Hot IT Salaries: How Education & Location Influence IT Salaries
Employers just can't find enough workers to fill IT jobs, experts say. What are these abundant IT jobs, and where are IT salaries the highest? And what about information technology workers' education-is a bachelor's degree sufficient, or is more education required?
By Kristina Cowan
Jim Lanzalotto thinks these are the good old days for technology workers and hot IT jobs.
Lanzalotto, vice president of strategy and marketing at Yoh, a talent and outsourcing firm, said, "The market as a whole is incredibly strong and the lack of IT workers is making a difference. There are just not enough people to do all the work in software development."
So what are these IT jobs, and how well do they pay?
PayScale data show that one of the highest-paid IT jobs is that of a senior software engineer-developer-programmer: The median income is $83,548.
Lanzalotto said that figure is in keeping with his experience and that, according to the Yoh Index of Technology Wages, in February pay rates for highly skilled IT workers reached their highest average since 2001 (the year Yoh started measuring).
One factor that drives what software engineers make is where they live. PayScale numbers show the top five highest salaries by city for senior software engineers are New York, at $111,200, the San Francisco Bay area, at $110,400, Boulder, Colo., at $98,700, San Diego, at $98,700, and Seattle, at $98,100.
Tim Bosse, executive vice president of Hudson's IT and telecommunications practice, said he was initially surprised Boulder made the list, but the IT market in that area "has been picking up nicely over the last few years, so that might be indicative of the supply-and-demand variable."
Cost of living also plays a role in determining IT salaries. Lanzalotto pointed out that someone who works in New York doing the same job as a worker in Florida will earn more because of cost-of-living differences.
Information Technology Workers' Education: How School Pays Off When It Comes to IT Salaries
If you’re looking to make a high salary in IT, education is key, experts say-both higher education and continuing education.
It's a good idea, Lanzalotto said, to get a master's degree and keep building on it with certifications.
"The more certified you are, the greater defense you have for higher IT salaries. With technology workers you get paid more the more you do and the more you know," he said.
Bosse agreed. Because technology changes so swiftly, he said, continuing education is emphasized more in IT than in other sectors.
"When you have downtime, when you're not billable to a client, the big consulting firms ... do expect you to be augmenting your professional development and training. Even if you're only down for a few weeks, there are courses they want you to take," Bosse said.
According to PayScale data, software engineers with a master of science degree in computer science have a median salary of $72,637. Those with a bachelor of science degree in computer science earn $63,558.
Kristina Cowan is the senior writer for PayScale.com. She has over 10 years of journalism experience, specializing in education and workforce issues. Email Kristina Cowan.
Related Salary Data: IT Job Salaries - National Median IT Salaries