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U.S. technology salaries rose last year more than they have in a decade, with the average tech professional earning a 5 percent increase, from $81,327 to $85,619, according to an annual salary survey by Dice.

The increase comes at a time when more than two thirds of tech professionals — 64 percent — are confident that they can find a better job. Supporting their notion is the fact that employers are stepping up their efforts to retain staff, using more interesting or challenging assignments, increased compensation and telecommuting options. (Some 19 percent of the survey's respondents changed jobs during 2012.)

Overall U.S. Tech Salaries Annual Change 2012

Indeed, the technology job market remains tight. The sector’s unemployment rate now stands at 3.8 percent, well below the overall economy’s 7.8 percent.

Tech professionals with two years or less experience earned their first year-on-year increase in three years: 8 percent, to $46,315. For those with at least 15 years of experience, there was particularly good news: Their average salaries topped six figures for the first time, growing 4 percent in a year to $103,012.

Schizophrenic Bonuses

Though the year-to-year comparisons for bonuses were slight, they told opposite stories. On the one hand, the average award slipped to $8,636 from $8,769. On the other, slightly more professionals — 33 percent last year compared to 32 percent in 2011 — received a payout.

'Mad Skills, More Money'

Professionals working with Big Data did particularly well. Salaries for those regularly using Hadoop, NoSQL and Mongo DB are all over $100,000. Those whose work is closely associated with the cloud and virtualization are earning, on average, just under $90,000. Average mobile salaries are closer to $80,000.

The survey was conducted online with 15,049 employed technology professionals responding between Sept. 24 and Nov. 16, 2012. Cookies were among the methods used to duplicate responses.