IT Salary Guide

IT Contractors Salary Guide

Anyone thinking about working as an IT contractor will of course ask themselves certain questions before making the leap. Will it deliver all that on all the advantages that are frequently mentioned – more flexibility, more freedom, broader skills development and a chance to widen employment horizons? Ask most contractors and their answer will inevitably be yes. It does deliver on all those things and more. And most will point out that these days, particularly in IT, there are very few permanent jobs anyway. They will also tell you that there are some disadvantages too – that same freedom and flexibility, though a boon for many can be difficult for others and hard to manage. But the main thing that most contractors will tell you is that the money is better. Much, much better. Of course you need to factor in that contractors will not be in receipt of the usual benefits, final salary pensions and holidays (including sick leave and maternity leave) but they can earn more than enough to put these in place themselves and still be a lot better off. How is this possible? Simply because when it comes to the financial incentive of moving to contracting all you need to know is that a contractor can easily be earning twice the salary of a regular employee, often for doing the same job. They are offered such high rates because they are normally specialists in a given role and therefore have in-demand skills that a company might need and their permanent staff might not have and because they offer a flexible and short-term solution (available on-demand) that many companies will inevitably prefer over taking someone on full time. So even though the company will pay them more for a job than they would pay an employee, they will be saving money by not having to hire them full time and give them benefits.

Make sure your getting what you’re worth

Consequently, depending on which part of the IT industry you work for and which skills you concentrate on specialising in, it is very possible you could end up commanding very high pay rates. On top of that there are also a couple of ways that contractors can make the most of their income through dedicated tax vehicles and tax / expenses perks, using either umbrella companies or limited companies. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and allow you to choose whether to handle all of your taxes / expenses yourself (but have to waste a lot of time doing so and therefore spending less time on your contract work) via a limited company or let someone else do it for you, for a small charge. Either way you will be able to take home more of your own pay than if you were working as a regular employee.

IT contractors have always been the most in-demand workers of the contracting sector. After all, every company needs IT these days and not all of them can afford to maintain their own IT department. It is for this reason that IT contractors are able to ride out the ups and downs of the employment market and the economy, from boom times to recession and back again. This can be seen in the effect that the most recent recession had on the IT contracting market post-2008. After that, contracting work certainly became harder to find compared to the years before and market rates also fell. In 2009 the total number of IT contracting jobs fell by a massive 60% on the previous year. But thereafter, unlike other, earlier downturns many clients simply cut the rates they were paying rather than actually get rid of the contracting roles altogether. That’s because what usually happens is that an IT department of a large company is told to cut costs and cut staff and they work out that the best way they can do this – keeping up skills levels whilst cutting costs – is to hire contractors rather than hiring or firing permanent staff.

It is for this reason that IT contractors will seemingly always find work and also simultaneously are like the proverbial canary in the coal mine – they are the first to see suffering (in the form of rates cuts) in downturns and the first to benefit when those green shoots of a rising economy first appear.

The current contracting market provides proof of this theory. As the UK economy has started to pick up, so have the rates being offered to IT contractors and the demand for their services. The third quarter of 2014 has seen opportunities in the IT jobs market rise yet again and by a far bigger margin than previously expected. Indeed the opportunities for IT contractors rose over the last couple of months at their fastest rate in more than 16 years, with the index score for the contracting sector rising from 63.9 in July of 2014 to 65.6 in September. This was the highest reading (non-seasonally adjusted) since December of 2013. REC (the Recruitment & Employment Confederation) who manage the index (along with KPMG) noted that these scores show a sharp growth in the appetite for IT workers during August and September, adding that the rate of expansion also accelerated significantly for the fourth month in a row. And, as highlighted above, it is believed that the buoyancy in the market for IT contractors comes from a new confidence amongst those holding the purse strings at end-client companies. This confidence leads those companies to decide that now is the time to once again invest in their IT departments after a few years of exercising restraint. However, they are not quite confident enough to invest in permanent staff, preferring short-term contractors who offer flexibility and access to so-called strategic skills and up-to-date IT knowledge.


