For the past few years, salaries and bonuses in information technology seemed to defy the basic laws of economics. Demand skyrocketed, but salaries and bonuses barely budged. In early 2015, a Dice.com survey reported that 72% of employers wanted to hire at least 10% more tech staffers, all while holding on to the talent they already had. Yet pay had risen a measly 2% over the previous 12 months.
That’s over now. “We’re seeing salaries catch up with the competitive market for highly skilled tech talent,” notes Dice President Bob Melk. The latest Dice report on pay suggests that employers are hoping to make up for lost time. The average salary jumped almost 8% in 2015, to $96,370, which the Dice survey notes is “the biggest year-over-year leap ever.”
Bonuses are bigger, too. In 2015, 37% of IT employees received a bonus averaging $10,194, a 7% increase over the year before. Tech professionals with more than two years’ experience were most likely to report receiving bonuses, along with IT staffers in the financial services, telecom, and entertainment and media industries.
How much techies earn depends in part on where they live. Silicon Valley, where the average salary rose 5% to $118,243 in 2015, still has the highest-paid IT employees in the U.S. But base salaries have also topped six figures, for the first time ever in six other U.S. metro areas.
They are: New York City (up 11% to an average $106,263); Los Angeles (up 10%, to $105,091); Boston (up 7%, to $103,675); Seattle (up 4%, to $103,309); Baltimore/Washington D.C. (up 5%, to $102,873); Minneapolis (up 9%, to $100,379); and Portland, Ore. (up 10%, to $100,309).
The highest-earning skills have stayed mostly the same for the past several years, according to Dice. They are clustered around expertise in big data and the cloud. The top five: HANA (average salary: $154,749); Cassandra ($147,811); Cloudera ($142,835); PAAS ($140,894); and OpenStack ($138,579).
To keep their current IT staffers and recruit new ones, employers may have to loosen the purse strings even more. Just over half (53%) of techies told Dice’s pollsters they’re satisfied with their pay, a tiny uptick over the 52% who said so last year.
“It’s time for highly skilled tech professionals to ask for more or find new jobs,” says Melk. “Opportunities await.” The 16,301 tech employees Dice surveyed seem well aware of that. About 40% say they intend to move to a different company in 2016.