In a Down Economy CIO Salaries Are Up. Why?


Most people who have been in Corporate America for a significant length of time might just smile and shake their heads if someone was to say “The higher up a person is on the corporate ladder must indicate his or her expertise in their chosen discipline”. Well, we kind of know that isn’t the case. And there always is the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know”. That saying usually indicated cronyism or nepotism.   But as Linda Tucci, senior news writer for TechTarget's CIO/IT Strategy Media Group reveals in her article entitled, IT salary survey: Highest earners are cozy with business, hard on IT, with a little twist there might be some truth to it.

Tucci reports that the annual TechTarget CIO/IT Strategy Media Group IT salary and career survey shows that in general salaries for senior and midlevel IT executives dipped in 2011 by 2%, but upon a closer look the salaries of the highest paid IT executives actually increased by 11%. Why did the highest paid IT execs get an increase in salary, while the rest of the IT execs saw a decrease?

Tucci examined the data and surmises there is a 2-pronged approach for the most successful earners at the senior IT level in a large corporation. The big money makers tend to spend a lot of time building relationships with senior management executives from the business side while at the same time these same execs tend to be less satisfied and are harder on their own IT group. It appears that the relationship building these executives cultivate with their business counter-parts garners support for their own teams. In fact “breaking down communications barriers between IT and the business” was the number one priority stated by these higher salaried IT executives. This is contrasted with “managing projects” as the top priority for the least paid among their colleagues. Tucci cites to one of these highly paid IT executive’s beliefs that the days of IT as a silo should be abandoned and quotes the executive, “CIOs need to be strategic partners of the other business executives. If you don't report to the CEO or are part of the C-suite, you cannot be successful today as a CIO.”

The profile developed from Tucci’s article was based on responses from 875 senior and midlevel IT executives across all markets and categorized by earning power: Highest earners are those who make more than $210,000 a year; midlevel earners make $90,000 to $210,000; low earners -- the remaining IT executives -- make less than $90,000. The data came from a survey fielded in November 2011 by and that gathered more than 1,700 responses from IT executives and roles globally across 32 industries.


Tasks by Salary Level

Please Note: Low Earners percentages are in LEFT column, Mid-Level Earners $90,000 to $120,000 percentages are in the MIDDLE column, and High Earners percentages are in the RIGHT column.


Using technology creatively to achieve business goals




Breaking down communications barriers between IT and business




Managing projects




Building and managing teams




Integrating or consolidating technologies




Breaking down communications
barriers within IT




Containing costs





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