As of August / September 2014 the skills that were most in demand from clients from contractors were Sql and Linux, .Net, Java, Development and business Intelligence. These were also, therefore, the skills that were responsible for the largest growth in rates. Helen Jackson of CIO Advisory Practice (at KMPG) said of this growth that


‘desperation to fill recruitment holes is leading to continued wage growth and this is creating a market that is both unsustainable and unrealistic.’

That said, the incredible demand for IT contractors with specific skills is part of a much longer-term pattern that highlights why they are constantly in such demand. Recent figures released by the Institution of Engineering and Technology revealed that the proportion of recruitment that UK businesses were concentrating on IT (as well as other technical jobs) was now at its highest point in 4 years, now standing at an incredible 41%. However, the most important finding in the survey (conducted in April of 2014) was that the companies doing the hiring did not expect that they would be able to get the required ‘suitably qualified’ candidates for their IT and technical projects. In other words, confidence levels amongst those same decision makers has fallen over the last year to pre-crash levels with employers becoming ever more convinced that there are simply not enough suitably-skilled candidates around to work on their latest projects or the projects of their competitors. Interestingly (and worryingly for current IT contractors) the main reason given for this pessimism was their previous experience with IT contractors. Nearly half of the employers who were interviewed (44%) expressed pessimism about future IT projects based on previous attempts to hire technically competent staff and their experience or previous workers who ‘did not reach reasonable expectations on levels of skills.’

Placing this survey alongside previous surveys by the Institution of Engineering and Technology shows that this skills gap in the UK has been a problem for some time now, highlighted by the fact that 2014 is the 9th year in a row that the gap in technical skills has increased. The Institution noted of these figures that:

“Employers indicated they are finding it more difficult to recruit the people they want, in particular those with 5-10 years’ work experience… For the IT sector, the biggest concern was recruiting IT apprentices, an 8% increase since 2013. However employers have reported that they are finding it increasingly easy to recruit IT managers this year.”

They also pointed out that the figures were proof, if needed, that the UK’s skills gap was ongoing and could eventually be a threat to economic recovery. Chief Executive of the Institution of Engineering and Technology added that ‘there needs to be a deeper engagement between employers and the education system to produce a talent pipeline that can sustain a thriving UK economy.’

Nevertheless, this skills shortage is of course excellent news for those contractors who do have the required skills and explains why some IT contractors attract such high earnings. IT contractors possessing up-to-date knowledge can in many areas earn more than £100 per hour, compared to the (still decent) average wages of £40 per hour. The jobs which pay the highest will be those in which clients are seeking very precise roles – such as ‘Head of Architecture’, ‘Head of User Experience’ or ‘Senior Data Analyst’ – whilst also bringing to the table a wide range of business skills for the client to draw on at the same time.

The combination of specific technical ability alongside a large amount of industry experience is essentially the golden ticket for a contractor. Clients also want contractors who have specialised in their particular sector, such as doing specific IT roles for the financial and banking industries and who therefore understand all the processes, issues and terminology of that particular industry. Other factors that need to be taken into account when looking at levels of pay include the location the work is done in and the state of the economy. Obviously the highest rates of pay are in the South East of England with the City and Greater London commanding the top rates. The economy has been in the doldrums for the last few years but as mentioned above, IT contracting is relatively immune. Thats not to say there weren’t significant effects on the IT contracting market – there were and contract work did get harder to find but as mentioned in the introduction this was balanced out by companies taking on contractors to replace cuts in full time staff – and rates are now returning to their highest levels once again.


