Philippines: Where experience counts

Philippines: Where experience counts

Summary: Country's IT professionals are the lowest paid in the region, but longer work experience can help boost annual salary by as much as 205 percent.

TOPICS: IT Employment

IT professionals in the Philippines may be the lowest paid and least certified, but those with the right amount of talent are still in hot demand.

According to research house IDC, almost 70 percent of companies in the country anticipate an increase in IT spending this year. Expenditure in IT and telecoms products and services are expected to increase by more than 10 percent, while hardware is forecast to top the shopping list of most of the companies IDC polled in the Philippines.

The forecast increase in IT spending should also spell good news for IT professionals in the country.

In a survey conducted last year, ZDNet Asia polled some 401 respondents in the Philippines, and discovered that executives with more extensive work experience pulled in fatter paychecks.

Respondents with more than 10 years of experience earned 993,454 peso (US$19,879) a year, 85 percent higher than the overall country average of 536,241 peso (US$10,730). They also earned 205.8 percent more than the 324,814 peso (US$6,500) annual income for respondents with fewer than five years' experience in the workforce. IT workers with between five and 10 years of work experience had an annual income of 491,534 peso (US$9,836).

However, IT professionals in the Philippines were the lowest paid in the region, compared to their counterparts in Hong Kong who earned HK$404,144 (US$51,964) a year--the highest overall average in the region.

At 26 percent, the Philippines also had the lowest proportion of IT professionals who held at least one professional certification. In comparison, 34 percent of respondents in Indonesia held at least one professional certification--the second lowest proportion in the region.

No single IT vendor dominated the top five certifications, although 21 percent of respondents had Microsoft Certified Professional, followed by Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2 (18.1 percent) and Cisco Certified Network Associate (11.4 percent).

IT professionals in larger companies in the Philippines, with at least 1,000 employees, were also paid 9 percent above the country average, pulling in an annual salary of 583,640 peso (US$11,679).

IT giant IBM, for instance, is looking to increase its headcount in the Philippines, where it has had a presence for 70 years.

According to Anna Roqueza, country HR manager for IBM Philippines, the company is expanding across various jobs functions including IT sales and distribution in the areas of solutions, services, business process outsourcing (BPO) and business transformation outsourcing (BTO). "This has brought about our company's robust grow not only in the number of employees [IBM plans to hire], but also in the areas of expertise our [current employees] have," Roqueza said.

"With BTO and BPO among the key drivers of this growth, what were previously considered administrative functions are now part of IBM's frontline business [including] finance and accounting, HR, tech support and customer service," she said.

Roqueza noted that the Philippines market is not lacking in the right people with the right skill sets, and it is the increasingly competitive war for talent among companies--especially in the BPO and BTO segments--that is proving to be a challenge.

"Employable candidates have many attractive options from within and outside the country, so we at IBM continue to strengthen our holistic HR programs to attract, retain and develop the best talents in the various industries where we intend to grow our business," she said.

According to the IT employment survey, 63 percent of respondents had expertise in application development, while 56.9 percent had relevant skills in desktops and software. In comparison, less than 20 percent had expertise in storage, telecommunications/wireless/mobile, and data center and infrastructure management.

Respondents in IT management roles were the highest paid in the Philippines, with an average annual salary of 975,722 peso (US$19,524) which is 82 percent higher than the overall country average. IT professionals with expertise in project development were the second highest paid, pulling in an average annual income of 607,926 peso (US$12,165).

To attract the best talent, IBM works with the country's leading colleges and universities to get "first pick" of potential candidates across various areas such as engineering, business, computer science and accountancy, Roqueza said.

IBM looks for candidates with good communications skills, adaptability, "breakthrough thinking", the passion to achieve, ability to lead as well as to collaborate with others in a team, she said. "And of course, [the candidates should] have firm subject matter knowledge and technical expertise," she added.

Key findings of ZDNet Asia's IT Salary Benchmark 2006 Survey
ZDNet Asia conducted a survey on the Internet between Aug. 25 and Nov. 6, 2006, to gain insights into Asia's IT workforce and salary trends. The survey drew 5,090 respondents from industry sectors such as government, healthcare, IT, services, telecommunications, legal and finance, across seven Asian countries: Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Spotlight: Philippines
The survey drew 401 respondents across several IT positions, which are broadly categorized into IT management, project development and systems development.


