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Annual Salary Guides Project Trends for 2010

Pay in the accounting and finance fields will increase slightly in the coming year, while pay in the administrative and information-technology fields will decrease slightly, according to the Robert Half organization's 2010 Salary Guides.

The Salary Guides are a series of documents published annually by Robert Half International's Office Team.

Robert Hosking, Office Team’s executive director, says the fastest-growing industries for the New England region (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont) are healthcare, financial services and technology.

In the mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania), healthcare, energy and technology are the leading fields, while in the South Atlantic region (Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia), healthcare, government and manufacturing are the fastest-growing industries.

While certain industries are realizing a steady growth, specific companies are continuing their focus on cost-control measures “to shape the hiring landscape next year, and starting salaries clearly are being influenced by that trend,” says Max Messmer, Robert Half International's chairman and CEO. "At the same time,” he said, “companies recognize the need to invest in staff members with specific expertise who can help them capitalize on emerging opportunities.”

The accounting and finance field has the most potential, although slight (an average of 0.5%), for salary increases in the coming year. According to the 2010 Salary Guides, businesses are on the lookout for professionals who can help manage costs and enhance profitability. The positions with the best prospects are tax accountant, with an average national starting salary range of $46,500 to $61,500; compliance director, $83,750 to $108,500; credit managers/supervisors, $42,500 to $57,500; and senior financial analyst, $57,750 to $74,000.

Hosking, the executive director, says hiring managers should always be prepared for candidates with in-demand skills and experience to negotiate competitive salaries. He added that current employees should build a case to show managers why they should receive a raise. “Describe your in-demand skills and highlight the value you provide the organization,” Hosking says. “Whenever possible, quantify your achievements and discuss how you’ve saved the company time, resources or money.

The administrative and office-support fields will see the largest projected decrease in salaries, with an average of 2.2% in 2010. But positions in these fields with the best prospects include medical-records clerk, with an expected starting salary of $23,750 to $31,500; customer-service representative, $22,750 to $30,750; and executive assistant, $35,000 to $47,000. Although the position requires handling of highly sensitive material, the medical-records clerk is among the lowest-paid in the administrative and office-support fields. While in demand, Hosking says, the clerks are seeing only modest gains because of the weak economy and a larger pool of available candidates. “As more healthcare facilities seek experienced clerks to assist with their transition to electronic medical records, and fewer skilled candidates are available, we anticipate the salary range will continue to rise,” he says.

Salaries in the final field, information technology, are forecast to decrease by a national average of 1.3%. Sought-after employees have the ability to tie IT initiatives to larger business objectives, helping their firms become more efficient and reduce costs, according to the 2010 Salary Guides. The best prospects are network administrator, with a starting range of $54,500 to $80,250; information-systems security manager, $96,500 to $130,750; and systems engineer, $64,250 to $93,250.

Once hiring managers retain qualified employees, companies should do all they can to ensure that such employees make long-term commitments, Hosking says. Promoting from within helps motivate valued team members and encourages loyalty to the firm, he says. Providing professional development and offering competitive salaries also helps retain top-notch staffers. Another tip from Hosking is to make employees feel valued. “Two of the most effective acknowledgements of outstanding performance - a sincere thank-you and praise in a public setting - do not cost anything, but go a long way to making people feel appreciated,” he says.

Since 1950, companies have consulted the annual guides from Robert Half to help determine appropriate compensation for their employees.

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