CIO salary: 10 notable stats and trends

CIO salary: 10 notable stats and trends

What does that CIO make? If you're a current or aspiring CIO, consider these CIO salary statistics and trends

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March 16, 2018

People aspiring to win the role of CIO are passionate about the impact of technology on the future of business and our lives. They are eager to put their technology chops and business acumen to work setting their company’s digital agenda, overcoming legacy technical debt, and generating competitive advantage.

The fact that the role comes with C-level compensation and perks is just icing on the cake, right?

Fortunately, the icing is pretty sweet. CIOs are well compensated for the key role they play in the digital business. There are, however, some caveats to earning potential – like where you live, your experience level, and how much you are actually able to accomplish in your role. Let's delve into 10 key CIO salary stats and trends:

$121,780: Average CIO Salary: That estimate is according to Indeed.com, based on 4,151 employees, Indeed.com users, and past and present job advertisements on Indeed in the past 36 months.

$157,934: Glassdoor reports a slightly higher reported average CIO salary, at $157,934. Their estimates are based on 274 salaries submitted anonymously to the site.

$146,000: Average VP of IT salary: Falling right in the middle of these two figures is the average salary for VPs of IT, according to PayScale.

[ Successful CIOs know the value of soft skills. See our related article: Top soft skills for IT leaders and how to master them. ]

20 years of experience pays off: These average salaries reflect a wide range, and experience level plays a big role in a CIO’s salary. A CIO with 20 years or more of experience can expect to earn $64,000 more annually than an entry-level CIO, according to PayScale. Of course, top Fortune 500 CIOs experience a much bigger gain - more on that in a minute.

$220,000: Average CIO Salary in L.A.: Not surprisingly, location has a big impact on CIO salary, as well. Monster.com’s Sarah White reports, “The highest paid CIOs are in Los Angeles, CA where the average yearly salary is $220,000. Minneapolis, Boston, and Seattle come in next with average yearly salaries of $207,000, $199,000, and $198,000, respectively.”

-$23,440: On the other hand, CIOs in Cleveland earn $23,440 below the national average – and represent the lowest-paying market for the title, according to PayScale.

$1 million to $10 million in extras: Salaries are just the beginning, as CIO.com points out in its comparison of 25 Fortune 500 CIO pay packages. Bonuses, stock awards, and other perks must be included to paint a more accurate picture of CIO compensation.

$9,712,796: The top earner on CIO.com's Fortune 500 CIO salary comparison was Rajat Taneja of Visa, with a total annual compensation of $9,712,796. According to CIO.com, “Like many of the top earners on this list, his role at Visa, where he’s worked since 2013, straddles the traditional line between CIO and CTO, with both outward-facing duties like product engineering and internal ones like taking global IT and operations infrastructure in hand.”

37 percent salary increase in past two years: In an analysis for the Wall Street Journal, Korn/Ferry International reports that compensation for Fortune 500 CIOs has increased 37 percent in the last two years, jumping from $1.9 million in 2015 to $2.6 million by late 2017.

That’s an impressive gain, considering the compensation for IT salaries and jobs overall grew just three percent on average in 2017, according to Computerworld.

This raise comes with strings attached, however.

68 percent of CIO compensation is "at-risk": The same report from WSJ and Korn/Ferry reveals that 68 percent of these CIOs' compensation is at-risk, meaning it’s directly tied to their ability to achieve corporate and technology goals. With increasing demand for digital change coming from the CEO, simply having a vision is not enough: CIOs must achieve meaningful results – or miss out on financial reward.

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Carla Rudder is a writer and content manager on The Enterprisers Project.

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