Tis the season for
breaking resolutions, so it strikes us as fitting that it's also that time for the Information Architecture Institute's (IAI) annual salary survey results.
If you recall, last year's survey revealed a minimal decrease in the pay gap between men and women and a slight increase of female info architects in the biz.
The annual survey collects data about salary as well as age, gender, educational level, job title, annual increase, hours worked, job tasks, vacation, holidays and benefits, attrition, size of company, and geographic area.
This year, despite an economic downturn, mean salaries are up US$ 10,800 from last year to US$ 96,800. Among the 414 respondents, 50.8% were women and 49.2 were men. Women also continued their slight lead in salary over men, with an average salary of US$ 97,500 for females and US$ 96,200 for males.
30.4% of respondents indicated that the phrase "Information Architect" best represents their current position. Of these, 14.0% had some variation of "lead" or "chief" qualifying the "Information Architect" label. Other significant positions are User Experience Designer (26.3%), Interaction Designer (16.7%).
Respondents were less likely to use the term "Usability" or "Usability Engineer" to describe their positions (2.6% versus 5.0% in 2008). Only 1.7% refer to themselves as Web Designer/Developer or Webmaster -- these are clearly terms which are now passe.
Tasks: Strategic, Tactical and Interaction Design
As for tasks performed, the survey results indicate that 93.0% perform some type of strategic information architecture tasks (business models, high-level categorization, scenario development, life cycle assessment) while only 62.1% perform tactical information architecture tasks (thesauri, metadata, controlled vocabularies, etc.). Overall, 15.5% of respondents spend more than 50% of their time on info architecture tasks.
Another significant task group is Interaction Design (IxD) representing 91.5% of respondents, up from 75.8% in 2007. Again, IxD appears to be a clear specialty with 22.6% of respondents spending more than 50% of their day on these tasks.
Other commonly cited tasks include user research (88.3%), usability testing (84.1%) and project management (74.7%). Very few specific tasks make up more than 50% of anyone's working day. Only about half have content management or content generation tasks, representing less than a quarter of the working day.
Attrition and Experience
41% of respondents have spent less than a year in their current job, the same rate as last year. 36.6% have stayed on 1-3 years and 9.5% have spent over 5 years at the same job, compared with 17.5% in 2007.
Time spent in their current job doesn't mean that they are new to the field. Years of information architecture experience appears to be increasing with 16.9% having over 10 years experience, compared to 14.9% last year. The next largest experience group was those with 1-2 years experience at 11.9% of respondents. The smallest group was those with less than a year of experience at 5.0%.
What This Means for You
While the survey doesn't specifically infer anything, it's safe to assume that with slight increases in salary and experience, as well as an expanded list of tasks associated within the industry, information architecture seems to be stable, despite our unstable economy.
A sigh of relief is in order, as well as an increased sense of purpose, which these days is almost as important. And if you're still calling yourself a web designer, well, we counsel you to upgrade youself to interaction design. Good luck in 2009!