You probably won't find a lot of sympathy for technology professionals who are disheartened because they had to endure a second straight year of nearly flat salaries -- especially since they garnered, on average, salary increases of about 1 percent*, which brought the average annual salary to $79,384, up from $78,845 in 2009. That's according to the 2011-2010 Annual Salary Survey from Dice.com, a career site for technology and engineering professionals.
At least half of of those polled said that they appreciate the fact that they have jobs, even if they're not getting raises. The survey found that 50 percent were "somewhat" or "very satisfied" with their compensation, an increase from 46 percent of respondents who felt that way last year.
It also appears that starting wages have dropped slightly across the tech-sector for entry level jobs. For the second straight year, the average salaries of technology professionals with less than two years experience have declined, and are 6 percent below what the peak average wages were in 2008.
Still, you can't deny that the technology industry is one of the best to be in, because of the high demand for workers. "Companies can no longer get away with paltry salary increases for their technology staffs based on the demand we are seeing for talent," said Tom Silver, SVP, North America at Dice. "Retention is the key to driving additional contributions to the business from technology staffs."
The hottest jobs and what they pay
By analyzing the frequency skills appear in job postings on Dice, a core set of essential skills emerges for technology professionals.
Currently, Oracle experience is requested in more than 15,000 job postings on any given day**, which represent nearly a quarter of all job postings on Dice. Demand for Oracle skills is up 57 percent. The national average salary for technology professionals with Oracle Database experience is $90,914 and the average for professionals with Oracle Application Server experience is $88,063.
Following Oracle is J2EE/Java experience, with 14,663 job postings (up 50 percent), and C-based language experience, with 14,123 job postings (up 46 percent). Technology professionals proficient in J2EE/Java earn an average of $91,060, while programmers specializing in the C-based languages earn between $85,500 and $90,350 on average.
The average salary for project managers is $100,143, but readers should note that listings requesting project management experience come combined with a wide variety of other skill sets. The number of listings requesting project management experience was 12,513, up 50 percent.
Rounding out the top five is SQL experience, with 11,875 job postings, up 47 percent, with an average salary of $84,375.
And the demand is not just in California's Silicon Valley. "The revival of employment demand for technology professionals started about this time last year in Silicon Valley. Very quickly, companies are facing higher compensation costs, retention troubles, and shortages in certain skill-sets," said Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com. "This experience provides a road map for employers outside of Silicon Valley, because demand is strengthening across the country for tech talent."
Average tech salaries in New York ($87,298) and the Washington, D.C./Baltimore corridor ($89,149) inched higher, while average salaries in Atlanta ($82,944) and Philadelphia ($81,986) jumped 5 percent –- the strongest performance in any of the top 10 metropolitan markets. Two markets that showed declines in average technology salaries were Los Angeles which dropped 4 percent to $84,551, and Chicago, where average technology salaries declined 1 percent to $79,933.
* All percentages are listed in comparison to the previous 12-month period.
** All job posting numbers are in terms of average number of daily listings for the same 12-month period.