Martin Hale, a director of IT Masters, an industry-based organisation that partners with Charles Sturt University to provide online Masters degrees to IT professionals, said the data showed that the cost of graduate and post-graduate studies could be defrayed in three years due to the higher income.
“According to the latest Census, only 66% of people working across all categories of employment in the IT industry have university qualifications,” said Hale (below, right), who is also a director of IT Professionals Association, an industry lobby group.
“When you average out incomes earned in the industry, those with university qualifications are receiving more than 11.5% than unqualified workers.
“If you multiply that over a 25-year period, the value of completing a degree is clearly apparent. When you look at the average cost of a graduate or post-graduate degree that can now be conveniently completed online, that investment in your career will be returned within three years.”
The ABS data showed that even at the lower end of the pay scale, entry-level IT professionals such as programmers/developers and IT support personnel with university degrees were earning substantially more than people without a degree.
Hale said more than 78% of people in the ABS category of Programmers/Developers had university qualifications and the data confirmed that they earned more than 5% more than those with only secondary education in these traditional entry-level roles.
“Meanwhile, tertiary educated people in the IT support category — another starting point for people who want to work in the industry — earn over 11% more for their commitment to complete a degree. In light of that statistic, it is surprising that only 42% working in IT Support have completed a university qualification when the pay-off is so clear."
He said it was fair to assume from the data that people graduating from university were finding higher-paid programming and developer roles as they entered the industry, as opposed to those who entered via IT support where the wages are lower.
Hale said another conclusion that could be drawn from the Census data was that the more one studied, the higher one's income grew. With IT Security Specialists proving to be much in demand, this was also a role where university qualifications could boost average income,
“In cyber security operations, average wages are 17% higher for people who can claim a post-graduate or masters' university degree on their resume,” he said. “Data from the 2016 Census identified that the average wage in this category sits at $99,996 where respondents only had secondary-level qualifications.
“However, this rose to $117,260 for those with post-graduate qualifications showing that it really pays off to continue studying beyond your first degree."