Getting more pay as an IT guy

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If your skills are hot, your pay is pretty cool. More than half of IT professionals are earning premiums because of their certified and noncertified skills, according to a new report released this week.

Some 51% of IT workers are earning some form of additional compensation–often a bigger base salary–because they have skills that employers are hungry for or are afraid to lose.

“Retention is a problem, a bad problem,” says David Foote, president and chief research officer at Foote Partners LLC, which this week released a new survey report of pay and skills trends for 54,000 IT workers in the United States and Canada.

“When it comes to pay, you need to be as creative as possible–you need to find ways to compensate key technical, customer, process, and business skills,” says Foote. Yet most companies “don’t want to mess with job titles,” he says. So instead of paying all SAP developers the same salary, a company might increase the pay of the developer who’s an expert in a certain hot module, says Foote.

In fact, SAP developers with skills in modules like payroll and HR are among those getting the highest salary premiums right now–from 10% to 14% more stuffed into their base pay, he says.

During the high-tech boom of the 1990s, many companies offered bonuses to find and keep hot talent. But those bonuses fell to the wayside at many companies during the recession. Plus, many industries, like manufacturing, just don’t have the “culture” of bonuses, whereas in industries like financial services “bonuses are liberal,” says Foote.

So nowadays many companies are adding the premium pay into the base salary of workers that “they want to keep around,” he says.

During the second quarter of 2006, pay premiums for 122 certified skills came to an average of 8.3% of base salary for a single skill.

Among the certified skills that yielded the biggest salary boosts during the second quarter of 2006 were application development and programming languages, which added an average premium of 8% to base pay.

Among noncertified expertise in the second quarter, techies with enterprise business applications skills got an average premium of 8% as a percentage of base pay.

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