Pay for IT troubleshooters has shot up by nearly one-third, while security consultants have seen pay rates soar by 22%, according to research by the Association of Technology Staffing Companies.
Average pay for IT staff has risen 3% in the last six months as the job market remains buoyant, but the increase in complex bespoke IT projects, particularly in the finance and government sectors, has put a premium on troubleshooting skills, with pay rates leaping 32% in a year.
The iProfile survey of 5,000 IT staff published by Atsco shows salaries for permanent troubleshooting staff rise from £30,000 to £44,000 and from £43 to £50 an hour for contractors.
The need to combat threats to data security has also pushed up salaries for security consultants - from £37,000 last year to £45,000 in 2005, while rates for contractors have jumped from £40 to £50 an hour over the same period.
"Bespoke systems in the corporate and government sectors can be hugely ambitious and complex, often introducing untested technologies," said Ann Swain, chief executive of Atsco.
Integration of IT systems after company acquisitions and changes in regulatory requirements would ensure troubleshooting skills remain "in high demand" over the next few years, she added. "Data security is now a boardroom issue and consultants with those skills are wielding ever more influence and commanding larger pay packets."
Employment rates are healthy across the IT sector, with 8% unemployed in the second quarter of 2005 - down from 12% at the end of 2004 and 26% at the beginning of 2003.
Increasing employment has seen pay rises across the sector, but despite the spectacular gains for security and troubleshooting consultants, average rises are far lower, with salaries rising by 3% over the past six months to £35,000. Contract rates have remained stable at £40 an hour.