Degrees pay off for IT workers

TAMLYN STEWART
Last updated 09:13 03/07/2013

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A degree in information technology pays off nicely a few years along the career track, new numbers show.

Recruitment firm Absolute IT's 2013 Remuneration Report shows that in the first two or three years in the workforce, there is little difference in pay between an IT professional with a degree and one without.

The payoff really comes after about 10 years' experience in the industry - by then, a professional could be earning as much as 26 per cent more than colleagues who don't have a degree.

An IT professional with 15 years' experience earns a median base salary of $95,000, while those with a degree earn on average $25,000 more per year.

And over the period of a career, that 26 per cent difference would reimburse the cost of obtaining a degree.

Absolute IT director and South Island general manager Kristy Ward said there was a lack of candidates for IT roles generally, not just those with a tertiary qualification, but she would encourage anyone interested in the sector who was leaving school now to consider getting a degree.

"Without a doubt it's going to expand their options for what they can look at, whereas without a degree it could be limiting with regard to the opportunities they can go into," she said.

"Experience does count for a lot, but we are certainly dealing with organisations now, particularly in the software development space, where they are interested in people with a degree and I think that's due to the fact they're trained on certain methodologies . . . and I think it shows a commitment to the industry as well."

IT professionals with a degree are also significantly more likely to move into executive roles, with 44 per cent of those with more than 10 years' experience managing more than five staff, compared with only 30 per cent of those without a degree.

Absolute IT director Grant Burley said the demand for tech graduates continued to grow as the industry itself grew, driven by new technologies, the success of leading tech businesses and start-ups popping up each month.

"We have a generation of digital thinkers exiting high school, a tech industry short on talent, and a great opportunity to connect the two."

New Zealand IT employers say skills on the future hot list include cloud, mobile app development, integration, business intelligence, security and businesses analysis, according to the Absolute IT Employer Insight Report 2013.

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- The Press

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