For big raises in IT, look to mobile, security, big data

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IT salaries will remain mostly stagnant in 2015, except for workers with highly coveted skill sets, according to a report tracking IT salaries and skills demand in the coming years.

"When you look at the actual salaries, just speaking in general, what you see is a lot of highly paid positions. You don't see a lot of big increases," said Jack Cullen, president of IT staffing firm Modis, which presented this data in its 2015 IT salary guide. "Companies don't want to pay exorbitant rates. However, when they have a particular niche that's really hard to fill, they don't want to lose the right talent."

While pay increases for some technology jobs may be modest, these raises will "certainly be better than the normal pay increases that we are seeing in the job market," he said.

Smaller raises don't mean falling demand for IT workers. In fact, technology hiring through 2022 looks robust, Cullen said. The Modis report, citing U.S. government statistics, predicted an 18 percent annual growth rate in technology jobs and the creation of 685,000 technology jobs over the next eight years. By comparison, the growth rate for all other industries is projected at 10.8 percent.

Modis salary data shows that companies will give raises between 3 percent and 18 percent in 2015, depending on the person's skill level, Cullen said. The report noted that a company's size and location affect compensation.

It forecast hefty raises -- and strong career growth -- for IT careers involving security, big data and mobility.

IT security jobs have the highest projected growth rate, according to the report. By 2022, there will be a 37 increase in jobs in that field. The average base pay for security positions ranges from US$74,917 for a security administrator to $115,415 for a data security manager.

"There's such a concern of the cost of infraction that you are going to see this is an area where companies can't take a chance of not spending. They need to make sure that their data is protected," Cullen said.

Companies are especially concerned about securing mobile devices as more employees use personal tablets and smartphones for work tasks, so mobile security backgrounds will command higher salaries, he said.

Skills demand doesn't necessarily translate into higher salaries. Take Web application developers versed in .Net and Java, for example: The need for those programming skills will increase by 20 percent over the next eight years, according to the report. However, the salaries would "probably be more consistent to what they are today," Cullen said. The report lists $66,000 as the average salary for a Web developer, going up to as high as $85,000.

Jobs at lower end of the skills chain, such as network administration technicians, may see a pay increase that is only slightly more than the rate of inflation, Cullen said. Although those workers may leave for larger paychecks, employers are willing to accept a high turnover rate since "the feeling is, we can always find those people," he said.

One market with both strong growth potential and compensation is health IT, which has a projected value of $56.7 billion by 2017. Jobs in that sector include clinical systems trainer (average base salary: $66,710), HIPAA security analyst ($72,414) and clinical systems architect ($141,371), according to the report.

"Health IT is one of the fastest, most in-demand sectors. Compliance is critical, and penalties associated with noncompliance are very substantial, so there is going to be a continued ramp up on spending for companies involved with health IT," Cullen said. Other growth markets for IT jobs include the finance sector and small and medium-size businesses, he said.

IT jobs with increasing growth rates over the next eight years include project managers (15 percent), systems analysts (25 percent) and software developers (22 percent).

Many of those project management and business analyst roles may be filled by women, who are already taking an interest in these positions, Cullen said.

"Women are recognizing that a path to success on the business side does come from knowledge in the IT area," said Cullen. "You are seeing a lot of cross over from CIO to CEO levels now. So if you follow that path, you're seeing a large number of women looking for career opportunities in the IT sector."

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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