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October 19, 2004

2004 SAGE Annual Salary Survey Indicates Job Market for System Administrators Shows Healthy Recovery

Boost in Salaries for System Administrators, with 74.6% Receiving Pay Hikes Averaging 8.18%

Berkeley, California — System administration pay scales and employment levels are holding their own, according to the 2004 Annual Salary Survey conducted by the System Administrators Guild (SAGE), a special interest group of USENIX, the Advanced Computing Systems Association.

Over 90% of system administrators were steadily employed throughout the year. Of those respondents employed more than six months during 2003, approximately one in nine (10.9%) was unemployed for at least a week. The majority of system administrators received salary increases with almost three-quarters of those responding reporting pay hikes.

SAGE, an international membership society organized to advance the status of computer system administration as a profession, received over 4,000 responses to its annual salary survey, which included an unemployment survey for those who were out of work for more than half the year.

"All in all, the job outlook for system administration appears to be robust," said Rob Kolstad, SAGE Executive Director. "However, in the comments section, the same complaints about misunderstood job functions continue to appear year after year. SAGE continues its resolve toward improving the understanding of the critical role system administrators play in business success."

There was positive news regarding pay raises with 74.6% of the system administrators polled receiving salary increases during 2003. The average increase was 8.18%; the median was 6.06%. 15.4% received a 0–0.99% increase, while 10.8% earned less in 2003 than 2002. Respondents cited a variety of reasons for salary increases. Those items checked by 5% or more of the respondents (each of whom could check as many as three reasons) included performance, goal achievement, standard raises/cost-of-living adjustments, increased responsibilities, hard work, system stability, and high-profile projects.

This year's survey queried respondents on certification requirements, specifically asking, "Do you think certifications are a good thing for the profession in general?" Almost 70% of the respondents thought that certifications have at least a somewhat positive impact.

About SAGE
SAGE, The System Administrators Guild, is an international membership society and a special interest group of the USENIX Association. It is organized to advance the status of computer system administration as a profession; establish standards of professional excellence and recognize those who attain them; develop guidelines for improving the technical and managerial capabilities of members of the profession; and promote activities that advance the state of the art or the community. For more information about SAGE, visit

USENIX is the Advanced Computing Systems Association. For over 25 years, it has been the leading community for engineers, system administrators, scientists, and technicians working on the cutting edge of the computing world. USENIX conferences are the essential meeting grounds for the presentation and discussion of technical advances in all aspects of computing systems. For more information about the USENIX Association, visit

USENIX Media Contact:
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