In most instances, job seekers who are capable of framing their technical experience and interpersonal skills as a high value service receive the most job offers. And like any premium service, it deserves fair compensation. Rather than over or underbidding, job seekers need to know how to compare IT salaries to recognize offers that align with their skills.
Researching Online Salary Websites
What is the most complete source for information technology salary data? Job boards, social media platforms, and human capital websites are all using their own dedicated data to build IT salary reports. Each major provider has its own advantages and disadvantages which need to be consider as you compare IT salaries.
PayScale – The PayScale market data comes straight from tech professionals. Real-time salary surveys administered through their website gather 150,000 new records each month. Job titles are standardized in a way that has both positive and negative outcomes. PayScale’s algorithms determine which big pillar skillsets fall into what jobs (i.e. C++ Developer equals Software Engineer), but users need to be specific about skills, locations, and certifications to get more precise reports.
Salary.com – All of Salary.com’s market data is aggregated from hundreds of employer-reported surveys. Each report is an averaged overview of local, industry, and association sources reporting actual tech employee compensation. Their sources are kept confidential (due to non-disclosure agreements), but they are considered an authority on IT salary comparisons and other industries.
LinkedIn Salary – With 500 million users, LinkedIn has a wealth of IT professionals to leverage and is encouraging users to report their own tech salary data with regular survey requests. LinkedIn strives to make their salary data user friendly. Breakdowns by industry, company size, education level, and location are available in easy to explore visuals. Though the volume of their data is still growing, the social network will be an increasingly critical resource as people compare IT salaries.
Exploring the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Data
The federal government does a solid job of gathering reliable statistics on national and local marketplaces. Though their figures are less nuanced when it comes to particular technologies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides some peripheral information that is just as important as you compare IT salary information by state and city.
The BLS provides the median pay and entry level education that most of the salary websites offer. It’s a good orbital level view of industry trends, though it does not account for specific technologies or certifications. What is provided are the job outlooks for specific roles, the number of jobs expected to be added to the market, and visual data comparing states and metro IT compensation.
Look at their data for an Application Developer as an example. Their interactive U.S. maps show the total Application Developers employed, their market dispersal, and the annual mean wages on both a state and city level. For example, the Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights metro area ranks among the top 10 metropolises nationwide for their combined employment, density, and annual mean wage. There is even a way to see what the top and bottom percentiles are based on experience. It’s a great way to fill in the gaps in your knowledge with reputable data.
Measuring Your Own Experience
Your own work history and experience are the best predictors of what to expect from any future tech salary. It’s your own blend of titles, technical capabilities, and former employers that influence the range of job offers you get. Appraise your selling points accurately, and the possible compensation for your technical skills will reach their peak. Ask these questions to gain some self-awareness into what will be your most rewarding job search:
- Do your past employers appeal to one industry over others? If you’ve overseen cybersecurity for a healthcare provider or analyzed data for an oil and gas company, there will be more brand recognition among their peers.
- Are your technical skills worth more to a certain type of industry? Some niche skills or cross-section of talents will earn you far more in one sector than another.
- Does your official title accurately convey your skill set? If not, find one that more clearly depicts your worth.
Working with a Recruiter
This combines all of the others into a single step. Recruiters research tech compensation rates from private and public sources to help candidates better earn competitive compensation rates and companies recognize when their offer is below market value. They work with thousands of candidates in the local market and are well acquainted with the compensation that tech pros want.
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