Storage salaries edge up in lean times


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Storage salaries are higher than last year, but not by much. Still, on-the-job training and new technologies are good enough reasons to love your job in tight times.

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The results of our eighth annual Storage magazine/SearchStorage.com Salary Survey reflect a larger economic trend of tightly strapped salaries that loosened by only a few inches in 2010, and spending that's limited to projects with tangible ROI. This year, our 326 respondents said they earned an average annual salary of $96,554 vs. $96,425 in 2009, less than a 1% increase.

That's a much smaller year-over-year increase than we've seen in our previous surveys; in 2009, respondents reported a 3.5% year-over-year salary jump while our 2008 survey sample reported a 6% rise over 2007.

Still, our 2010 survey respondents earned a good chunk more than our 2009 group of 363 respondents; the average salary reported by last year's respondents was $85,869.

Economy still a drag

Headed into 2011, and looking at an economic picture too hazy for anyone to predict with confidence, this year's Salary Survey respondents are apparently hunkering down and expecting budgets and salaries to stay locked down. Indeed, they estimate their compensation will drop in 2011 to $95,087, representing a 1.5% decrease from 2009.

As perhaps another indication of an intimidating economy, approximately 33% of this year's respondents stated they were in "maintenance mode," or, as one respondent wrote: "Very much in maintenance mode. The current economic climate will not allow for much more."

However, many of those surveyed reported taking on the sort of ambitious data storage projects that lean times demand -- ones designed to eventually cut costs and increase efficiency. Newly virtualized environments, implementing archiving tiers and consolidating data centers are all projects that ranked as priorities in our survey and follow-up interviews.

For Eric Hall, IT infrastructure engineer at a San Francisco-based multimedia company, virtualization and data deduplication projects completed in 2010 were a success. But, he added, "we still struggle to keep up with the demand." Like most storage admins, Hall noted, his shop has "capacity issues."

"We buy a couple of terabytes of backup, and then the storage is out of control," Hall said, echoing a sentiment familiar to plenty of our survey takers. And while stress and workloads seem to increase with the size of data stores, so do salaries, according to our results. Those managing less than 1 TB averaged $73,156, while those managing between 100 TB and 500 TB earned an average of $123,681.

This was first published in December 2010

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