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Come payday, it's good to be you

Although a softened job market has many network professionals willing to trade money for job security, salaries continue to rise and bonuses are back.

By , Network World
July 21, 2003 12:01 AM ET

Network World - With 2003 salaries for network executives averaging $113,140 nationwide - and increases for all network titles outpacing the rate of inflation - the network profession remains an excellent career choice. That is just one of the findings from the 2003 Network World Salary Survey, in which we questioned 1,542 IT professionals with the help of research firm King Brown & Partners.

Network executives' salaries rose 3.5% in 2003, from 2002's $109,280. Network professionals with management-level titles (such as LAN manager, WAN manager, director of) and those with staff titles (network designer, operations) experienced 4% increases in salaries over 2002. This wallops the 2002 inflation rate of 1.59% and the 2.7% rate recorded for January through May 2003 by InflationData.com. (See "Your salary" chart.)

Specifically, LAN/WAN manager-level workers will earn base salaries of $71,670 this year, while those with staff-related titles pull in $63,230. Salary increases for network professionals also compare well to the 3.8% average rise in compensation experienced from the first quarter of 2002 to the same quarter in 2003 for all jobs across the private sector, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Perhaps the biggest grin-inspiring surprise of the survey is bonuses. Network executives - those with IT titles such as senior vice president and vice president - expect a healthy $15,070 in bonus money for 2003, a 27.4% increase over 2002. This will even trump the bonuses earned by CIOs, who expect $12,190 for 2003, a 1.6% rise. Across all job titles, network professionals' anticipated 2003 bonuses will increase 3.3%, with those holding e-commerce-related titles looking out for an inspiring 30.9% increase to $3,090 in 2003.

When combining base salary, bonuses, stock options and other payments, total compensation for network executives in 2003 will reach $133,480, a 3.4% increase over 2002's $129,100. Across the board, the mean total compensation for network professionals increased 3.7% to $73,910 for 2003, compared with $71,300 in 2002.

When it comes to payday, it's good to be you.

Click here for a comparative chart (will popup in new window).

Job security No. 1

Yet underneath raises and hefty bonuses runs a current of fear. While IT jobs aren't particularly targeted for elimination from companies in embattled industries, they aren't immune either. Alternatively, struggling companies sometimes freeze salaries and eliminate bonuses in hopes of avoiding layoffs - not always with success. The result is, for all but the highest-paid network professionals, job security has become the No. 1 factor of job satisfaction - up from a rank of No. 3 in 2002 and from its nearly non-issue status two years ago.

Survey respondents say they are less worried about long-term unemployment than they are about being forced via a layoff into a less suitable, lower-income job. This is a marked difference from the job-hopping-for-salary-increases attitude that characterized IT professionals a couple of years ago.

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