Salaries, Bonuses Jump for Tech Pros and Newbies

In eight U.S. metro areas, average tech salaries are above the six-figure mark

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Jan 28, 2016
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Average technology salaries in the U.S. saw their biggest year-over-year leap ever in 2015, up 7.7 percent to $96,370, according to an annual salary survey by Dice, a careers site for technology professionals. Among other key findings:

62 percent of tech professionals reported earning higher salaries in 2015, and almost half did so as a result of upward mobility at the same company.

Bonuses also have become more commonplace in the tech industry. The average bonus last year was $10,194, a 7 percent increase from 2014.

Tech industry contract workers saw a 5 percent rise in hourly compensation last year, with contractors earning $70.26 per hour. Tech contractors working in the industrial/chemical, professional services, health care and utilities/energy segments were paid higher than overall tech contract rates.

Tighter Job Market

The pay hikes come, in part, as a way to attract talent in a highly competitive industry.

“Demand for skilled talent and low unemployment rates for tech professionals aren't making the hiring landscape any easier,” said Bob Melk, president of San Francisco-based Dice.

In fact, average salary increases were greatest among new technology workers (one to two years of experience), suggesting there is wage pressure for entry-level technology jobs, and employers are willing to pay for fresh talent.

Tech professionals' confidence in their job prospects remained high, with 67 percent claiming that they could find a favorable new position. More than a third (39 percent) say they intend to change employers in the upcoming year.

Six-Figure Salaries in Top Metros

Average tech salaries in seven U.S. metro areas reached six figures for the first time since the survey began more than a decade ago. Already accustomed to average salaries over $100,000, Silicon Valley, Calif., tech pros were again the highest paid in the country. Other top-earning markets spread from coast to coast and included a not-traditionally-recognized tech city: Minneapolis.

Metro Area

2015 Average
Tech Salary

Average Annual
Increase

Silicon Valley, Calif.

$118,243

5%

New York City

$106,263

11%

Los Angeles

$105,091

10%

Boston

$103,675

7%

Seattle

$103,309

4%

Baltimore/Washington, D.C.

$102,873

5%

Minneapolis

$100,379

9%

Portland, Ore.

$100,309

10%

Source: Dice


“As more businesses look to build out their tech infrastructures, professionals with ‘big data’ or cloud expertise continue to serve as high-priority candidates,” said Melk.

Starting STEM Salaries Advance

Looking more broadly at pay for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) professionals, graduates from the STEM disciplines are expected to receive the highest starting salaries among Class of 2016 bachelor's degree graduates, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

NACE's Winter 2016 Salary Survey report indicates that the overall average salary for bachelor's degree graduates earning engineering degrees is projected to be $64,891, up 3 percent over the average salary projection of $62,998 for engineering graduates from the Class of 2015.

The computer science field is second in terms of starting salary, with an overall average starting salary projected at $61,321. Two of the three reported computer science disciplines top the $60,000 mark, while the third—information science and systems—falls just below that mark at $59,810.

Projected Average Salaries for Graduates ( Bachelor's Degrees)

Undergraduate Major

2016 Average
Starting Salary

2015 Average
Starting Salary

Engineering

$64,891

$62,998

Computer Science

$61,321

$61,287

Math and Sciences

$55,087

$56,171

Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers


STEM jobs in the U.S. are expected to grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM professions in the coming years, according to 2016’s Best & Worst Metro Areas for STEM Professionals, an analysis by the personal-finance website WalletHub.

Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow me on Twitter.

Related SHRM Article:

IT, Cybersecurity Salaries on the Rise, SHRM Online Technology, January 2016

Recruiting the Class of 2016, SHRM Online Staffing Management, January 2016

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