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1999 salaries to rise for IT professionals

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Information technology professionals can expect a 7.3 percent increase in average starting salaries in 1999, according to the just-released 1999 RHI Consulting Salary Guide.

This is more than double the 3.5 percent gain forecast for 1998, according to a news release from RHI, an affiliate of Robert Half International.

Programmers, database administrators and Web developers are expected to see the sharpest rise in base compensation, the release stated.

RHI Consulting is a specialized staffing service that provides information technology professionals on a project basis. The annual salary survey is based on an in-depth analysis of thousands of job orders managed by the company's U.S. offices.

"In an effort to remain competitive in today's marketplace, companies are increasing their investment in new systems. This continued emphasis on technology will result in ongoing demand for IT professionals at all levels and across most industries in 1999," said Greg Scileppi, executive director of RHI Consulting. "Starting salary increases reflect this trend, particularly within today's hottest specialties, such as Internet and Web applications development."

In fact, for the third consecutive year, Internet professionals will experience the sharpest overall increase in base compensation.

Internet-related positions lead all job categories, with starting salaries projected to rise an average of 9.6 percent; among them, Web developers will see the biggest jump at 14.8 percent.

"Internet-based technologies have become integral to business operations as companies use intranets and extranets to disseminate information, communicate with clients and vendors and conduct e-commerce," Scileppi stated.

Programmers can expect to see the greatest rise in base compensation of any single job classification. Those with experience developing applications in C, C++ and Visual Basic can look forward to an 18.4 percent increase in average starting salaries in the coming year, according to the guide.

Other key findings in the 1999 RHI Consulting Salary Guide:

?Database administrators will receive average starting salaries of between $61,250 and $88,000, up 16.3 percent over 1998.

?Webmasters can expect a 14.7 percent increase in average starting salaries in 1999, bringing them to the range of $51,500 to $73,000 annually.

?Software package implementation specialists those experienced in installation and customization of off-the-shelf business application software will see a 13.5 percent increase in average starting salaries. Base compensation will range from $56,250 to $80,000 annually.

?Electronic commerce specialists will see average starting salaries ranging from $45,000 to $73,000 per year, which is a 12.4 percent increase over 1998.

?Base compensation for project managers will rise 10 percent, bringing starting salaries to the range of $60,000 to $80,750 annually.

?Software developers with installation and development expertise will experience a 9.5 percent increase in average starting salaries. Base compensation will range from $50,000 to $65,000 per year.

?Network administrators will be paid average starting salaries between $42,750 and $59,750, a 7.9 percent increase over last year.

?Average starting salaries for chief information officers will increase 4.4 percent over 1998, bringing them to the range of $113,500 to $180,000 annually.

?Help desk managers can expect a 3.4 percent increase in average starting salaries. Base compensation will range from $67,500 to $85,500 per year.

Industries expected to show particularly strong information technology hiring activity in 1999 include finance, insurance and real estate, and business and professional services. However, hiring within these sectors varies significantly by geographic region.

Scileppi pointed out that, "Even in today's high-employment market, with increasing salaries and expanding IT departments, high-tech professionals must continually update their technical and interpersonal skills.

In addition to seeking professionals familiar with emerging technologies, companies are looking for individuals who can communicate effectively with nontechnical colleagues outside their department."

Information in the Salary Guide is derived from thousands of job searches, negotiations and placements conducted each year by RHI Consulting recruiting specialists.

Continuing or ongoing salaries are not reported because too many factors such as seniority, work ethic, performance and training can impact a full-time employee's compensation as a work history develops.

In addition to providing compensation data, the Salary Guide includes a regional analysis of hiring trends and cost-of-living variances that affect starting salaries.

Businesses across the United States refer to the RHI Consulting Salary Guide when establishing compensation levels, and the U.S. Department of Labor consults the findings when preparing its Occupational Outlook Handbook, one of the largest-selling government publications, according to RHI Consulting.

RHI Consulting, with more than 90 locations in the United States, Canada and Europe, provides firms with skilled information technology professionals for projects ranging from multiplatform systems integration to help desk and network support.

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