Avoiding the Mistake of Overpricing, Underpricing Yourself in IT Job Search

Don Tennant

If you’re just starting your career as an IT professional and you’re looking for an entry-level job, you should know a few things. First, you’re entering a market with a lot going for you, in terms of the demand for good IT talent. Second, overpricing yourself will likely backfire on you and prolong your job search indefinitely, regardless of how high the demand is for your skills. And third, underpricing yourself can handicap your salary trajectory for years.

The trick, then, is to go into your search as well-informed as you can possibly be with respect to what IT pros in your area are making. I recently came across what might be a valuable resource to help you out: The 2017 Salary Guide released by Randstad Technologies, a global IT staffing services provider with its U.S. headquarters in Woburn, Mass. Randstad produces these guides for a range of professions, and I found its IT salary guide to be remarkably comprehensive. It provides a state-by-state breakdown of the average salaries in 19 job categories, and 59 job functions. For example, the Network Engineering category includes eight job functions: cybersecurity engineer, certified ethical hacker, firewall engineer, identity and access management, network engineer, network security, SiteMinder, and vendor risk auditor. That’s pretty far down into the weeds.

In addition to entry-level salaries in all of those categories, moreover, the guide provides the average salaries for mid-level (four to seven years of experience) IT professionals, as well as senior-level (eight years or more) IT pros. You have to register in order to download it, but it’s quick and painless (it took me about a minute), and the price is right — it’s free.

To give you a sense of what some entry-level salaries are looking like, Randstad has compiled a sampling of those salaries in the United States’ five largest cities, for three job functions: cybersecurity engineer, Java software developer and Big Data software development architect. Take a look:


Cybersecurity Engineer

  • New York:     $106, 648
  • Los Angeles: $102,188
  • Chicago:       $97,305
  • Houston:       $98,928
  • Philadelphia: $98,436

Java Software Developer

  • New York:     $99,395
  • Los Angeles: $66,950
  • Chicago:       $74,160
  • Houston:       $72,100
  • Philadelphia: $87,550

Big Data Software Development Architect

  • New York:     $101,852
  • Los Angeles: $97,626
  • Chicago:       $100,000
  • Houston:       $94,374
  • Philadelphia: $94,122

A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.


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