Nov 4, 2003

MENLO PARK, CA -- Base compensation for information technology (IT) professionals will continue to stabilize in 2004, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology 2004 Salary Guide. Starting salaries overall are projected to decrease an average of 1.6 percent in 2004, with wage increases expected in high-demand specialties such as information security and systems audit.

Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of information technology professionals on a project and full-time basis. The annual salary survey is based on an in-depth analysis of thousands of job orders managed by the company's U.S. offices.

"While average starting salaries for most positions will remain little changed in 2004, those occupations that experienced extensive growth in the late nineties continue to see a slight decline in compensation," said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Increases in base pay will be reserved for the most sought-after specialties where skill shortages still exist."

Lee noted that chief information officers remain cautious in their hiring efforts and are taking a very thorough approach to evaluating candidates. "IT managers are carefully reviewing their hiring profiles to ensure new staff members can make immediate contributions. Firms also want applicants who have a history of successes with previous employers," she added.

Specialties in Demand

According to Robert Half Technology research, data security analysts will see the greatest starting salary increases of any single job classification in 2004, with base compensation expected to rise 2.1 percent, to the range of $67,000 to $90,750 annually. "Network security concerns continue to be a priority for businesses of all sizes," Lee said. "There is strong demand for IT professionals who can manage everything from assessing potential network vulnerabilities to integrating virus protection, intrusion detection and other components into an enterprisewide security strategy."

Average starting compensation for applications architects is projected to increase 1.9 percent in 2004, to between $73,250 and $104,250. Starting salaries for senior Internet/intranet developers are also expected to increase 1.9 percent in 2004, to the range of $67,250 to $96,000.

Other key findings in the Robert Half Technology 2004 Salary Guide:

  • Systems auditors will earn average starting salaries of between $60,750 and $77,250 annually, a gain of 1.8 percent over 2003 compensation.
  • Quality assurance/testing managers will see starting salaries increase 1.2 percent to the range of $63,250 to $85,000 per year.
  • Disaster recovery specialists can expect base compensation in the range of $59,000 to $89,000, which is an increase of 1.2 percent over 2003 salaries.
  • Average starting salaries for LAN administrators will decrease 4.5 percent, bringing base compensation to the range of $43,750 to $62,500 annually.
  • Base compensation for desktop support analysts will drop 5.3 percent, with starting salaries in the range of $47,000 to $65,000. 

Industries forecasting particularly strong demand for IT professionals in 2004 include business services, healthcare and financial services. However, hiring activity within these sectors varies significantly by geographic region. (All salaries listed are national averages. A regional analysis of hiring trends and compensation variances is included in the Salary Guide.)

Information in the Salary Guide is based on the thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements conducted each year by Robert Half Technology recruiting specialists. Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because too many factors -- such as seniority, work ethic, performance and training -- can impact a full-time employee's compensation as his or her work history develops.

Businesses across the North America refer to the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide when establishing compensation levels. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the guide in preparing its comprehensive Occupational Outlook Handbook.

With more than 100 locations in North America and Europe, Robert Half Technology is a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from web development and multiplatform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology offers online job search services at

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