2018 IT Salary Guide

Cem Baris 04.01.2018

IT salary guides with permanent and contract rates for positions in London and the Home Counties, with AI and machine learning at an all time high.

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Commentary on IT Roles and Remuneration in London for 2018


The technology sector stands alone in a time of such instability as one that thrives regardless of political, social and economic change. While we did not experience the record investment and headcount growth the UK technology sector saw in the pre-Brexit period of 2015-16, the positive effect of that time can still be felt today. To put things in perspective, over the past five years the UK has attracted more Silicon Valley venture capital investment than any other European country, with nearly $3 billion injected into British firms. This is twice that of second placed Sweden’s $1.5bn and substantially more than 3rd placed France $836m and 4th placed Germany $763m for the same period. Since the EU Referendum, Improbable received $500 million from the SoftBank Vision Fund, ARM was acquired by the Japanese arm of SoftBank for $31billion and Twitter paid $150 million for AI firm Magic Pony; all of which are British tech companies. Despite some exciting headlines it is evident that 2017 saw a lack of confidence from employers in this sector resulting in a decrease in hiring activity as we had seen in previous years. It can be shown that Brexit has played a role in this, as little has been done by the UK Government to gain confidence amongst investors in the Tech industry. On this note however, in a recent announcement in November 2017, Theresa May stated the government will be investing an additional £21 million into Tech City UK over the next 4 years. They will also be increasing the Tier 1 (exceptional talent) visa cap from 1,000 up to 2,000 which should provide employers with a more positive sign of some momentum forward in support of one the UK’s fastest growing and most productive segments of the economy. The financial services sector experienced significant changes in 2017 with a number of high profile mergers and acquisitions particularly in the wealth and asset management sector. This will result in a number of change programs to integrate businesses, namely; consolidation, relocation projects, core IT infrastructure, applications, security, data and digital transformation work. An important factor to consider is the impact of regulatory changes such as MiFID II and ring fencing, which is driving many large scale technology change programmes within the financial services sector. The current trend is positive for job seekers already living and working in the UK as Brexit has arguably placed London further down the relocation preference list for international applicants, meaning the supply of experienced talent has been restricted over the past year.  This has created an environment that has enabled an average of 7% growth for permanent salaries and 12% increase on contractor rates.

News by specialist area

Development roles such as Functional Programming was a leading trend in 2017 with various companies from startups levels up to investment banks hiring this talent with particular skills in Python, Haskell, Erlang, Clojure and Scala. Front End development remained in high demand and has evolved with the creation of new frameworks and libraries such as React and Angular. With this, experienced contractor rates and permanent salaries continue to steadily rise throughout the year. There has been a notable increase of permanent workers making the change to contracting which has in turn caused further pressure to ensure the supply of full time staff.  The highest in demand tech skills are HTML5, CSS3, React, Angular2/4, Node, Sketch, OmniGraffle. The importance of UX/UI has many divided in the Front End market by allowing dedicated designers to focus on the seamless UX/UI design which amounts to higher conversion rates for business with zero coding skills required. Java remains the most prominent development language  with a significant increase in vacancy numbers compared to rival .NET and with the recent release of Java 9, 2018 will see companies making the transition to the latest edition. 
Java has become the weapon of choice in the Big Data market, owing to its ability to process high volumes of data and it works in harmony with Scala, Spark and NoSQL databases such as Hadoop. In the Microsoft world, open sourcing .Net with Core is providing exciting changes and is increasing popularity with companies. Azure continues to lead in cloud development and distributed logging systems and messaging queuing such as Kafka or RabbitMQ also showing to be high in demand. Test Driven Development (TDD) is becoming a must have skill with Microservices being the architecture of choice.  Overall demand in .NET is steady in contract positions although there is a shortage of mid-senior level permanent developers across all industries. 

DevOps roles continue to go from strength to strength with a year on year increase of 14% in available jobs on the market. In addition to the startup and consultancy markets, the major enterprise clients such as banks and large retail chains have embraced DevOps and have created more roles in this area than previous years.  Key skills and technologies are automation tools such as Chef & Puppet and cloud experience with Google, Amazon AWS or Microsoft Azure. 

Data, Business Analytics, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning hiring is at an all time high in London, primarily within the healthcare, consulting and financial services industries. Job seekers with a masters degree or PhD in artificial intelligence, deep learning, machine learning or computer science are high in demand for these types of roles. Data engineers, analysts and scientists are required across all facets of the data hiring landscape, with skills in Hadoop, R, Python, SAS, SQL/NoSQL, Scala and Spark specifically in high demand. Spark seems to be the most popular big data processing tool, however Apache's open source stream processing framework Flink is a growing competitor. Traditional Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing tools are still in demand as Big Data tools and techniques are still to be further developed to meet data governance standards, this is also linked to the increased uptake in visualisation tools such as Tableau, Power BI and Qlik. Within the financial services sector analytics is roles are at an all time high, we have seen a notable trend in analytics being utilised within Audit functions, as well as record highs in Compliance focusing on fraud detection and anti money laundering.  Communication skills are increasingly important to companies as these  roles are often the bridge between business stakeholders and technical development teams.

Within Cyber Security, the market continues to develop with a consistent influx of new technologies mixing with the ever present and stalwart tech of old. This has opened the doors to opportunities and developments across a variety of skills and industries, influenced by both political and technology change. The GDPR and Trade Secrets act coming into effect in May and June respectively will have a big impact on data governance, security and transparency and how companies approach these subjects. It is estimated over 80,000 DPO’s (Data Protection Officers) will need to be hired in 2018 which will provide an exciting opportunity for those looking to upskill or change sector. Those working within a compliance, risk, legal, PMO or IT security role currently would be considered the most natural transition.