Average annual IT salary in Philippines

Job function Average Annual Salary
IT Management
Project development
Systems development
Other IT Professionals
Years of experience  
Less than 5 years
5 to 10 years 491,534
More than 10 years
Overall 536,241
By industry  
IT, Web, telecom
Government, education, healthcare 456,000
Legal and finance
Media, marketing, sales 402,911
Mfg, services, others
Overall 536,241
Type of Experience

Technology skills % of Respondents
Application Development
Operating Systems
Servers/Networking 44
Database Management
Web Development 42
System Administration
Enterprise Applications
IT Outsourcing
IT Security
Quality Assurance Testing
Web Services
Infrastructure Management
Data Center

Top 5 Certifications
(26% of respondents hold at least one certification)

Certification name % of Respondents with at least 1 certification
1. Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)
2. Sun Certified Programmer for Java 2
3. Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
4. IBM certification 9.5
5. Dell certification
See charts

Topic: IT Employment


Eileen Yu began covering the IT industry when Asynchronous Transfer Mode was still hip and e-commerce was the new buzzword. Currently a freelance blogger and content specialist based in Singapore, she has over 16 years of industry experience with various publications including ZDNet, IDG, and Singapore Press Holdings.

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  • The certification fees are very expensive and most IT professionals could not afford to get certified given their low income.

    Some IT consultants also have a tendency to "dive" down and accept very low rates thus bringing down the average salary.
  • stop corruption...and put our taxes to the right hands....damn u politicians!
  • where is your service center here in metro manila philippines
  • Most of the politicians are corrupt.
    1. they never implement the Law of nation they implement there pocket.
    2. Most of the Foriegn Investow wont invest because of the revolutionay tax, corruption and slow response of the action in case of problem.
    3.the Politician never think of the capacity of the people.
    4. Most of the professional wont work in the low salary it is much better to go to other country than to stay in the nation who's salary is not enough for the single person.
    5. Damn Politician!and pork barrels!!!!!
  • is the cost of stardard living per country taken to account with regards to the survey?
  • These findings are based on the responses of readers who participated in ZDNet Asia's IT Salary 2006 Survey. The online survey was conducted last year between Aug. 25 and Nov 6.
  • Before you curse the politicians, can you really claim that you're honest? Do you really pay the right taxes? Do you really declare your real income in your residence certificate? I very much doubt it. ;-)
  • Experience, or scarcity due to timing?

    10 years ago, the number of CS/IT majors was much smaller than they were 5 years ago.

    5 years later, the supply of IT majors in our batch will still be relatively large, so we would still have to compete with a lot of software developers (including Chinese/Indian) on the bandwagon.

    So I think it is not only experience per se, but the scarcity of 10 year IT professionals that is driving salaries up.
    The lesson is to look for skills that will be in demand 5 years from now, and get busy building them, ahead of everyone else.
  • We are underpaid. Or salary is equivalent with security guards and janitors. I am working on the 24/7 Call Center IT.
  • added to that is that discrimination of schools where professionals originated... this "curse" really sucks for those who graduated from public/state universities... the government should make proper actions regarding to these issues
  • Your article is well-written and, sadly, dead on.

    That is the main driver why Philippine IT professionals will always have expat employment in the back of their minds.

    And it also doesn't help at all if the Philippine professional measures up better than their counterparts elsewhere in the globe. Even in situations where MNCs would they have a local office-- Juan dela Cruz will always get a lower salary.

    Its such a sorry, sorry situation.
  • revolution

    the problem is government system!!!!

  • Certification

    I am a Technical Designer and an Analyst Programmer for Java Applications and had been reviewing to become a Sun Certified Java Programmer, better late than never.

    I have observed that the type of exam Sun Microsystems offer for their certification programs is mostly impractical and somewhat contrary to actual programming practices. That is one of the many possible reasons why some Filipino IT professionals tend not to take certification exams.

    I know a colleague who has acquired certification as a Web Component Developer (SCWCD) but has a hard time programming the famous Diamond Problem using *-asterisks. I just hope Sun Micro will revise their exams in a way that examinees will be the one to make the code instead of making their brains function as a compiler (what is the output for bla bla bla?). A programmer is not a compiler and a compiler is a tool of a programmer. What the heck, I'll still be taking the exams anyway, for formality sake.
  • Curse the politicians

    HELLO!!!! You obviously didn't have the experience of working in a company to say something like that. Taxes are automatically deducted from the salary every month or every time you receive salary. Most of the complains are the employees, while there are lots of employers who cheat their employees even with SSS or PAGIBIG Fund who didn't actually pay but cut the salary.