The following tables list should provide some ideas as to which skills currently offer the best rates, which skills are most in demand and which skills have emerged as important over the last year:


Top Ten IT Contracting Skills By Daily Rate:

  • Head of Architecture – £750
  • Programme Director – £740
  • Head of User Experience – £710
  • Head of Business Intelligence – £700
  • IT Director/CTO – £690
  • IT Programme Manager – £675
  • DevOps Manager – £670
  • Head of Security – £650
  • Head of IT – £650
  • Murex – £620


Top Ten IT Contracting Skills by Demand:

  • Analyst – £350
  • Project Management – £415
  • SAP – £430
  • Java – £400
  • Architect – £500
  • .NET – £375
  • SQL – £370
  • C# – £375
  • Oracle – £430
  • Linux – £400

Top Ten Emerging IT Skills in 2014:

  • Sharepoint 2013 – £400
  • Scala – £470
  • NoSQL – £450
  • Sass – £350
  • Cyber Security – £450
  • Big Data – £500
  • PaaS – £485
  • Cucumber – £400
  • Groovy – £460
  • Apple iOS – £375

it contractors salary guide


Junior Functional Consultant / SME40,00045,000300400
Junior Technical Consultant / SME35,00040,000250350
Junior Technical Support25,00030,000150250
Junior Functional Support25,00030,000200300
Intermediate Functional Consultant / SME50,00060,000400500
Intermediate Technical Consultant / SME40,00050,000350450
Intermediate Technical Support30,00035,000250350
Intermediate Functional Support30,00035,000300400
Senior Functional Consultant / SME60,00070,000500600
Senior Technical Consultant / SME50,00060,000450550
Senior Technical Support35,00040,000350450
Senior Functional Support35,00040,000400500


Intermediate Head of Business Analysis55,00065,000500600
Senior Head of Business Analysis65,00095,000600800
Chief Information Officer / CIO90,000125,0001,6002,200
Intermediate IT Director75,000100,0008001,200
Intermediate Head of IT55,00075,000500800
Intermediate Development Manager60,00065,000400500
Intermediate Infrastructure Manager45,00055,000400500
Intermediate Service / Vendor Manager50,00055,000400500
Senior IT Director90,000125,0001,2001,600
Senior Head of IT75,00085,0008001,100
Senior Development Manager65,00070,000500600
Senior Infrastructure Manager55,00065,000500600
Senior Service / Vendor Manager55,00065,000500600


Chief Information Security Officer80,000120,0005002,000
Head of Information Security55,00070,0005001,000
Junior Information / IT Security Analyst25,00035,000200350
Intermediate Information / IT Security Analyst40,00045,000300350
Senior Information / IT Security Analyst50,00060,000400500
Intermediate Information Security Manager40,00050,000350500
Senior Information Security Manager55,00070,000500800
Junior Information Security Consultant35,00038,500n/an/a
Intermediate Information Security Consultant40,00050,000350400
Senior Information Security Consultant55,00082,500450600
Intermediate Information Security Officer37,50045,500300400
Information Security Officer50,00062,500400500
Junior Network Security Engineer37,50041,500250300
Intermediate Network Security Engineer45,00051,000300350
Senior Network Security Engineer49,50051,500375450
Intermediate Network Security Consultant/Architect40,00052,500325400
Senior Network Security Consultant/Architect55,00065,500400600
Intermediate Network Security Manager45,00050,000350500
Senior Network Security Manager55,00062,500500700
Junior CLAS Consultant37,50047,500400500
Intermediate CLAS Consultant55,00070,000500700
Senior CLAS Consultant75,00090,0007001,000
QSA Consultant50,00075,5005001,000
Intermediate Penetration Tester / Application Security Specialist40,00045,000350500
Senior Penetration Tester / Application Security Specialist50,00070,0005001,000


Junior ITSM Technical Consultant25,00035,000250300
Intermediate ITSM Technical Consultant40,00045,000350400
Senior ITSM Technical Consultant50,00070,000450600
Senior ITSM Transition Manager50,00070,000450600
Intermediate ITSM Project  Manager40,00045,000350400
Senior ITSM Project  Manager50,00070,000450600
Junior ITSM Support Consultant25,00030,000100150
Intermediate ITSM Support Consultant35,00037,500200250
Senior ITSM Support Consultant40,00045,000275300
Intermediate ITSM Service Desk Manager35,00045,000275350
Senior ITSM Service Desk Manager50,00060,000375450
Senior ITSM Trainer50,00070,000450600
Senior ITSM Programme  Manager50,00070,000500700
Intermediate ITSM Solutions Architect45,00047,500400450
Senior ITSM Solutions Architect50,00060,000500600


