Is It Time to Ask for a Raise?

Susan Nunziata, Director of Editorial | 5/20/2014 | 95 comments

Susan Nunziata

Is it time to ask for a raise? If you're a female IT executive, or more than 55 years old, your answer might well be a resounding "Yes!" Let's take a look at highlights of the InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey, released May 19, to see how your compensation stacks up.

This far-reaching survey polled more than 11,000 respondents in all walks of IT life -- from admins and developers to C-level executives. The survey results are broken up into a series of reports on There's a wealth of valuable information here for those looking to hire as well as for those who are looking to advance their own careers.

For today, though, I'm looking only at one slice of the results: IT executives.

In this category, the survey received responses from 328 CIOs, 239 CTOs, and 447 VPs of IT. What interests me most is what the survey reveals about median compensation for IT executives "of a certain age" and for females in these leadership roles. Let's start with the basics: How much do IT leaders earn? The table below shows median compensation levels for each job title over the past three years.

Table 1: Median Total Cash Compensation*
 Title   2014   2013   2012 
CIO $163,000 $167,000 $161,000
CTO $131,000 $148,000 $129,000
VP of IT $163,000 $170,000 $156,000
*Includes any bonuses and direct cash payments in the last 12 months). Source: InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey: Executives, May 2014.

Pinpointing a single median salary is challenging, according to the report, because of the sheer number of industries and company sizes covered:

    The median total cash compensation $163,000 for CIOs and VPs of IT and $131,000 for CTOs hides a big spread industry to industry, and within sectors. Among consulting and business services, one of the largest groups in our survey, base salaries range from $25,000 to $400,000. We saw similar disparity among IT vendors, financial services firms, and government and education.

With that caveat in mind, the report does reveal some good news for IT executives aged 46 to 55; survey respondents in this age group were the best compensated among their peers.

This lines up with the median number of years respondents have served in IT: 22 for CIOs, 21 for CTOs, and 20 for VPs of IT. The survey results also belie the myth that CIO jobs are short-term positions; the median amount of time respondents have been with their current companies is seven years. In addition, the vast majority of CIO respondents (73 percent) have worked at only one or two companies in the past 10 years.

Table 2: Annual Median Base Salary by Age
 Title   26-35*   36-45   46-55   Over 55 
CIO $118,000 $121,000 $175,000 $157,000
CTO $90,000 $120,000 $134,000 $135,000
VP of IT $112,000 $140,000 $153,000 $138,000
*Low base of respondents; use with caution. Source: InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey: Executives, May 2014.

When it comes to gender, median total compensation for male respondents is $25,000 higher than for females. According to the report, median total compensation for the 997 male IT executives responding to this survey was $160,000, compared with $135,000 for the 101 female respondents. Among VPs of IT, male respondents earn $139,000 compared with the $125,000 earned by their female counterparts.

Table 3: Annual Median Base Salary by Gender
 Title   Male   Female 
CIO $143,000 $130,000
CTO $145,000 $133,000
VP of IT $139,000 $125,000
Source: InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey: Executives, May 2014.

We'll be covering additional highlights from the InformationWeek 2014 US IT Salary Survey in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, tell us what you think. Are these results going to send you rushing into the executive offices demanding a pay raise? Or do these median salaries help you feel better about how you're compensated in your own career? Tell us about it in the comments field below.

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