With an average annual salary for Australian IT contractors of $129,071 and an average hourly rate of $83.46, working in technology sure beats flipping burgers. However, as with most average figures, the devil is in the detail: some career paths and locations pay much better, and there's an apparent shift towards longer-term contracts.
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That figure comes from an analysis of 1,112 placements made by members of the Information Technology Contract & Recruitment Association (ITCRA) between March and August this year. That's not an especially large number, and with good reason: the number of available roles overall dropped by 15.5 per cent over that time period.
"While contract lengths grew, the number of available contracts fell, which suggests the ICT industry is cautiously committing to longer-term projects," ITCRA CEO Julie Mills said in a statement.
Rates that are paid continue to vary significantly depending on industry sector, job location and technical specialisation. If you're looking to maximise your earning potential, a job as an analyst programmer in the financial services sector would be a good choice. Finance is the biggest paying sector overall (with an average annual salary of $160,706), while analyst programmer rates went up by 20 per cent (just ahead of architect pay rates which grew by 19 per cent).
Your level of skill and employment role will also have a heavy impact on your hourly rate. Technical specialists were paid as little as $22 an hour, while consultants could easily charge $155 an hour.
Some contract roles are also particularly poorly paid in individual states. This table highlights some of the differences:
|STATE||GOOD CHOICE||POOR CHOICE|
|NSW||Technical support (55% above national average)||Security consultants (49% below national average)|
|Victoria||Systems analysts (132% above national average)||Technical support (38% below national average)|
|Queensland||Systems analysts (156% above national average)||Communications specialists (39% below national average)|
|WA||Analysts (34% above national average)||Project coordinators (34% below national average)|
|SA||Project managers (6% above national average)||Account managers (71% below national average)|
Contracting isn't for everyone, and inevitably brings a degree of uncertainty. That said, identifying fast-growing areas and honing your skills remains a good strategy whether you want a contract role or a permanent position.
Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.