Junior Embedded Software Engineer25,00030,000n/an/a
Junior Firmware Engineer25,00030,000n/an/a
Junior Electronics / Hardware Engineer20,00030,000n/an/a
Intermediate Embedded Software Engineer35,00045,000280350
Intermediate Firmware Engineer35,00045,000280320
Intermediate Electronics / Hardware Engineer35,00045,000225300
Senior Embedded Software Engineer45,00065,000350450
Senior Firmware Engineer45,00065,000340400
Senior Electronics / Hardware Engineer45,00060,000325360


Junior Infrastructure Architect40,00050,000350450
Intermediate Enterprise Architect70,00080,000500600
Intermediate Applications / Solutions Architect50,00060,000450550
Intermediate Infrastructure Architect50,00050,000450550
Intermediate Security Architect60,00070,0008501,100
Senior Enterprise Architect80,00090,000600800
Senior Applications / Solutions Architect60,00070,000550750
Senior Infrastructure Architect60,00070,000550750
Senior Security Architect70,00080,0001,1001,600


Junior Developer / Software Developer25,00032,000225275
Junior Net Developer25,00032,000225275
Junior C# Developer25,00032,000225275
Junior C++ Developer25,00030,000225275
Junior ASP.Net Developer25,00032,000225275
Junior Java Developer30,00035,000250300
Junior J2EE Developer25,00032,000250300
Junior SAP Consultant40,00050,000300375
Junior SQL Developer25,00028,000225275
Junior SharePoint Developer25,00032,000225275
Junior Mainframe Developer25,00030,000250300
Junior Oracle Developer25,00032,000250300
Junior Middleware Messaging Developer25,00032,000250300
Junior Database Administrator25,00032,000250300
Junior Oracle Database Administrator25,00032,000250300
Junior Sybase Administrator25,00032,000250300
Junior SQL Database Administrator25,00032,000250300
Intermediate Developer / Software Developer35,00040,000275375
Intermediate Net Developer35,00038,000275375
Intermediate C# Developer35,00038,000275375
Intermediate C++ Developer30,00035,000275375
Intermediate ASP.Net Developer32,00038,000275375
Intermediate Java Developer35,00040,000300400
Intermediate J2EE Developer35,00040,000300400
Intermediate SAP Consultant50,00055,000375450
Intermediate SQL Developer30,00035,000275375
Intermediate SharePoint Developer32,00038,000275375
Intermediate Mainframe Developer35,00040,000300400
Intermediate Oracle Developer32,00040,000300400
Intermediate Middleware Messaging Developer35,00038,000300400
Intermediate Database Administrator35,00040,000300400
Intermediate Oracle Database Administrator35,00040,000300400
Intermediate Sybase Administrator35,00040,000300400
Intermediate SQL Database Administrator35,00040,000300400
Senior Developer / Software Developer40,00048,000375450
Senior Net Developer40,00048,000375450
Senior C# Developer40,00048,000375450
Senior C++ Developer40,00048,000375450
Senior ASP.Net Developer40,00050,000375450
Senior Java Developer45,00050,000400450
Senior J2EE Developer45,00050,000400500
Senior SAP Consultant60,00075,000450525
Senior SQL Developer40,00048,000375450
Senior SharePoint Developer40,00048,000375450
Senior Mainframe Developer45,00050,000400450
Senior Oracle Developer42,00050,000400450
Senior Middleware Messaging Developer40,00045,000400450
Senior Database Administrator45,00050,000400450
Senior Oracle Database Administrator45,00050,000400450
Senior Sybase Administrator45,00050,000400450
Senior SQL Database Administrator45,00050,000400450


