A Unique Approach to Correcting Profound Deficiencies
in Job Title Standardization and Tech Salary Surveys
Why tech salary surveys have big problems...and how we fixed them.
Rapidly evolving information technology jobs are often so unique in the universe of business employment that using passive or self-reporting surveying methods to obtain compensation benchmark data can yield extremely inaccurate results. That's because of the common (and dreaded) problem of lack of standardization in tech job titles and what tech professionals actually do on-the-job.
These days it is not uncommon to find specialists in React, Angular, Python, Ruby, SAP/ABAP and dozens of popular programming language skills all lumped together in somewhat generic "Programmer", "Developer", or "Software Engineer" job codes for the purpose of determining their compensation. Or Linux, Unix, NT, Chrome, and mobile OS platform engineers and administrators lumped together under a broad "Administrator" of "Engineer" job title. The problem is that some skills are worth more in the marketplace than others, so doing simple job title matches to industry salary surveys can easily result in underpaying or overpaying tech professionals.
The job title mismatch dilemma is an epidemic widely- acknowledged by HR compensation professionals and tech salary surveyors alike. It affects more than half of all employed tech workers by even the most conservative estimates from HR departments. Making the situation worse is that compensation surveys from the largest HR consulting firms, including WillisTowersWatson, Mercer, Hay, AON/Hewitt/Radford, and others, do not offer a solution via their off-the-shelf products. Employers must contract with them for expensive custom survey consulting.
Our solution back in 1994 was to create an entirely new methodology and use it to produce the first salary surveys in North America to accurately benchmark "new breed" IT positions in Web/I-net, e-Commerce, Data Warehousing/Business Intelligence, Unix/NT/Linux, Business Technology/Business Systems Analysts, Information Security, SAP and other enterprise software applications.
The best part about our unique methodology is that it corrects for job title/job content mismatches by classifying surveyed participants according to what they do on-the-job and matching them to a standardized set of detailed job description. Only then do we input their compensation data in our survey engine. Then all you need to do to get the most accurate market benchmark available today is match your people to our job descriptions.
It is a labor-intensive and expensive way to achieve truly accurate and validated compensation benchmarking. It requires a deep grounding in technology and the nuances of IT professional employment. In addition to that grounding, Foote Partners uses its unprecedented access to 335,785 IT professionals in 3,700 public and private sector employers to overcome many obstacles to accurate tracking of IT compensation and workforce issues. Overall, our methodology produces better data screening and cleansing, superior statistical reliability and validity, and constantly refreshed and consistent real world salary and tech skills pay data. No other tech compensation survey research firm today incorporates extreme validation and accuracy methods similar to ours.
IT infrastructure positions originally formed the strong foundation for our research, however Foote Partners' competitive distinction has long been its focus on critical new strategic and tactical tech-business hybrid positions often unreported (or under-reported) in other tech surveys. Findings are updated continuously and published every three months aided by our constant flow of confidential IT compensation data from North American public and private sector employer HR departments and IT, HR, and business executives research partners.
Our high-touch relationships with our thousands of research partners have been forged over many years: developed from among the clients, colleagues, and associates of our senior research team of former McKinsey & Company, WillisTowersWatson, Gartner and META Group consultants and analysts. We have access not only to their IT compensation databases but to management and rank-and-file workers, which facilitates the matching of job content with comparable job titles that enables the extraordinary accuracy and reliability of our surveys.
We survey salaries and skills pay job-by-job, city-by-city: 235 positions, 87 cities in the United States and Canada and 174 cities in Europe. There are no geographic multipliers used in our research, no cost-of-living coefficients. Ours is constantly refreshed real world salary and skills pay data.
What we do that others don't
Many aspects of Foote Partners compensation data collection methodology set us apart from other IT salary survey firms.
- We are the only firm in North America that corrects for IT job title/job content mismatches for surveyed workers before the survey data enters the data compilation phase. All that is needed is for our customers to match their workers to our detailed, long form job descriptions, which are regularly updated to keep up with changing job content.
- We survey and report the market values of more than 1,110 IT skills and certifications. As with all Foote Partners compensation surveys, we recompile and update continuously and publish our surveys every three months. So if you are not willing to re-title jobs to match actual content but you need to differentiate workers within a broad job title (such as "software engineer", "developer" or "systems administrator"), you can use our skills pay survey data to add at-risk pay or adjust base pay for the various IT skills and certifications. You can benchmark workers pay to what their job titles should be.
