Spiceworks Survey Speaks to 'Wage Unrest' Among IT Pros

Ed T 122917 coins

Here's some interesting and possibly positive news from a recent survey from the crew over at Spiceworks. In a Dec. 12 survey titled Spiceworks 2018 Career Outlook (abbreviated as S18CO in later citations), the company reports on the looming status of, and prognosis for, IT pros in the upcoming year and beyond.


The company surveyed around 2,100 respondents to produce the report, which speaks to a variety of topics, including:


? Survey respondents' job satisfaction levels
? Survey respondents' career plans for the coming year
? Analysis of survey respondents' expertise across a wide range of IT skill sets
? Examination of opinions on these topics as the vary by generation – specifically, Millenials/Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers (yours truly belongs to the most geriatric of those three cohorts)


For the record, here's how those three generations shake out in terms of range of birth years:


1. Baby Boomers are usually defined as those born between 1946 and 1954 (born in 1952, your humble author is near the tail end of this range).
2. Boomers II (born between 1955 and 1965)
3. Generation X (born between 1966 and 1976)
4. Generation Y (born between 1977 and 1994)
5. Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2012)


My source for these ranges is an excellent piece from SocialMarketing.org entitled "Generations X, Y, Z and the Others" (undated, but reads like it came out in 2012).


Spiceworks Bar Graph


Everyone agrees that IT compensation is too low. Source: Spiceworks 2018 Career Outlook (PDF file)


As the above graphic indicates, a majority of survey respondents from all three generations feels underpaid. The degree of satisfaction is inversely proportional to age, which (to me, at least) shows some of the mitigating effects of longevity and more experience on working IT pros.


According to the Spiceworks survey, 70 percent of IT pros across the board report modest or better job satisfaction, and only a somewhat smaller portion of the same population also believes they could (or should) be better paid. Across the whole population, 63 percent said they felt underpaid, in fact.


Ed T 122917 couple fretting about money

Because those with tenure tend to make more, this fits the observed numbers for Gen Y and the boomers pretty well, though I'm surprised to see Gen X fall just underneath the boomers on that same metric (common sense tells me this falls within sampling error and is probably not a meaningful deviation).


Median pay increases significantly for each cohort (median values are $50,000 for Gen Y, $65,000 for Gen X, and $70,000 for Boomers) and that helps explain the differences given current debt loads and cost of living for the three cohorts. Another insight that emerged from Spiceworks data is that "the older an IT professional is, the more likely they are to stay with the same organization for a longer period of time" (S18C0, pg. 2).


That gives some context to the finding that IT pros across all generations have spent around 40 percent of their IT careers with their current employer.


Dissatisfaction with pay could lead to unrest, but only in a job market where other opportunities are available. That's why I choose to see the next major stat from the Spiceworks report as an overall positive – namely, that 32 percent of all IT professionals are planning to search for or accept a new job in 2018.


An additional 7 percent of IT pros plan to start work as a consultant or for an IT server provider in 2018 as well, and 5 percent plan to leave the field completely. That leaves 56 percent staying put for 2018. As demographics, typical career phase, and the flexibility of youth might predict, 36 percent of Gen Y plan to search for or take on a new position in 2018, compared to 32 percent for Gen X, and 23 percent for boomers.


Nine percent of boomers plan to retire in 2018, which will undoubtedly create more senior (and higher-paying) holes in the workforce that Gen X and Gen Y may appreciate. From the other side of the change divide, here are how things shake out: 37 percent of boomers expect neither a raise nor a career change next year, versus 29 percent for Gen X and 14 percent for Gen Y.


Money also proves an effective spur toward job change, and works more strongly for younger workers than older ones. According to the S18CO report, "(M)illennials are much more motivated to find a better salary than GenX and boomers."


In the same vein, this same cohort is also more movitated to advance its skills, work for a more talented team, find an employer with a bigger IT budget, seek better employee perks, and aspire to a better job title. All of these desiderata, says Spiceworks, can provide inducement to help firms attract and retain younger workers.


IT pros are also pretty upbeat about job prospects for 2018, too. Some 36 percent of IT pros across the board expect the job market to improve in 2018, versus just 13 percent who expect it to worsen (leaving 51 percent, a bare majority, who think it will stay the same). The S18CO report also cites to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for half a million new IT jobs by 2027.


If anything, I think that number is on the low side, especially considering that many sources project half a million unoccupied positions in information security alone by 2020 in the Unites States, and as many as 1.5 million such jobs worldwide.


Dissatisfaction is not usually a good thing, but coupled with a positive outlook on future prospects and confidence in being able to change jobs, I'd have to say this really does augur well for the coming year. Stick with me here at GoCertify, and I'll tell you how it actually turns out, in my usual monthly ruminations on the job market (and IT related work across all market sectors).


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About the Author

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran who's worked as a software developer, technical marketer, consultant, author, and researcher. Author of many books and articles, Ed also writes on certification topics for Tech Target, ComputerWorld and Win10.Guru. Check out his website at www.edtittel.com, where he also blogs daily on Windows 10 and 11 topics.