Junior Test Manager40,00050,000300350
Junior Test Analyst25,00030,000225250
Junior Tester20,00025,000200225
Intermediate Test Manager50,00055,000350450
Intermediate Test Analyst32,00038,000250300
Intermediate Tester25,00030,000225275
Senior Test Manager60,00070,000450550
Senior Test Analyst45,00050,000400450
Senior Tester35,00038,000275300


Junior Service Delivery Manager37,00040,000n/an/a
Junior Network Manager35,00040,000250300
Junior Server Support25,00032,500200275
Junior Desktop Support20,00022,000150175
Junior ITIL Service Delivery Analyst20,00022,000250300
Junior System Administrator – Unix28,00032,000250300
Junior Security Analyst / Security Engineer35,00040,000250300
Junior Security Consultant / Managern/an/a300350
Junior Helpdesk Analyst15,00022,000125150
Junior Capacity Planner25,00028,000150200
Junior Storage Management Analyst25,00028,000250300
Junior Problem / Incident Manager32,00038,000250300
Junior Network Engineer20,00028,000200275
Junior Network Consultantn/an/a200275
Intermediate IT Manager40,00045,000300400
Intermediate Helpdesk Manager30,00035,000250350
Intermediate Service Delivery Manager42,00046,000300400
Intermediate Network Manager42,00050,000300400
Intermediate Server Support35,00035,000275375
Intermediate Desktop Support22,00026,000175225
Intermediate ITIL Service Delivery Analyst22,00026,000300400
Intermediate System Administrator – Unix35,00040,000300400
Intermediate Security Analyst / Security Engineer42,00047,000300350
Intermediate Security Consultant / Manager45,00055,000350400
Intermediate Helpdesk Analyst22,00026,000150175
Intermediate Capacity Planner28,00032,000200250
Intermediate Storage Management Analyst28,00032,000300400
Intermediate Problem / Incident Manager38,00045,000323350
Intermediate Network Engineer28,00035,000275375
Intermediate Network Consultant40,00050,000275375
Senior IT Manager50,00060,000400500
Senior Helpdesk Manager40,00048,000350450
Senior Service Delivery Manager50,00060,000400500
Senior Network Manager50,00060,000400500
Senior Server Support40,00045,000375450
Senior Desktop Support26,00030,000225250
Senior ITIL Service Delivery Analyst26,00030,000400450
Senior System Administrator – Unix45,00050,000400450
Senior Security Analyst / Security Engineer50,00055,000350450
Senior Security Consultant / Manager60,00065,000400650
Senior Helpdesk Analyst26,00030,000175200
Senior Capacity Planner32,00038,000250300
Senior Storage Management Analyst32,00038,000400450
Senior Problem / Incident Manager45,00050,000350375
Senior Network Engineer35,00045,000375450
Senior Network Consultant50,00060,000375450


Junior Project Manager40,00045,000300350
Junior Project Co-ordinator22,00025,000200250
Junior Project Planner25,00028,000200250
Junior Change Manager32,00035,000250300
Junior PMO Manager32,00038,000300400
Junior PMO Analyst22,00025,000200250
Junior Business Analyst25,00032,000250300
Junior Data Analyst22,00025,000200250
Intermediate Programme Director80,00090,0007501,250
Intermediate Programme Manager60,00070,000500750
Intermediate Project Manager45,00055,000350450
Intermediate Project Co-ordinator25,00028,000250300
Intermediate Project Planner30,00032,000250300
Intermediate Change Manager35,00045,000300400
Intermediate PMO Manager40,00050,000400500
Intermediate PMO Analyst43,00048,000250300
Intermediate Business Analyst32,00043,000300400
Intermediate Data Analyst25,00030,000250300
Senior Programme Director90,000120,0001,2501,750
Senior Programme Manager70,00080,0007501,250
Senior Project Manager60,00065,000600800
Senior Project Co-ordinator28,00033,000300400
Senior Project Planner35,00038,000300400
Senior Change Manager45,00050,000400450
Senior PMO Manager50,00060,000500600
Senior PMO Analyst28,00033,000300400
Senior Business Analyst50,00055,000450550