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Tech skills pulling in more pay, report says

Offshore outsourcing is no longer as much of a drag on wages for American IT professionals, according to a new salary study.

Judging from a new study on IT salaries, skilled techies need not be afraid of a little offshoring.

Offshore outsourcing is "no longer having a profound dampening effect on wages for U.S. IT professionals," Foote Partners said in the study, released Monday.

Though the value of application development, networking and systems administration skills declined in 2003 and early 2004, pay for those abilities has grown strongly in the past 12 months, said David Foote, co-founder of the research firm.

"The pendulum has since swung to the other side, as companies have become more aware of the difficulties in doing offshoring successfully and achieving anticipated cost savings," Foote said in a statement.

"(They're) once again investing in their own people to build and maintain systems critical to their business strategies," he added. "And they're using competitive pay to attract and hire workers with the right combinations of technical and business skills to do this."

There have been hopeful signs in the job scene for tech professionals recently. A study released a few months ago indicated that the U.S. technology industry turned a corner last year when it comes to employment woes. Job postings on tech-focused Dice.com rose 26 percent between Jan. 1 and June 1, with strong gains in eastern cities. And second-quarter job cuts at tech companies fell 33 percent from the first quarter.

On the other hand, the pace of tech-sector downsizing is ahead of the rate a year ago. Hewlett-Packard said Tuesday that it will lay off 14,500 workers, or about 10 percent of its staff. And the average number of unemployed workers in nine high-tech categories fell by 64,000 last year but remained close to 150,000, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

Foote Partners' research on skills pay covers 50,000 North American and European IT workers and examines pay tied to skills as a percent of base salary. The firm looks at certified skills--credentials such as Cisco Certified Network Professional--and noncertified skills, such as Voice over Internet Protocol expertise.

Overall pay for 89 noncertified technical skills grew 3.8 percent in the first six months of 2005, and 4.9 percent for the 12 months ended July 1, Foote Partners said. For 87 certified tech skills, it rose 1.3 percent in the first half of this year and 3 percent for the 12 months ended July 1.