- We use no self reporting, no aggregated data sources or compilation of others' surveys. Instead we collect our data from 3,700 research partner organizations job-by-job, city-by-city, continuously throughout the year.
- Foote Partners benchmark surveys are created and maintained by an experienced team of former Gartner and META Group industry analysts, McKinsey & Company and WillisTowersWatson consultants, and former corporate HR, IT, and business executives, who have unprecedented access to more than 335,785 IT professionals. We work closely with thousands of public and private sector research partner organizations to correct salary survey problems, beginning with job title/job content discontinuities. Overall, our innovative methods produce better data screening and cleansing, superior statistical reliability and validity, and constantly refreshed and consistent real world salary and tech skills pay data.
- As former senior analysts and consultants at top IT analyst and business consulting firms we have an insider's knowledge of evolving technology, human resource, and business trends and drivers. We keep a close watch on the evolution of IT jobs every environment: central infrastructure; lines of business; and corporate departments and functions. We have been tracking compensation and reporting on trends for so-called 'hybrid' IT/business jobs since 1994.
- We track critical labor market fluctuations and have an insider's knowledge of evolving technology. We keep a close watch on the movement of IT jobs in lines of business that bring IT workers in continual contact with customers---the so-call 'hybrid' IT jobs that now define the new breed of IT worker.
- Our research database can be used to generate custom surveys and reports on a variety of IT and business management trends and better/best practices, serving as the foundation for our consulting practices.
IT salary and cash bonus pay
Survey results from our quarterly IT survey of more than 247 critical IT jobs are available in any combination for up to 85 US and Canadian cities. Our more than 4,600 salary and skills pay survey customers decide exactly what they need and how much to spend.
While infrastructure positions form a strong foundation for our research, Foote Partners competitive distinction has long been its focus on those critical new strategic and tactical positions often unreported (or under-reported) in IT surveys published by large firms such as Mercer, WillisTowersWatson, Hewitt/Radford/AON, and others. Findings are updated and published every three months
Long-form JDs accompany all orders so there is no confusion. For info on obtaining detailed long-form job descriptions see:
IT certifications and skills pay
Foote Partners' quarterly 2021 IT Skills & Certifications Pay Index and 2021 IT Salary+Skills Pay Survey Reports are the popular choices for hundreds of employers seeking to differentiate pay for workers possessing various technical certifications or skills. The market values of 1,127 IT skills and certifications are compiled and published every three months, with data from North American and European employers.
- 2021 IT Skills and Certifications Pay Index
- 2021 IT Salary+Skills Pay Survey Report (US)
- 2021 IT Salary+Skills Pay Survey Report (Canada)
Research participant metrics
IT compensation data for our 2020 research findings were collected from 3,700 public and private sector organizations representing more than 40 private sector industries plus government and educational institutions. Data about 335,785 IT professionals are included in our continuously updated surveys.
The size of the participating organizations, measured most appropriately for the type of business, by revenues, assets, total premiums and operating budgets, are as follows:
- 18% of participating organizations have $5 billion+ in sales/$15+ billion in total assets
- 28% of participating organizations earn more than $1 billion in annual revenues or more than $5 billion in total assets
- 46% of participating organizations have $500+ million in sales/$1+ billion in total assets/$500+ million in premiums/$500+ million operating budget (government, educational, not-for-profit)
- 54% of participating organizations fall in the SMB (small-to-medium sized business) segment, generally defined as organization under $500 million in sales.
- [Public sector] 5% have operating budgets of $500 million or more, [nonprofit/educational sectors] 4% with operating budgets $100 million to less than $500million
How do we get such accurate data in so many cities?
Since 1995 we have identified the key employers and market players in 85 U.S. and Canadian cities and labor markets, and enlisted them as Foote Partners research partners. From our research partners we collect salary and skills pay information continuously. Every three months we update complete sets of salary and skills data for all FP positions in that location. Our bottom line: We will not release data in any city until we have accurate representative data that have been verified and validated, covering all IT positions and all skills and certifications in our general survey.
Survey frequency and availability
We are the only source in North America for continuous quarterly IT salary survey research. This has made Foote Partners the popular choice for companies who know that while some IT positions need annual surveying, others require more frequent comparisons to keep up with volatile labor market segments.
|Survey during these months...||Produces research published...|
1st Quarter (January, February, March)
2nd Quarter (April, May, June)
3rd Quarter (July, August, September)
4th Quarter (October, November, December)
January 8th (following year)