2006-2007 TCPMag.com Internetworking Salary Survey Salaries are up -- way up! -- across the board for those of you holding Cisco certification titles, with both starting salaries and top-tier credentials bringing in significantly more than ever before.
It's been more than two years since we last conducted the last TCPmag.com Internetworking Salary Survey. In that time, if you're an IT professional working with Cisco technology and you haven't seen your salary rise, then you're in a small minority -- at least compared to TCPmag.com's readership.
The PDF version of this article features numerous bonus charts, including break-downs of average salary by experience and certification, CCIE and QoS specialty, most popular training methods, averages by state and more. Free registration is required for this PDF. Get it here.
Across the board, averages for all Cisco certifications are up -- and not just by a few thousand. For example, the average salary in 2004 for those of you who held a CCNA was $60,000 -- now, that number has jumped to a little more than $76,000. Higher-end Cisco certifications are also doing well, with, for example, the average CCIE reporting a salary of a little more than $116,000, up from $102,000 a few years ago. In fact, based on our history of doing this survey (since 2001), if you're a professional working with Cisco technologies and holding a Cisco certification, on average you're earning more than you ever did before.
Of course, many factors go into these figures, including other certifications held, where one lives, technical specialties and -- with more than 50 percent of readers taking this survey having worked more than 10 years in IT (you all are a seasoned bunch!) -- experience. We'll break it all down for you below, showing you the averages based on a number of different factors to help you best determine where you should fall.
Average Salary by Certification
Let's first jump into what you come to this salary survey for: the average salary for those holding various Cisco certifications. Below is Chart 1, which breaks out the certification averages for the various Cisco certifications. We've also included data showing the averages from our last survey published in early 2004.
Some important notes:
A breakout for Cisco's CCDA is not included in this survey's charts. As in previous years, while we had enough readers reporting holding the CCDA to achieve a statistically valid average, the vast majority of these readers also hold higher-level Cisco certifications. So once again we chose to calculate those salaries as part of those more premium titles, presuming that the latter would have a greater impact on salary than the CCDA itself.
Not enough readers surveyed held the CCIP or Cisco's CCVP to get a statically valid average, which is why those two titles are not broken out in this or other charts in this survey.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the results.
As you can see from Chart 1, Cisco's CCNA took a major jump, from an average of $60,000 in 2004 to a bit over $76,000 in 2006 -- a rise of 26 percent. That's huge, but it's a rise that's taken place over a period of a years between surveys, during which the value of Cisco-related technology skills has improved as well as the IT the job market overall. Cisco’s also done a lot in the last few years to raise the perceived value of its lower- and mid-level certifications (like adding hands-on questions) – giving titles like the CCNA a good reputation in the marketplace.
And the CCNA isn't the only title up -- across the board, the various Cisco certifications made major gains over the last year, with CCIE jumping 14 percent between this year's survey and 2004, and the CCNP jumping a whopping 31 percent in the same amount of time, giving those of you that hold the title an average salary of more than $88,000 a year.
The new titles added to this year's survey -- Cisco CCSP and Cisco's Qualified Specialist -- showed healthy numbers, as well, with a $93,995 average for the security title and an $87,247 average for those you of holding one or more of Cisco's 20-plus Qualified Specialist certifications. (For a breakdown of the average salary by specialty see the chart in our expanded PDF version of this survey here.)
Still, many factors play into these averages, so let's delve deeper into those.
Experience Is Key
As mentioned earlier, your experience in the IT field is going to have a major impact on your salary. Chart 2, below, breaks out the average salary by years of experience in the IT field of all readers who participated in this survey.
This chart shows that those with 10 or more years of experience earn an average of $78,755 -- significantly more than those with less than five years of experience, who rest in the $40K to mid-$50K range. With more than $20,000 splitting those last five years, you can see the difference experience brings.
Notice that those with less than one year of experience are reporting a higher average than those in the range of one to three years. This could be yet another indication of the rise of average Cisco-related salaries overall during the past few surveys -- after the downturn a few years ago (see our 2004 Salary Survey), employers appear to now be willing to pay more for Cisco-related skills -- something that may be reflected in the salary of those hired within the last 12 months versus those who were hired when salaries didn't average as high
Still, experience is probably the most significant factor in any salary. (For further breakdowns of average base salary by experience per certification, see the bonus charts in our expanded PDF of this survey, here.)
Other Base Salary Factors
But experience isn't the only factor -- you also need to know where you fall compared to the rest of those who took this survey. Chart 3 shows the average salary and other statistics of all participants.
Our average survey participant earned $71,150. There were a significant number of noncertified professionals taking this survey, and the average base salary for those without certifications is slightly less than those holding a certification. Also note that, as mentioned earlier, more than 50 percent of those who took this survey reported having 10 or more years experience in the IT industry.
As mentioned earlier, other certifications held can also affect the average salary by certification. For example, while the average base salary for all participants holding a CCNA is $76,500, when we looked at the average for those holding only the CCNA, that average drops to $68,332 -- a figure more in line with what one would expect for someone holding only the first level of Cisco certification.
Another factor is that salaries themselves appear to be going up across the board, with or without certification. Most readers -- 65.3 percent -- saw their base salary rise during the past 12 months, with an average increase of $5,939, or approximately 8 percent of the average salary, as shown in Chart 4.
Chart 4: How Has Your Salary
Changed in the
Last 12 Months?
While certification is never the be-all, end-all of any salary, almost 40 percent of you said that gaining a new Cisco certification would be the biggest factor in improving your current salary, as shown in Chart 5.
Chart 5: What Would Have the Biggest Impact on Improving Your Current Salary?
Compare this to answers to the same question in our 2004 salary survey. Back then, 37 percent of you said that working for a different company would have the biggest impact, and only 19 percent of you said that obtaining a new Cisco certification would have the biggest impact. In fact, only 17.5 percent of you who saw an increase in the past year said it was due to a change in employers (see Chart 6).
Chart 6: If There Was a Change in Your Salary, Was It Due to a Change in Employers?
Even though those with Cisco certifications appear to be riding high right now, it's important to remember all the other factors that go into the average salaries -- and that they are averages. Experience, job skills (Cisco-related and others), your employer, your location -- all of these will play heavily into what you earn.
Also remember that the job market -- in your area and overall -- can turn on a dime. So if you're new to IT (especially if you’re new to IT), don't think you'll be able to jump in and earn exactly what people in this survey are; the next 12 months may bring something complete different.