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Is Your Pay Keeping Pace with the Market?

By - Source: Toms IT Pro
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Credit: ShutterstockCredit: ShutterstockIf you believe you're underpaid, you're not alone. Although a majority of IT professionals around the world feel appreciated by their current employer, 59 percent believe they're underpaid, according to a recent survey by IT management tools provider Spiceworks. What's more, the same study found that 37 percent of IT pros surveyed expect to being searching for a new job this year.

Determining job worth has always been challenging, largely because many people are uncomfortable talking with others about pay. But failing to do your homework could cost you thousands of dollars, no matter where you're at in your career — whether you're just starting out, looking for a new position or planning to stay put at your current place of employment.

MORE: IT Salary Negotiation Tips

So, how do you find out if you're being paid enough?

Many people turn to online salary calculators such as and Payscale, as well as newer solutions such as LinkedIn Salary, Glassdoor's Know Your Worth, and Comparably. These services are typically free and provide a quick snapshot of salary ranges for jobs in specific regions.

However, online tools are just a starting point. Moreover, because they're based on a compilation of self-reported income data that might not be current, their usefulness is limited, according to such experts as John Reed, senior executive director at IT staffing company Robert Half Technology.

"A mistake a lot of people make is they base their salary expectations on something they saw online or an article they read," Reed says. "You have to do your homework. It's really important."

Online tools alone won't provide the level of market data needed to knowledgeably enter into salary negotiations for a new job or to make a credible case for a salary increase, according to Reed. Obtaining pay rate data that's based on actual, recent job placements in your city that match your experience and your skillset is crucial to knowing your worth in the marketplace.

Staffing and placement firms and the salary reports they publish are sources that many IT pros overlook. Unlike online surveys and salary calculators, staffing and placement firms that specialize in placing IT professionals are intimately familiar with current market rates paid by companies.

"The more information, the better," says Reed. "Review job postings, salary surveys, talk with staffing firms and review their salary guides. Then you'll have a realistic idea of actual market value."

Knowing your market value is even more important today.

IT pros stand to benefit this year from high demand in a tight labor market with low unemployment rates. Base compensation in U.S. technology fields is expected to rise by 3.8 percent in 2017, and some high demand IT jobs will see increases beyond 7 percent, according to Reed's company, Robert Half Technology.

So, now would be a good time to see if your salary is keeping pace with these market changes. That's especially true if you're qualified for jobs in high demand. 

Eight jobs are expected to see substantial increases in average starting pay this year, according to Robert Half Technology.

Job Title
% Increase from 2016
Average Starting Salary*
Front-End Web Developer (1-3 years of experience)
Mobile Designer
Data Scientist
User Experience (UX) Designer (3-5 years of experience
Big Data Engineer5.8%
Network Security Engineer5.7%
Content Strategist5.4%
Content Strategist

*All salaries listed are U.S. national averages based on data published in the 2017 Salary Guides from Robert Half Technology and The Creative Group. Actual projected salary ranges may vary depending on location. Source: Robert Half Technology

Robert Half Technology's 2017 Salary Guide for Technology Professionals was published in January and features base salary ranges for more than 75 positions in the technology field. IT staffing company Modis also published a 2017 Salary Guide, and Randstad published a 2017 Hot Jobs in 2017 guide.

Once you know your worth, should you start circulating your resume?

Reed recommends talking with your current employer first, if you like your job and the company — giving them a first right of refusal. Gather up your fact-based research and say, "I'd like to discuss adjusting my compensation to current market rates."

"But if they can't meet your expectations, be careful," Reed says. "Don't ever make a move based on money alone. That $10,000 or $15,000 increase will quickly evaporate if you look up one day and say to yourself, 'This isn't where I want to be.'"