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Why tech workers can't get no satisfaction

For the second straight year, technology professionals are feeling the effects of nearly flat wages. According to the 2011-2010 Annual Salary Survey from Dice, the average tech worker’s salary increased by less than 1% in 2010.

The survey reveals a core set of skills employers look for: Oracle experience, J2EE/Java proficiency, project management, C language and SQL skills. But it’s not necessarily the core stuff that will help IT pros earn more competitive wages, said Tom Silver, a senior vice president with Dice.

There’s an increasing demand for virtualization and mobile experience. In fact, virtualization salaries are above average — about $81,600, compared with $79,384 for positions overall. Despite this, virtualization salaries have been trending down in the past few years, likely because more workers have gained virtualization expertise, making it easier for employers to hire those with expertise.

The survey does show a glimmer of hope overall: About half of respondents got a raise in 2010, similar to the findings of TechTarget’s salary and careers survey. But for the most part, those salary increases are miniscule, and they have been for the past two years. Tech skills are always in high demand, so why aren’t they being properly recognized?

The easy answer? The economy. But economic conditions are improving, so that leaves us with another variable: technology skill sets. To stay in the game, IT pros have to keep up with changing technologies and entirely new concepts (cloud computing comes to mind). But more companies are viewing technology as a strategic business component, which means they’ll soon have to start shelling out the cash, said Silver.

“Increasingly, skills and experience matter,” Silver said. “Employers realize that they have to pay up for that.”

With low pay increases, it’s no surprise only 50% of respondents were “somewhat” or “very satisfied” with their salary.  Plus, four out of 10 thought they could make more money if they changed employers in 2011. Silver said that could be true for workers who can fill companies’ skill set gaps, or it could simply be a “grass is greener on the other side” sentiment.

So why do tech workers feel they can’t get no satisfaction?

“Tech pros are tired — they’re just tired,” Silver said. “Tech guys are essentially being asked to do more with less.”

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