Are Tech Professionals' Expectations Being Met?

The report examines the gap between tech professionals' expectations and reality, focusing on salary satisfaction, career progression, and the impact of non-monetary benefits.

Are Tech Professionals' Expectations Being Met?

Table of Contents


In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, professionals in this sector face a unique set of challenges and expectations. The tech industry, known for its dynamic and fast-paced environment, constantly demands adaptation and upskilling from its workforce. However, there seems to be a growing disconnect between the expectations of tech professionals and the realities of their roles. This issue is becoming increasingly prevalent, raising concerns about job satisfaction, career growth, and the effective utilization of skills. The report delves into the heart of this matter, exploring the various factors contributing to this sentiment among tech workers.

As the demand for advanced technological skills surges, the industry is witnessing a paradoxical phenomenon. Despite an abundance of opportunities, there is a discernible mismatch between the aspirations of tech professionals and the realities of their work environments. This discrepancy not only impacts individual career trajectories but also has broader implications for the industry's innovation and productivity.

Moreover, this gap in expectations is not just a subjective feeling among tech workers. The LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report highlights a critical insight: skill sets for jobs have changed by approximately 25% since 2015, and this number is expected to double by 2027. This significant change in skill requirements emphasizes the urgent need for continuous learning and adaptation among tech professionals. It also reflects the rapidly evolving nature of the tech industry and the importance of aligning workforce capabilities with these changes.

Key Findings

Personal Evaluation of Salary

How do you perceive your current salary in relation to your skill set and experience in the tech industry?

Evaluating salary in relation to skill set and experience in the tech industry is a multifaceted process, considering the dynamic nature of the industry and varying factors like skill demand, geographical location, and market trends.

According to the Dice 2023 Tech Salary Report, the average salary for U.S. tech professionals was $111,348 in 2022, indicating a 2.3% rise from 2021. This growth suggests a sustained high demand for technology expertise. Specialized skills, particularly in data management (e.g., Elasticsearch, Apache Kafka, Teradata, Redis), command salaries exceeding $140,000, significantly above the average. This highlights the premium placed on niche, high-demand technical skills​​.

In terms of roles, there's a notable variance in compensation. Senior IT management roles (CIOs, CTOs) have an average salary of $164,814 annually. Product managers and project managers earn average salaries of $139,100 and $120,653, respectively. This variability implies that compensation is largely influenced by role responsibilities and managerial level. Furthermore, the Dice report predicts an increase in compensation for roles like data scientists and business analysts, underlining the growing importance of data expertise across industries​​.

Besides salary, the overall compensation package, including benefits like work-life balance, remote work options, and professional development opportunities, is increasingly crucial for tech professionals. These elements are often pivotal in job consideration, reflecting the evolving priorities in the tech workforce.

In what ways has salary met or fallen short of expectations when starting a tech career?

One of the common questions that tech workers have is how their salary meets or falls short of their expectations when starting a tech career. The answer to this question depends on several factors, such as the type of tech role, the location, and the level of experience and education.

The tech industry is known for its high-paying jobs, but not all tech roles are equally lucrative. According to CareerFoundry, the average base salary for the 10 best paying tech jobs in 2024 ranges from $69,000 for web developers to $132,720 for cloud solutions architects. However, a survey by Indeed reveals that 61% of tech workers feel underpaid, while only 9% feel overpaid. This suggests that there is a gap between the salary expectations and realities for many tech workers.

Another factor that affects the salary outcomes for tech workers is the location and cost of living. For example, the average salary for a software engineer in San Francisco is $148,000, while the average salary for the same role in Austin is $103,000. However, the cost of living in San Francisco is 62% higher than in Austin, which means that the purchasing power of the software engineer in Austin is actually higher. Therefore, tech workers should consider the purchasing power and quality of life in different cities before choosing where to work. They should also research the market rates and negotiate their salaries based on their skills and value. Additionally, they should look at the non-monetary benefits of working in tech, such as the opportunity to learn new skills, solve problems, and create innovative products.

