IT Gets its Groove Back

A year and a half ago, David Collins was trying to move from contracting work to a full-time position in IT. With rampant downsizing and a flood of new graduates, the job market was looking bleak in central Ohio, where he lives. "I knew of candidates with 20 years of experience and master's degrees who were taking entry-level positions just to get back into the industry," he says.

Mon, April 08, 2013
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In some cases, technological developments that were supposed to make IT's life easier are at least partly to blame. "Virtualization was supposed to make everything easier, right? Wrong," says George Theochares, IT director at Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy, a law firm in Boston. "They just expect more out of you. Where I used to maintain a dozen machines, I'm now managing 50 or 60 [virtual servers]." And as reliance on technology increases, business users' expectations are higher than ever. "In the past, if we were down a few hours or even a day, people didn't panic, but that's not the case anymore," Theochares says.

The consumerization of IT is also increasing pressure on tech professionals -- without an accompanying increase in pay. "In the last three years, it's become harder to keep up," says Eric Shaver, senior vice president of IT at The Plateau Group, an insurance holding company in Crossville, Tenn., that specializes in credit insurance and other loan-related products for financial institutions.

More pay, more pressure

Workload woes persist

Despite a growing optimism that the IT profession is a promising place to be, tech workers still see room for improvement, particularly in the correlation between salaries and workloads. In the 2013 Computerworld Salary Survey, only 23% of the respondents said that their salaries are keeping pace with business growth and demands.

Asked whether they think they are paid fairly, slightly more than half (51%) said they are underpaid based on their role and responsibility, and 85% reported pressure to increase productivity or take on new tasks.

George Theochares, IT director at Campbell Campbell Edwards & Conroy, says "compensation has not kept up, and working conditions have remained the same, with long hours and unrealistic expectations." Theochares has not had a raise in three years, and his bonuses have decreased. But he still believes that an IT career can be promising -- if techies continually hone their skills and keep an eye out for new opportunities.

Samuel Satyanathan -- who recently accepted a new position at a telecommunications company -- observes, "the best way for me to get a raise was to accept a new job." At his previous employer, he felt slightly underpaid for his experience level compared with his peers at other organizations, and he found it difficult to move up over time. Annual raises were averaging 3% or less, he says, whereas job offers posted on the open market listed salaries that were 10% higher than what he was making.

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