Health IT Salaries Lag Behind Most IT Fields

By Brittany Ballenstedt

April 24, 2013

Health IT professionals are seeing relatively flat salaries this year, and many are slightly behind their counterparts in other IT fields when it comes to compensation, according to a new report.

The Information Week 2013 Salary Survey of 1,297 health IT professionals found the median annual base pay for health IT staff in 2013 is $83,000, the same as one year ago. Pay for health IT professionals in management positions increased slightly this year, to $112,000, up from $109,000 in 2012.

Health IT salaries lagged behind those in the IT industry overall this year, with median salaries for IT staff at $87,000. The median salary for IT managers overall was $110,000, slightly lower than the median salary for health IT professionals.

But while health IT managers are earning higher base pay, they also are seeing smaller bonuses than the typical IT manager, Information Week found. Total compensation, which includes base salaries, bonuses and any other direct cash payments, increased by a median of 1.2 percent this year among health IT staffers, to a median of $85,000, and 1.9 percent for health IT managers, to $117,000. This year, just 4 percent of pay for health IT managers came beyond base pay, compared with 8 percent for IT professionals overall, the survey found.

One reason why health IT salaries may lag is because the industry includes a lot of nonprofit and government organizations, which often tend to pay their employees less than private sector organizations, the report states. Median pay for health IT staff in the nonprofit sector is $65,000, while those in state and local government jobs earn around $70,000, far below the health care median of $83,000.

“IT professionals in the federal government tend to have earnings more comparable with those in the private sector,” the survey states.

The survey also indicated a positive trend towards more equality in compensation between men and women in health IT jobs. For health IT staff, men earn $85,000 and women $84,000 in median total compensation. For managers, men earn $118,000 and women $117,000. That’s roughly a 1 percent difference, while in IT jobs overall, female staffers earn 13 percent less.

“The landscape is largely positive for women in health IT,” the survey states. “Though it remains a male-dominated field, the gender gap has almost disappeared when it comes to paychecks.”

Meanwhile, health IT pros also noted different motivators than their general IT counterparts. The top five motivators for health IT staffers are base pay, job stability, flexible work schedules, having their opinion valued and benefits. For managers, it’s having opinions valued, challenge/responsibility, job stability, base pay and benefits.

And despite having slightly lower salaries than their general IT counterparts, health IT staff and managers remain satisfied with their jobs and their pay. Roughly two-thirds of managers and 60 percent of staff say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their pay. They also had similar satisfaction rates with their jobs as a whole, the study found. 

By Brittany Ballenstedt

April 24, 2013