MacLochlainns Weblog

Michael McLaughlin's Technical Blog

Site Admin

IT Salary Thought

with 2 comments

During the holidays, I check salaries for my students and the IT industry overall. I’m never surprised by the reality, after all salaries pay for return on skills and effort. Here’s my annual look, which some may find unkind but reality is seldom kind.

Before looking at IT salaries, it seems like a good opportunity to first look at the overall job market for Millennials in the United States. AOL provides a great graphic of the median income for Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1997), which is $18,000 to $43,000 a year:


That’s a stark contrast to Forbes’ statistics on the top college baccalaureate degrees. In fact, the top five with the highest salary are between $58 to $67 thousand a year. They are:

  1. Computer Science ………… $66,800
  2. Engineering ………………… $65,000
  3. Mathematics & Statistics … $60,300
  4. Economics ………………….. $58,600
  5. Finance ……………………… $58,000

Computer science, applied computer science, and information technology are probably lumped into the first category. Information systems, exposure without real skills, is a management degree and probably opens positions equivalent to the business degree at $50 thousand a year. More or less, that’s a nine thousand dollar difference between having real skills and being able to talk the game and supervise technical resources. (The 10 hottest IT skills for 2015 are listed in Computerworld.)

There’s no surprise that Ruby, Objective C (iPhone, iPad, Mac OS X), Python, Java, C++ are at the top of the pyramid. Starting salaries in the Salt Lake area are higher for programmers college than they are for other computer science skill sets. In fact, my informal contacts peg them as starting at $70+ thousand. That’s higher than Forbes average for computer science. Here’s a visual on experienced programmers by language:


It seems fair to say that a computer science, applied computer science, and information technology degree with an emphasis in real programming skills is the best bet to pay off student loans. However, some will wait for politicians to do that for them, but really that’s quite unlikely, isn’t it?

Reality is always blunt. Reality also seems to frequently differs from what politicians say. After all, politicians pander to audiences, which generally means they say a great deal of nonsense. Nonsense like economics doesn’t matter, everyone should earn the same regardless of their education, skills, or work ethic. Aldous Huxley said it more elegantly when he said, “That all men are equal is a proposition to which, at ordinary times, no sane human being has ever given his assent.”

Written by maclochlainn

December 21st, 2015 at 6:24 pm