Salary Survey Data Trends - IT Jobs

by Lyle Leritz, Ph.D. 12. November 2012 09:43

Organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada are currently submitting compensation data for use in ERI’s traditional, industry-specific and job function surveys. As our research team continues to prepare incoming data for the 2013 reports, we’ve examined some data trends from previous years for executives and administrative jobs. This post focuses on computer-related positions. First, let’s recap the analysis.

Our analysis compares salaries between all 2011 and 2012 submissions for both nonprofit and for-profit reports. For each year, total averages were calculated by job title and included all available data (that is, industry and area breakouts were ignored) to maximize sample size (akin to a national report).

The preliminary dataset included 852 job titles common to reports from both years. The 2011 data included 24,264 incumbents from 448 unique organizations, while the 2012 data had 37,814 incumbents from 601 unique organizations. Titles with fewer than 10 observations in either year were dropped from the analysis, resulting in 196 titles for comparison. In an effort to show meaningful patterns, the job titles were grouped into job families.

Generally speaking, wage rates for 65% of the benchmark jobs increased from 2011 to 2012. Across the entire sample, the average change in salary was 3.6%. Please note, this is not a comparison of the same person in the same job (as was the case in “Is CEO Base Pay Dropping?”), so these are not realized increases/decreases for an individual.

While not as ubiquitous as administrative jobs, computer-related positions are a large and growing part of the national work force. As mentioned in the analysis on administrative jobs, computer-based positions have recently been subjected to both sides of a volatile job market. While that volatility has subsided a great deal, there still exists some up and down wage movement in this job family. As you can see in the table below, organizations reported higher salaries in 2012 for five of the eight computer-based titles, ranging from 8% to 14%. Survey results for DB Administrator and PC Specialist decreased in 2012. Additionally, Programmer Analyst stayed nearly the same.


2011 Salary

2012 Salary


Computer Network Administrator




Computer Programmer




Database Administrator




LAN/WAN Administrator




PC Specialist




Programmer Analyst




Systems Administrator









In general, survey data for computer-based jobs exhibited a fair amount of variability from 2011 to 2012 (although not as wide of a range as found with executive jobs). Given the technology sector’s recent history with wild ups and downs, it is not overly surprising to find what some might consider a moderately substantial range of increases in the computer-based job family. The trend moving forward for this job family appears to be wage growth. However, it is important to keep in mind that a typical salary survey methodology does not constrain analysis to person-matched data from year to year (for a number of logistical reasons, including adversely impacting sample size), nor are surveys restricted to the same list of participants.