Describe how salary influences motivation and job satisfaction?

Salary is one of the most important factors that influence motivation and job satisfaction for many employees. However, salary alone is not enough to ensure a happy and productive workforce. In this essay, I will describe how salary affects motivation and job satisfaction, and what other factors are also important.

According to a SHRM survey, 60% of employees rated compensation/pay as “very important” and 36% rated it as “important”, making it the top contributor to overall employee job satisfaction. However, a TeamStage survey found that only 20% of employees link job satisfaction to salaries, and the majority would rather fulfill their growth opportunity and goals than earn more money. This suggests that salary is a necessary but not sufficient condition for motivation and job satisfaction.

Other factors that affect motivation and job satisfaction include recognition, feedback, autonomy, work environment, work-life balance, and organizational culture. For example, a StandOut CV survey found that the most common reasons for feeling dissatisfied at work are “feeling undervalued” and "lack of respect from management". Moreover, a Gallup study shows that engaged employees, who feel a strong connection to their work and their employer, are 87% less likely to resign, 41% less likely to be absent, and 21% more profitable than disengaged employees. Therefore, employers should not only pay their employees fairly and competitively, but also provide them with opportunities for growth, development, and recognition.

Salary is a significant factor that influences motivation and job satisfaction, but it is not the only one. Employees also value other aspects of their work, such as the meaning, purpose, challenge, and feedback they receive. Employers who want to attract and retain the best talent should consider the holistic needs and expectations of their employees, and create a positive and supportive work culture.

How to evaluate the fairness of compensation compared to the colleagues within an organization?

Evaluating the fairness of compensation compared to the colleagues within an organization is a complex and subjective task. However, some possible steps are:

First, one should understand the criteria and process of determining the pay for different roles and levels in the organization. This includes factors such as skills, experience, performance, market rates, and organizational goals. A transparent and consistent pay system can enhance the perception of fairness and reduce the likelihood of bias or discrimination. According to a Gartner survey, only 32% of employees believe their pay is fair, and the main driver of perception is organizational trust.

Second, one should compare their pay with the average or median pay for similar roles and levels in the same industry and location. This can be done by using online tools, such as salary calculators, or by consulting with peers, mentors, or recruiters. However, one should also consider the variations and limitations of these sources, as they may not reflect the specific context and value of each individual. According to a McKinsey article, employees who perceive their pay as fair are more likely to be motivated and satisfied with their work.

Lastly, one should assess their pay in relation to their personal and professional goals, needs, and expectations. This includes factors such as career development, work-life balance, recognition, and feedback. One should also look at the non-monetary benefits of working in the organization, such as the culture, environment, and opportunities. According to a TeamStage survey, only 20% of employees link job satisfaction to salaries, and the majority would rather fulfill their growth opportunity and goals than earn more money.

Evaluating the fairness of compensation compared to the colleagues within an organization requires a holistic and objective approach, as well as a clear understanding of the pay system and the market rates. Moreover, one should also consider the other aspects of working in the organization that contribute to their motivation and job satisfaction.

Career and Salary Progression

How has salary satisfaction changed over the course of a career in tech?

Salary satisfaction is an important factor that influences the motivation, retention, and productivity of tech professionals. However, according to Dice’s latest Tech Salary Report, the average tech salary stood at $111,348 in 2022, but many tech pros were not happy with their compensation. In fact, 30% of professionals were either somewhat or very dissatisfied with their salaries in 2022, up from 28% in 2021, and the number of those very satisfied dropped to 20% from 22% in the prior year.

One of the reasons for this drop in salary satisfaction could be the high inflation rate that erodes the purchasing power of tech workers. Another reason could be the mismatch between the skills and expectations of tech professionals and the market demand and supply. For example, in 2022, HR professionals concentrated their efforts on hiring individuals highly knowledgeable in SQL and Java, while for 2023, they expect to struggle recruiting full-stack and back-end developers. Therefore, tech pros need to constantly update their skills and knowledge to stay relevant and competitive in the industry.

