Indian IT salaries demystified

If a person with a laptop bag goes to a vegetable market in Bangalore, the prices are hiked by 10 percent. The assumption here is a person carrying a laptop is an IT employee or, as they say, a techie. Most of the time the assumption isn’t wrong. In Bangalore, the techies are everywhere. And why should merchants and service providers charge a techie more? Well, he’s getting a fat cheque. How true is that? We will get to that in a bit. Even if it’s true, why should extra be paid just because someone is earning more? If all prices were based on this premise (which always is the case), wouldn’t the IT employee be taking home a lot less? This is true for most things (from house rents to auto fares to the daily vegetables and fruits). IT employees might be getting more, but they are spending more too.

Coming back to the notion of fat cheques for the IT employees, it’s not entirely true. Sure there are corner cases and outliers but for the most part the salaries are inflated. They are inflated in communication. People tend to tell the gross salaries, which sounds kind of cool. While doing this there is a rounding off which happens at a different scale. A 42,000 gross salary is rounded off to 45,000 or 50,000. That gross salary is the cost to company and not what the employee takes home. Doing so satisfies the ego and in some cases it increases the marriage prospects for the groom. These days brides are asking for the salary slips of the would-be grooms working in the IT industry as a part of their background check process. Grooms proudly send their salary slips. If you are still wondering, why would people ask about a person’s salary? Let’s just say that it’s a common practice in India and usually people share these details at will.

Anything less than one lakh rupees ($2,150) for a month is not a salary at all. That’s the kind of impression the general population has about IT salaries. I know for sure that this is not true. Very few people take home a salary of one lakh rupees.

In case you are worried about your salary, here’s a rule of thumb. Take your total years of experience and multiple it with a factor of 1.2 to 2. You should get a salary range; if your salary doesn’t fall in the range then you are either underpaid or overpaid. And there could be perfectly valid reasons for this.

A person with a total IT experience of six years should get a salary between 7.2 lakhs and 12 lakh rupees per annum. This is applicable for 80-85 percent of the cases. There are exceptions based on the talent and technology mix. A rare technology expertise could fetch more.

If someone is boasting of a high salary or a ridiculous hike, then put it through the factors above. If they do not match then don’t worry about it. Also with a buoyant job market, the inclination for job hopping is more. Hiring companies are offering 30-40 percent hikes over current salaries which are very tempting. What people should realize is, the salaries should be viewed for a period of 3-5 years. In the grand scheme of things, the 30-40 percent hike offered by a hiring company wouldn’t actually matter and it would be normalized over a period of time. So doesn’t job hop just for the hike and don’t worry too much about the salaries. The other guy isn’t getting more.