Application and mobile security will increase as attacks on devices and networks through mobile applications continues. Vulnerabilities within the Google App Store have been uncovered with malicious content being found in a host of seemingly everyday applications. With circa 80% market share of the mobile phone market and Android OS running on Open Source, security developers will be in increasing demand. 

New and rapidly developing strains of malware have been testing the quality of thousands of security systems throughout the year. Examples of large-scale breaches have cluttered news feeds throughout the year; Petya, NotPetya, WannaCry, Bad Rabbit et al. have acted as the much needed catalyst for change to many organisations. Some attacks from 2017 were a resurgence of old style attacks highlighting that corporations adapt their security tactics. With early rumours of malware being developed with AI functionality, the demand for researchers, developers and architects will remain a constant throughout 2018. 

The UK Government believes that an imminent threat of Cyber Terrorism will occur, which is why investments have been made for the National Cyber Security Centre which went operational October 2016.  This year’s budget has promised to invest heavily into technology, specifically for 5G, Artificial Intelligence and Driverless Cars with each of these presenting an opportunity for further development into security. The latter is posing a huge threat to the vanguard companies in the automotive industry, so expect to see an equally large increase in security roles within it.

Qualities and skills in demand

The range of skills within Cyber Security are too numerous to list all together and with the ever-changing security environment is can be difficult to pin down exactly what the market is calling for. In spite of this, there are areas that do remain consistent in the need for skilled permanent and contract employees. GDPR consultants are in hot supply for contract positions as companies gear up for May 2018 with Data Protection Officers in permanent roles increasing alongside their GDPR contracting counterparts. 

Cyber Threat and Cyber Intelligence professionals are in increasing demand as with the rise and variance in destructive technologies on the market, so to do is the rise in threats against them. The malware landscape as outlined above highlights just this, combinations of revamped classic attacks combined with contemporary styles is causing large scale and costly attacks on a variety of industries and verticals. 

The demand for penetration testers across all levels remains a must-have skill for clients of all distinctions. Particular focus has been had on penetration testers who have expanded their skill sets to incorporate developing.

Outside of work

Following on a similar trend from the year before, the learning and development landscape has changed significantly. As there is no singular recognised accreditation or industry body associated with the plethora of the new technologies being utilised in this industry. Whilst some independent organisations and training firms have been established, often the case is that companies have a greater interest in those who have hands on, commercial experience with the latest technologies. Therefore professionals with a breadth of experience in and outside of their current role will put themselves ahead of the competition in the hiring process. In particular, job seekers that attend specialist meetups and are active on community sites such as Stackoverflow and Github tend to be well received by recruiters and hiring managers.


Commentary on IT Roles and Remuneration in the Home Counties for 2018

Cyber security positions are on the rise, as are IT salaries as a whole, but there is a lack of trained workers and competition for candidates is strong.


2017 delivered yet more growth within cyber & information security caused by GDPR and numerous well publicised breaches across major organisations. Leaked copies of Game of Thrones, Petya, WannaCry and Yahoo in December 2016 helped to increase the profile of cyber & information security professionals across the globe and in particular in the UK. As a result, there was a significant increase in the number of SOC roles and 1st through to 3rd LOD roles in the second and third quarter of the year above any other opportunities. 

Positive  & negative news

Cyber & information security professionals should be delighted to hear there is no bad news. With figures on cyber security spend estimated at $1 Trillion by 2021, demand for both cyber & information security professionals is predicted to increase significantly this year. Circa 95% of organisations are now using cloud computing which will require people to create best practice policy, process and procedure. It is estimated that across all cyber security disciplines there is a shortfall of 1 million trained workers in the UK. As overall IT spend and salaries start to increase, companies will look for ways to reduce cost, with the primary casualty often being contractors. On another note, consistently throughout 2017, both end user and consultancies switched focus from hiring contractors on day rates to permanent employees and permanent roles. However, as technology continues to evolve and disrupt organisations, it can be difficult for a job seekers to decide which areas to specialise or develop skills within.

Qualities and skills in demand

Consider the following, firstly that CIO’s are now being replaced with CDO’s particularly within consumer focused organisations looking to digitize and capitalise on IOT technology. Secondly individuals currently in a traditional perimeter security environment should consider moving as the focus is changing and it is just  a matter of time before being breached out. Lastly, Cloud security will grow by at least 12% next year.

Outside of work

As well as having strong technical skills, organisations are increasingly looking for individuals who are commercially focused and can effectively communicate with non-technical personnel. Cyber & information security can be bewildering to non-technical colleagues and so the ability to make the complicated seem simple is priceless. An individual should always work on their communication and presentation skills as well as understanding their business. Employers, should consider that almost 50% of cyber & information security professionals changed roles in 2017 due to salary increases and numerous opportunities being available. Although no employer wants to get into a bidding war, quite often salaries are significantly under market rate or the expectation has been for one individual to fulfil multiple roles. If salary bandings are an issue, consider what else you can offer in terms of flexibility, access to labs in order to fulfil their own R&D or exposure to new technologies.

Notable trends

Diversity continues to be a major focus within cyber & information security, with women only making up 11% of the workforce globally. With only 1% at entry level globally, there are growing concerns that this issue is only going to get worse.

Cem Baris's picture


Service Management Architect - Belfast - £650 - £800 (PAYE/Umbrella)
Incident lead, problem management
Technical support, IT Support, Service Desk