However, salary satisfaction is not only about money. It is also about the perks, benefits, and work environment that tech employers offer to their employees. According to CompTIA, 72% of IT pros are satisfied globally with their jobs, and some of the factors that contribute to their satisfaction are flexible work hours, remote work opportunities, performance bonus, paid vacation, and health insurance

Moreover, tech workers also value the opportunity to learn new skills, work on challenging projects, and advance their careers. Thus, salary satisfaction is a complex and dynamic phenomenon that depends on various individual and organizational factors.

How do you believe salary satisfaction affects long-term career aspirations in the tech industry?

Salary satisfaction plays a crucial role in shaping long-term career aspirations in the tech industry. It's a multi-faceted issue, influenced by various factors including market trends, wage gaps, and legislative changes.

Firstly, the tech industry has seen significant salary increases recently. In 2022, tech salaries rose by 6.7%, with certain niches, like those requiring mobile skills, witnessing a whopping 30% increase​​. This uptick in compensation is indicative of the high demand for skilled tech professionals and demonstrates the industry's capacity to offer lucrative career prospects. However, the satisfaction derived from these increases is not uniform across all demographics.

The Hired 2023 Impact Report on State of Wage Inequality in Tech highlights ongoing wage gaps, especially for underrepresented groups. For example, Hispanic men, Black men, Hispanic women, and Black women earn significantly less than their white male counterparts, with the gap ranging from $0.90 to $0.97 for every $1 earned by a white male​​. This inequality can impact career aspirations, as it may lead to feelings of undervaluation and demotivation, especially among those who are underpaid compared to their peers.

Moreover, salary transparency laws seem to be making a positive impact. In areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, where these laws are in effect, the wage gap for women has not only closed but reversed, moving from $0.95 pre-legislation to $1.02 post-legislation​​. This suggests that legislative measures and increased transparency can lead to more equitable pay, potentially boosting job satisfaction and long-term career aspirations.

While the tech industry offers substantial financial rewards, disparities in salary satisfaction due to wage gaps and discrimination can influence career trajectories. Legislative interventions and a focus on closing these gaps may not only foster a more equitable work environment but also encourage long-term commitment and career development within the tech sector.

What improvements or changes in salary structure would increase job satisfaction?

Enhancing job satisfaction through salary structure improvements involves both financial and non-financial strategies. According to the WorldatWork 2023 survey, 36% of organizations have adjusted their compensation structures in response to market rate changes. The prevalent compensation structure is market-based, used by 65% of respondents, reflecting a trend towards competitive, market-aligned salaries​​.

Employee engagement is also affected by salary satisfaction. A ConsumerAffairs study revealed that 47% of employees leave for higher pay, with 41% quitting due to insufficient raises. Yet, job satisfaction extends beyond just salary. Only 29% of employees are content with career advancement opportunities at their current jobs, indicating the importance of holistic employee engagement strategies​​.

In response to these trends, U.S. employers in 2023 have increased projected salary raises to 4.1%, up from 4% in the previous year, the largest increase since 2008. Additionally, over one-third of employers plan to raise salaries more frequently, with 92% considering biannual adjustments​​. Overall, while competitive salaries are essential, organizations must also address other factors like career development and work culture to effectively boost job satisfaction.

Financial Goals and Personal Needs

What non-monetary factors contribute to overall compensation satisfaction?

Non-monetary factors significantly contribute to overall compensation satisfaction and can be as influential, if not more, than monetary aspects.

