Philippines: Where experience counts

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.

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


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