($87,298) and the Washington D.C./Baltimore corridor ($89,149) inched higher year/year, while average salaries in Atlanta ($82,944) and Philadelphia ($81,986) jumped five percent year/year – the strongest performance in any of the top 10 metropolitan markets. Two markets showed declines in average technology salaries, Los Angeles dropped four percent to $84,551 and in Chicago average technology salaries declined one percent to $79,933.

Dice Salary Survey Methodology

The Dice Salary Survey was administered online with 19,798 employed technology professionals from the Dice community responding between August 31 and November 15, 2010. Respondents were invited to participate in the survey through a notification on the Dice home page, and registered technology professionals were sent an email invitation. A cookie methodology was used to ensure that there was no duplication of responses between or within the various sample groups and duplicate responses from a single email address were removed.