Employment InSights

Seven Tech Positions to Capture the Biggest Salary Gains in 2017

By Dawn Kawamoto

With the economy continuing to rebound and worldwide wage growth expected to rise 3% in 2017, the IT industry is expected to do even better as demand for IT projects and initiatives in data, security and mobile remain hot.

The average starting salary for tech jobs is expected to jump 3.8% in 2017 over the previous year, according to a recent Robert Half Technology report. But some occupations within tech are expected to post salary gains that soar upwards of 7.2%.

“There have been years of strong and consistent salary growth where the tech sector far outpaced other industries,” John Reed, senior executive director for Robert Half Technology, told IEEE-USA InSight. “But it’s likely over the next few years as projects and business priorities shift and evolve, so will the top growth roles.”

Here’s a look at the top seven IT positions that are expected to reap the largest pop in salaries:

Front-End Web Developers

[Source: Robert Half Technology]


“Front-end developers will likely remain in demand as client experience continues to be extremely important for businesses,” Reed explained.

A web developer is responsible for what a user experiences when they open a browser or app. Some tasks could include using design and code to develop functional and appealing web- and mobile-based applications, providing website maintenance and enhancements, and creating mockups and prototypes, he added.

Front-end developers who are starting out their careers with one to three years of experience tend to be millennials who are recent college grads. The high salary bump may serve as a way to retain these young professionals, who often are characterized as frequent job hoppers.

Millennials who are front-end web developers are expected to capture a slightly higher salary pop in 2017 than more seasoned IT professionals in the same occupation, given this group is expected to post a 6.2% increase to an $83,250 to $119,500 salary range, according to the report.

But while millennials may have the advantage for this particular occupation, overall, the salary gap between entry-level IT workers and senior tech professionals is widening, according to the 2016 edition of the IEEE-USA Salary and Benefits Survey.

The IEEE-USA report found that IT professionals working at a Level 9, or greater than a GS-15 level, tend to earn nearly three times more than an entry-level tech worker when it comes to median primary income.


“The gap was about 2.63x in 2014 and around 2.9x in 2015 and 2016,” said Shawn Six, principal with Industry Insights, which produced the salary and benefits survey for IEEE-USA.

Mobile Designers

[Source: Robert Half Technology]

Mobile designers create engaging interactive experiences for mobile devices, drawing on their understanding of design concepts, user experience and client needs. These IT workers are typically part of a creative team, but collaborate closely with IT colleagues since they have to understand both the graphical and functional aspects of web and mobile design.

“Mobile designers can expect to see a significant salary increase due to the rise in the popularity of smartphones,” Reed said. “Businesses are recognizing the need to create mobile-compatible web pages and applications, and are hiring mobile designers to help. Because demand is outpacing supply and companies have to work harder to attract and retain top talent, the projected salary growth for 2017 is higher than last year’s 4.6%.”

Data Scientists

[Source: Robert Half Technology]

Data scientists play a critical role in the effective collection of data, as well as having the talent to make recommendations based on its findings. This is an extremely important talent for businesses that want to succeed and give customers the best experience possible.

The salary drivers for a data scientist are very similar to that of big data engineers.

“Any data professional, whether they build data warehousing solutions or collect and analyze data, should expect to do well in terms of career opportunities and salary potential,” said Reed. “These roles remain important for businesses who are just delving into or expanding their data initiatives.”

User Experience (UX) Designers

[Source: Robert Half Technology]

UX designers with a few years of experience are in especially high demand, because they have acquired research, technical, creative, and problem-solving skills within this time.

UX designer salary growth is being fueled by an increasing number of companies that need to find talented IT workers to assist with the surge in mobile and web development projects, Reed said.

Big Data Engineers

[Source: Robert Half Technology]

Big data engineers are key in gathering and transforming large amounts of raw data into actionable intelligence for business decision-making, strategy setting and innovation. This role differs from data scientists, who need to understand how to evaluate the data, as well as how that data will bring value to the organization.

Although the projected salary increase for big data engineers is higher than the IT average overall for 2017, the growth rate is smaller than the 8.9% projected for 2016.

Network Security Engineers

[Source: Robert Half Technology]

IT security professionals can expect significant salary increases, since security is a key business priority for many technology leaders, Reed said.

According to Robert Half Technology’s 2017 Salary Guide, 100% of all of the occupations listed in the IT security sector and Web developer field had salary growth that was above the national IT average of 3.8%.

IT security firm BeyondTrust agrees with Robert Half Technology’s salary findings.

Rob Babbush, BeyondTrust’s vice president of human resources, told IEEE-USA InSight that, given some caveats based on geography, his firm agrees with the anticipated 2017 starting salary increase expected for network security engineers, particularly in large metropolitan areas.

“IT security providers, such as BeyondTrust, must not only compete with other IT security vendors but also with the increasing volume of companies who are hiring their own internal network security engineering capability to help protect their environment as the attack landscape continues to develop,” Babbush said. “As this field continues to grow, I expect that the market conditions for employers will improve. However, at this point, the number of network security engineers with the requisite skill set and the needed years of experience are still out of balance with the demand.”

Software Engineers

[Source: Robert Half Technology]

Software engineer roles have seen relatively consistent salary growth, Reed observed. “These professionals have been sought after by technology leaders fairly steadily, due to increasing business demands for software solutions in order to meet business goals,” he said.

Although software engineers are anticipated to post a higher growth rate in starting salaries than the national tech average for 2017, it is less than last year when the projected growth rate was 6.6% for starting salaries.

Tech Sectors Targeted With the Greatest Salary Growth Potential

Taking a 10,000-foot view on the IT salary scene, the Robert Half Technology 2017 Salary Guide found that 100% of the five security related occupations, as well as the six Web development positions, had projected 2017 salary increases above the national 3.8% increase.


  • Data Security Analyst: $118,250 – $169,000, a 5% increase
  • Systems Security Administrator: $110,500 – $157,500, a 5.1% increase
  • Network Security Administrator: $107,750 – $155,250, a 5.1% increase
  • Network Security Engineer: $115,500 – $162,500, a 5.7% increase
  • Information Systems Security Manager: $136,000 – $191,750, a 5.1% increase

Web Development

  • Web Administrator: $70,750 – $111,500, a 4.1% increase
  • E-Commerce Analyst: $92,000 – $135,000, a 4.4% increase
  • Senior Web Developer: $116,250 – $161,500, a 4.7% increase
  • Web Developer: $82,750 – $135,500, a 4.9% increase
  • Web Designer: $70,500 – $118,000, a 5.2% increase
  • Front-End Web Developer: $83,250 – $119,500, a 6.2% increase

Although IT security and Web development salaries are projected to soar in 2017, demand for IT occupations can shift over time, as Reed noted.

That said, however, full-time communications technology workers whose work is their primary area of technical competence (PATC) have continued to enjoy the highest median earnings for at least the past four years, Industry Insight’s Six told IEEE-USA InSight.

According to the 2016 IEEE-USA report, the median earnings for a communications technology worker reached $152,500. That was higher than the median salary of $135,000 for all PATCs.

In summing up his expectations for 2017, Reed said: “It’s likely over the next few years we’ll likely continue to see strong hiring and salary increases for tech professionals.”

Thinking of Relocating?

When it comes to increasing the size of their tech teams, CIOs in these 10 cities will be the most active nationwide in 2018, according to a recent Robert Half Technology report. How does your current cost of living compare to any of these cities? Try Bankrate.com’s free cost of living calculator to see the equivalent income needed to maintain your current standard of living.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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