Main image of article Wages Drift Higher for IT Consultants

Techonomics chart for todayWith the national unemployment rate edging down and tech hiring rising -- 2.4 percent year-over-year in February -- full-time IT workers may continue to enjoy a faster rise in their salaries than their consulting counterparts.

Last year, the wages of full-time tech workers rose 5.1 percent to an average annual salary of $83,370, according to this year's Dice salary survey. That was more than twice the rate of growth consultants saw — 2.2 percent — to an average of $103,977.

As the national unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent to 7.8 percent in 2012, employers had no choice but to bump up wages. But just because more people are finding full-time jobs, don't expect to see change so dramatic that contractors' salaries slip down to the level of full-timers'. There's no sign that companies plan to abandon the idea of swapping higher contracting fees for the added expenses of headcount, and many have become quite comfortable with the transfer of their overhead over to the checkbooks of those who can do the work, without expecting health insurance and a 401k.