Key non-monetary factors include:

  1. Recognition and Appreciation: Employees deeply value recognition for their contributions. Surveys have shown that a lack of employee recognition and engagement leads to 44% of employees changing jobs. Furthermore, 39% of employees feel underappreciated at work, and 77% reported they would work harder if they felt more recognized. Recognizing and appreciating employees can be as simple as saying "thank you" for a job well done, providing formal awards or certificates, or acknowledging their hard work during team meetings.
  1. Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible work arrangements is another powerful factor. This might involve flexible work hours, remote work options, or compressed work weeks, allowing employees to achieve a better work-life balance. In a survey, 54% of employees expressed a preference for a hybrid work culture, splitting their time between home and office, while 37% preferred to work from home exclusively.
  1. Professional Development and Career Growth: Opportunities for professional development, such as workshops, courses, and mentorship programs, are essential. These opportunities not only enhance employees' skills but also keep them engaged and motivated. Providing a clear career path, including the potential for promotions and new roles, and supporting skill development, are crucial for maintaining high levels of job satisfaction.

In addition to these, other factors like challenging projects, work-life balance initiatives, wellness programs, casual dress code, team-building activities, and flexible paid time off policies play a significant role in enhancing job satisfaction and employee engagement​​​​.

How does your current salary align with your personal financial goals and needs?

The alignment of current salaries with personal financial goals and needs is a complex issue, influenced by various economic factors and personal circumstances. In 2023, many Americans found it challenging to align their income with their financial aspirations. About 39% of Americans reported going deeper into debt, with only a quarter of those seeking a higher-paying job successfully finding one. This situation is compounded by the fact that 49% of Americans had to dip into their savings, and a staggering 51% would run out of money within a month if they lost their income​​.

The median weekly earnings for full-time wage and salary workers in the United States showed a 5.7% increase from $1,041 in the second quarter of 2022 to $1,100 in the second quarter of 2023. This increment, although positive, was challenged by rising living costs and inflation. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers also rose by 4.0% over the same period, indicating that the increase in wages might not fully compensate for the higher cost of living​​.

These statistics underscore a widespread issue where many Americans are struggling to meet their financial goals despite modest increases in earnings. High costs of living, rising debt levels, and the challenge of finding better-paying jobs have made it difficult for a significant portion of the population to achieve financial stability and align their salaries with their financial needs and goals.

Describe any discrepancies observed between salary satisfaction and job role or seniority in the field.

Discrepancies in salary satisfaction across different job roles and levels of seniority are evident in the workforce. Pew Research Center's research shows that job satisfaction varies significantly with income level. Workers with higher family incomes express greater satisfaction with their jobs, benefits, and opportunities for promotion. Specifically, 57% of those with higher family incomes report being extremely or very satisfied with their job overall, compared to 51% of those with middle incomes and 45% of those with lower incomes. Additionally, satisfaction with employer benefits and pay is significantly higher among middle-income workers compared to lower-income ones​​.

In terms of the work model, remote workers report higher satisfaction with their working environment, with 70.2% expressing happiness, compared to 64.6% of in-office workers. However, satisfaction with job security is strongest among employees working on-premises. The flexibility to work remotely or follow a hybrid model significantly impacts job satisfaction, with the freedom to take time off work more than doubling the likelihood of job satisfaction. A notable 60.1% of surveyed workers were satisfied with their work/life balance, a significant increase from previous years​​.

When considering the impact of gender and racial disparities on salary satisfaction, the Pew Research Center found that there are notable differences in salary satisfaction by gender. Men are more likely than women to say they are extremely or very satisfied with the benefits their employer provides and with their pay. Specifically, 39% of men compared to 30% of women expressed high satisfaction with their pay. This reflects broader systemic issues related to gender that contribute to varying levels of salary satisfaction among different groups within the workforce​​.


ClanX conducted a survey in December 2023 with 315 participants from working in tech companies across different branches and seniority positions,the distribution across different types of organizations is as follows:

The survey included 10 multiple-choice questions and additional subjective questions to gain a deeper understanding of the respondents' perspectives.

This distribution maintains a greater representation from Large corporations and growth-stage startups, with the total number of participants set at 315.


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