Tech Workers Last Year Saw Highest Pay Growth Since 2008

Technology professionals on average earned salary increases of more than 2 percent in 2011, their largest annual salary growth since 2008, according to a new survey by

Dice's 2011-2012 annual salary survey of more than 18,000 IT professionals found that after two years of wages remaining nearly flat, tech professionals finally saw average increases of more than 2 percent, boosting their average annual salary to $81,327 from $79,384 in 2010.

Tech professionals in the private sector also saw a considerable jump in the size of average bonuses, which were up eight percent to $8,769 in 2011. The number of tech professionals receiving bonuses last year also increased to 32 percent, compared with 29 percent in 2010 and 24 percent in 2009. The industries most likely to pay out bonuses were telecom, hardware, banking, utilities/energy and software, the survey found.

These increases come as all federal workers are under a two-year freeze on across-the-board pay increases. The two-year pay freeze does not apply to performance awards and bonuses, promotions, within-grade increases, quality step increases and other forms of incentive pay for federal workers.

Still, despite the average rise in overall pay, entry-level salaries continue to push downward, Dice found. Professionals who generally saw their wages increase were those with 11 or more years of experience in their field.

Technology professionals in Silicon Valley continue to be the most well-paid, with annual salaries topping six figures for the first time since Dice began the survey a decade ago. Tech workers in Silicon Valley brought home an average annual salary of $104,195 in 2011, up 5 percent over last year. Thirty-eight percent of tech professionals in the valley also received bonuses averaging $12,450.

Average salaries in the Washington D.C./Baltimore area also increased 6 percent in 2011, to $94,317. Other areas seeing growth in tech salaries were Austin ($89,419), Portland ($82,055) and Houston ($89,307).

"Conventional wisdom says that as Silicon Valley goes, so goes the tech world," said Tom Silver, "Nationally, we're seeing stiffer competition and higher salaries for tech pros with the right skill sets and the right experience level."

How do your skills, salary and other incentives stack up? Do the survey results make you more satisfied with your government IT job, or do they make you want to jump ship for the private sector?