A new report on the technology industry ranks Iowa 31st in the nation for total employment and 40th in average annual wage.
The average annual wage for Iowa tech employees is $73,500, 73 percent higher than the average private sector annual wage of $42,400, according to Computing Technology Industry Association’s Cyberstates 2016 report.
The tech industry employs 46,724 Iowa residents at more than 4,100 businesses with a combined annual payroll of $3.4 billion. CompTIA, an Illinois-based non-profit trade association, estimates that the tech sector directly contributes to 4 percent of Iowa’s economy.
Software developers accounted for 7,700 Iowa tech employees in 2015, up 3.1 percent from 2014, followed by 5,500 computer systems analysts in 2015, up 4.5 percent from the previous year.
Brian Waller, president of the Technology Association of Iowa, was not surprised by the CompTIA report.
“What stands out is these are great paying jobs, well above common private sector jobs and salaries,” Waller said. “There are a lot of employment opportunities in this industry. We need to do a better job in the state of Iowa to develop the talent for these jobs.”
Waller said technology careers need to be demystified.
“I don’t think young people understand the opportunities that are available in Iowa,” he said. “We need young people in grade school, middle school and high school to be creative of technology, not just consumers of technology.
“That is a real paradigm shift, but it needs to happen.”
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Waller said many tech positions are middle-skilled careers that do not require a four-year college degree.
“You can earn a two-year degree to become a help desk manager or a network administrator in a company,” he said. “There are a lot of kids coming out of high school who can handle a two-year degree and have a good career in technology.”
Iowa’s average tech wage of $73,500 is substantially below the average $149,000 CompTIA reported for tech employment in California. Waller said Iowa’s annual average wage is more in keeping with the state’s cost of living.
“I think we have a great value proposition,” he said. “We need to just keep beating the drum.”