B.C.'s high tech boom blasts wages skyward
High tech sector now employs more people than mining, oil and gas and forestry sectors combined
B.C.'s reputation as a big old resource economy is facing some serious competition from a younger upstart.
According to figures released by the provincial government, the high tech sector now employs more people than the mining, oil and gas and forestry sectors combined.
With 92,700 employees and $26 billion (yes, billion) in revenue in 2014, it's already one of the largest tech sectors in Canada, and still growing at 3.3 per cent per year.
And it's not just the size of the industry that is expanding, it's also the average wage. At $1,580 per week, tech workers in B.C. earn well above the Canadian average in the same sector by $240 more per week.
Companies competing for talent
That comes as no surprise to Allison Rutherford, Executive Director of HR Tech Group, which surveyed nearly 16,000 workers in 112 companies to take a snapshot of wages in the sector.
"In 25 years of conducting the B.C. Tech Salary Survey we have not seen such large salary increases," she said in a release.
The wages are being driven up by companies competing for talent, she said, and it's especially noticeable in booming sectors of the tech industry like visual effects and animation.
Film industry leading the way
"The VFX/animation sector is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing industries in the B.C. economy," she says.
At studios run by major film companies such as Sony Pictures Imageworks, Industrial Light & Magic and Technicolor's MPC, specialist lighting artists and VFX artists are averaging $105,000 per year, while senior animators are averaging $93,000.
But rapid growth in the industry has not been without its troubles, and concerns about unpaid overtime have emerged recently.
Meanwhile the more "traditional" software and programming jobs still remain lucrative, Rutherford said.
Software developers with just two to four years of experience are earning an average salary of $75,400, while those with four or more years of experience are bringing home an average of $93,900 per year, up 5.4 per cent from the previous year.