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April 17, 2014

Employers Paying a Premium for Big Data Skills

George Leopold

U.S. tech salaries rose nearly 3 percent in 2013 to an average of $87,811, up from $86,619 the previous year, according to salary survey. Big data skills attracted some of the biggest salaries.

Employment researcher Dice Tech said its survey found that 45 percent of tech professionals reporting salary increases in 2013 said they received a merit pay increase. The survey found that bonuses are increasingly being used to retain experienced tech professionals while salary increases were the norm for IT tech pros with one to five years of experience.

People with Hadoop- and NoSQL-related skills commanded top salaries, according to Dice Tech’s latest survey.

Thirty-four percent of survey respondents said they received a bonus as part of their 2013 compensation. Average bonuses totaled $9,323.

“Employers are using selective and strategic increases in compensation to hold onto experienced tech talent,” the survey found. “While the overall average salary increase was smaller than the previous year’s historic jump of more than five percent, employers offered more frequent merit increases.”

The average salary for IT workers has been steadily rising since 2005. The last average decline in 2004 was 2.3 percent.

With technology unemployment relatively low, the survey found that “salary satisfaction” actually slipped in 2013 despite the average annual increase. The survey’s barometer for salary satisfaction fell three percentage points in 2013 to 54 percent. The majority of those surveyed said they were confident they could find new jobs in the tech sector.

One reason for growing dissatisfaction among tech workers is that corporations continue to squeeze IT budgets, meaning managers must do more for less.

Location and cost-of-living considerations remain critical determinants of knowledge worker satisfaction. Silicon Valley, the hub of technology innovation, topped the 2013 salary survey with average compensation totaling just over $108,000, a hefty 7.2 percent increase over the previous year.

The Baltimore-Washington, D.C. region, whose economy is fueled by federal contracts, ranked No. 2 on the 2013 salary survey at $97,588. Year-on-year, that total represented a modest 0.3 percent decline as the effects of federal budget sequestration began to bite.

Los Angeles ($95,815), Seattle ($95,048) and Boston ($94,531) rounded out the top 5 cities for tech workers.

Rice added that most of the top ten tech employment markets registered salary increases over the previous year. Raises and bonuses were either at or above the national average.

As for specific skills, the survey found that big data-related programming languages and database experience were attracting to the biggest paychecks. No less than nine of the top ten salaries were related to big data technologies, the survey found.

“Companies are betting big that harnessing data can play a major role in their competitive plans and that is leading to high pay for critical skills,” Dice President Shravan Goli said in a statement.

“Technology professionals should be volunteering for big data projects, which makes them more valuable to their current employer and more marketable to other employers.”

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