Your salary: Putting your pay into perspective

28 Oct 1998 View Comments
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From the slick-suited dizzy heights of head of management services to the lowly non-graduate trainee, IT is a career path paved with gold. But the speed at which this labour market moves makes scoring too few krugerands all too easy ? unless you have good information.

The data collected on these two pages, based on the salaries of 8,300 IT staff, will provide you with that information. The NCC survey is based on real salaries at 484 organisations, and as such is one of the most reliable sources of pay data in IT. Surveys using data such as advertised salaries can be misleading as they show what IT departments want other people to think they pay. The NCC by contrasts researches what they actually pay.

The first set of figures (see chart on right) gives you an idea of how often your job group moves ? and how easy you are to replace. A high shortage level, as perceived by respondents to the survey, suggests you may be able to force your boss to pay you more if your pay languishes below the average. A high-turnover rate along with a low-shortage level, however, suggests operational staff walk out of the door on a regular basis, but easy to replace.

The second set (see chart above) of data concerns a less obvious part of the pay package: perks. Across three major job areas ? IT management, systems and support, and operational staff ? the NCC surveyed the percentage of posts receiving each perk. IT managers get the best deal, 58% drove a company car, 49% enjoyed private health insurance, and 47% cashed in with a bonus scheme. On the other hand, when it comes to overtime pay, they do not fare so well.

The third set of data (see chart on right) gives you information on mean average salaries for two key job groups, systems development staff and managers, sliced three ways. It organises the data by region first, where there is an expected bias towards London.

Although our friends in the north ? whom we met in last week?s salary feature ? are at the bottom of the systems development ladder at #23,783, there is not that much separating them from those in the south-east, whose average pay is 10.7% more. And let?s face it, housing prices in the south-east are likely to swallow most of that.

For managers, salaries in south-west England and Wales are lowest, although again, only London stands out as being dramatically different to the rest of the UK. The comparison between managers and systems developers continues by sector (see top chart, far right). The high rates for IT skills in financial and business services partly explain London?s high salary levels ? the capital has a disproportionate share of those high-paying industries.

Systems developers? pay is also compared with IT managers in terms of department size (see bottom chart, right). Unsurprisingly, an IT manager?s pay climbs with his or her staff numbers, although this does not seem to apply above 50 staff. The increases are less dramatic for developers.

The last set of data (see chart at foot of page) shows rates for salaries of 30 job groups. Four figures are given for each role. We use the usual definition of the mean average ? what you get if you add up all the salaries and divide by the number of people in the sample.

The lower quartile, median and upper quartile are slightly different. If you line up all the staff in a certain group ? helpdesk staff, for example ? in order of salary, then pick out the pony-tailed, combat-trousered individual exactly half way along the line, then they are getting the median salary of #14,630. In other words, they outearn exactly half their peers.

If you then find the person half-way between the median earner and the lowest paid ? the one who patronises you when you forget your password ? then their salary of #12,627 is the lower quartile salary. Similarly, the severe-looking woman with pointy specs who saves the contents of your hard-disk when you contract a fatal virus, standing half-way between median and top, gets the upper quartile income of #17,210 ? she can look down on 75% of her colleagues. It?s that simple.

On your bike How moving makes you richer

? A systems developer could earn an extra 30% by moving from the north of England to London, according to the average salaries calculated by the NCC ? A manager moving from south-west England or Wales to London would move up by 32%

? A systems developer changing industry, from government to an IT company, would score an extra 36%

? A manager doing the same stands to gain 26% l A non-graduate IT trainee could expand his or her salary by a stunning 338% by becoming a head of management services, although a few decades of experience and a decent suit would be very handy

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