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IT Workers Find Experience Counts

Survey shows younger IT workers took salary hits last year, while older staffers' checks stayed the same or increased slightly.

Call it the revenge of the middle-aged nerd.

During the dot-com boom of the late '90s, experience didn't seem to count for much. Twentysomethings, with the ink on their diplomas barely dry, captivated IT hiring managers with their newfound New Economy ideas and Internet skills, which were seen as requisites for success. Many pooh-poohed the legacy know-how of veteran IT staffers.

Now the young guns are gettin' their comeuppance, at least in their wallets. As the economy recovers and companies begin to beef up their IT staffs, older IT workers are the ones being rewarded.

According to a study of 21,000 IT professionals by Dice Inc., an online high-tech employment service, IT workers age 30 and under have seen their salaries slip this past year by an average of almost 7%; those under 24 saw their wages slide by nearly 9%. Paychecks issued to IT workers age 40 and over hardly budged between 2001 and 2002, but workers 50 and older actually saw a 1% bump on their pay stubs last year.

Why so? IT managers now are demanding that the people they hire have multiple technical skills to go with their business insight, says Dice CEO Scot Melland. Older workers also are more likely than their younger compatriots to know the technologies that run back-end systems that keep their companies afloat. Says Melland, "Age and experience are back in fashion."

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