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December 28, 2015
By Lisa Dare

If you want to know how IT salaries will change, you have to ask the people in charge of IT budgets. So we did. In October 2015 TEKsystems received survey responses from over 500 IT leaders in the U.S. and Canada. These IT leaders hail from a wide cross-section of industries, with company sizes ranging from small to over $10 billion in revenue.

The survey results reflect a theme discussed a lot in 2015: Wage growth has not risen at the same rate as economic growth. What’s surprising is that this applies to IT positions, despite an IT unemployment rate that’s effectively zero.

While most IT leaders report overall staff increases in 2016, they will be modest—generally less than 5 percent—and will not apply across the board. In fact, only about half of even the most in-demand skills will see increases at all. While organizations struggle to attract and retain IT staff, weak salary growth, along with ineffective or poorly communicated retention programs, is probably a major part of the problem.

IT salaries will increase in 2016, but how much?

While 73 percent of IT leaders say their overall staff will see salary increases in 2016, the growth will be surprisingly modest for a tight IT labor market. Only 1 percent expect to grant raises of 10 percent or more, and an additional 3 percent will award raises from 6 to 9 percent. 

  • 69% of IT leaders expect to increase overall staff salary up to 5%
  • Only 4% of IT leaders anticipate staff raises over 5%
  • Shockingly, 27% say IT workers in their departments will receive no raise at all or a salary decrease

Raises for particular IT skill sets

The top three professions IT leaders expect to grant 2016 pay increases to are:

  • Programmers and developers: 53% will see increases
  • Cloud: 52%
  • Security: 50%

Here are the responses to this question broken out by role: How do you expect your IT staff’s salaries to change in 2016 versus 2015 for the following skill sets and technologies?

Chart of IT salary increases in 2016

More salary data

If you want to peg your exact salary expectations, the government has the best data. The painstakingly collected data the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects isn’t exactly forward-looking—the most recent numbers reflect 2014 salaries—but it’s the most accurate.

  • Wage data by state: Skip to Computer and Mathematical Occupations, which includes 13 specific IT job titles, such as software developers (systems software), information security analysts and computer user support specialists
  • Wage data by metropolitan area: Includes even small-sized cities, and major metropolitan areas like Los Angeles are broken out further

What’s next?

While organization’s IT spend is increasing, that money won’t necessarily travel through the traditional IT department. With functions like marketing and HR making more of their own technology investments—often into cloud-based technologies—about half of IT budgets will remain flat in 2016. In fact, according to the survey results, marketing departments now control over one-quarter of IT spend.

This development may negatively impact staffing levels for areas like network administration and end user support, while creating opportunities for business analysts and other strategic positions.

In 2016, will you be looking for a better-paying job because of poor salary growth? Feel free to leave an anonymous response in the comments. And you can check out our full 2016 IT Forecast, or watch the video:

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