HR Tech Group’s 2021 Tech Salary Survey reveals Tech Sector has Blown Past Compensation Budgets

News September 18, 2021

Posted by Harrison Crerar

HR Tech Group’s 2021 Tech Salary Survey reveals Tech Sector has Blown Past Compensation Budgets Featured Image

VANCOUVER, British Columbia–(BUSINESS WIRE)–According to HR Tech Group’s recently released 2021 Tech Salary Survey, actual salary increases in 2021 have blown past compensation budgets as Western Canadian tech companies increase salaries to attract and retain critical talent in a highly competitive global talent market.

The 2021 survey reports on BC and Alberta tech sector compensation and policy data from 184 companies, including salary data from over 25,000 incumbents across 215 positions.

According to the survey, this year’s median salary increase budget was 3.5%, however the actual applied increases were much higher. From 2020 to 2021, salaries saw a median increase of 4.8%. For common incumbents (the same employees from the same organizations in the same roles) the median salary increase was even higher at 5.4%.

The Information & Communication Technology (ICT) subsector saw the highest increases with a change in median base salary of 6.4%, followed by the Clean Tech subsector at 4.6%.

Hottest Jobs

The following jobs saw the highest percent change in year over year compensation for common incumbents:

  1. Data Scientist – Senior/Lead
  2. Art Director
  3. Technical Customer Support Rep – Entry
  4. Technical Support Engineer
  5. Systems Analyst
  6. Software Tester (Automation) – Intermediate
  7. Network Administrator (PC-based LAN)
  8. Software Developer – Intermediate
  9. Technical Customer Support Rep – Senior/Lead
  10. Game Designer – Senior/Lead

Higher Pay for New Recruits

With demand much higher than supply for many tech roles, companies are under substantial pressure to pay higher salaries to obtain the talent they need. The 2021 data shows many instances where new hires are being paid more than common incumbents for fast moving jobs, driving up market pay for these jobs.

Software Development topped the list of disciplines for which organizations have the most difficulty recruiting, and in 2021 the Software Developer data shows new hires coming in with higher salaries than existing incumbents. This is a notable change since 2020 where new hires were offered salaries lower than incumbents in the same positions. In the 2021 survey, 31% of the incumbents reported as Software Developers were new hires.

Of all the technical jobs where new hires earned more than common incumbents, these jobs topped the list:

  1. Animator – Intermediate New hires 14%+
  2. Hardware/Electrical Engineer Senior/Lead New hires 12%+
  3. Game Designer Senior Lead New hires 9%+
  4. System Architect New hires 7%+

“With Canada’s booming tech sector hitting new venture capital records, we don’t expect the upward pressure on salaries to let up anytime soon,” said Stephanie Hollingshead, Chief Executive Officer for HR Tech Group. “Our survey is showing that the median planned headcount growth for 2021 is 25% and for 2022 it is 20%. This represents substantial hiring for the tech sectors in these two provinces and our members are telling us that salary pressure is particularly high in Vancouver this year.”

Geographic Differentials

The data shows some significant geographic pay differentials between the Greater Vancouver Area and Alberta. While positions in sales, administration, manufacturing, and hardware engineering showed higher salaries in Alberta, software-related positions such as Data Scientists, Software Developers, Systems Analysts and Cloud Ops Engineers / DevOps had significantly higher salaries in the Greater Vancouver area.

Changing Policies for Remote Work

With the COVID-19 pandemic having paved the way for a seismic shift to remote work, companies have been implementing new compensation policies pertaining to remote work.

The majority of organizations (53%) are now covering home/remote office costs for items such as equipment, supplies, furniture and internet. An additional 15% of companies are considering adding this benefit.

For organizations operating in multiple locations across Canada, half indicated they are taking a national approach to salaries and half are differentiating pay based on market rates for specific locations. For the organizations differentiating pay based on location, 48% are basing that on employees’ home locations, and 19% are basing that on the employees’ office locations, with the balance still working to define pay practices for remote workers or choosing to follow a company-specific practice.

The HR Tech Group salary survey for 2022 will be launched in April 2022, and all members of the HR Tech Group will be invited to participate. In addition to collecting data on compensation by job and organization policies and practices, it will also collect data on fields related to diversity and inclusion as part of the Diversity and Inclusion Tech Project.

The HR Tech Group salary survey is conducted by Mercer.

For more details and specific salary figures, purchase a full version of the 2021 Tech Salary Survey online at

About HR Tech Group’s Tech Salary Survey

HR Tech Group, in partnership with Mercer, releases the annual Tech Salary Survey. For more than 20 years this Survey has been the definitive resource for the high-tech sector in BC, and it is quickly becoming a key salary resource for Alberta’s technology sector. Survey submissions were collected during spring 2021 and results were published in August 2021. In 2021, data submissions were received from 184 organizations, reporting salary and incentive data for a total of 25,353 incumbents (individual employees). Learn more about the 2021 Tech Salary Survey here.

About HR Tech Group

HR Tech Group is a non-profit association for HR, People and Culture professionals in Canada’s tech sector. The group produces Western Canada’s leading Tech Salary Survey and provides thought leadership, training, collaboration channels, DE&I resources and tech sector data. Our member community is instrumental to tech industry growth, and is connected through knowledge exchange, strong professional and mentoring networks and the sharing of benchmark data. Our 600 members lead and influence the HR, people and culture practices at over 200 tech companies in all tech sectors, including ICT, VFX and Animation, digital media and gaming, cleantech, wireless, AI and life sciences.

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