IN TECH OUTSOURCING CIRCLES, BRAZIL HAS A REPUTATION as a place where businesses have to dig deep into their wallets to pay the cost of labor. If your plan is to start producing or outsourcing from Brazil, be ready now to reach deeper than you would have a year ago. Even though the country has plenty of opportunities and a domestic market that is growing at amazing speed, costs of IT labor tend to be quite different from those in other Latin American countries.
Due to the high demand for information technology workers, salaries in the sector have risen about 20% in the past year, according to a research guide from the recruiting agency Robert Half.
For Maria Paula Menezes, manager of the IT division at Robert Half, professionals who have good technical knowledge but who also are able to manage business situations are among the most valuable in the market today. A programmer who understands marketing or has that kind of customer-facing experience, for example, would probably be snatched up quickly — for the right price.
“The professional who mixes technical excellence with negotiation and communication skills is very much in demand,” she says. “They are among those who had the biggest gains in terms of salaries in the past year because they are the ones most capable of integrating the IT and the business divisions in a company,” Menezes told Sourcing Brazil.
And how much would it cost to have someone with that profile working for you? Well, the salary for a business analyst at entry level, or with less than two years of experience, has risen from R$5,000 (US$ 3,225) monthly last year to R$6,500 (US$ 4,193) nowadays.
The titles that earn the most, besides those of management (like IT director), and that are strategic for a company operating in the country, are infrastructure and telecommunications coordinator, close to R$30,000 (US$19,354) a month if the professional has more than 10 years of experience, and application and development coordinator, who can earn about R$ 28,000 (US$ 18,064) a month.
Another professional hard to find and expensive to pay for in Brazil is the ERP specialist, particularly one with knowledge of SAP systems. This demand is heavy, Menezes says, because so many companies are integrating different divisions into the core operation. “In this case, the raise in salary also happens due to the lack of qualified and experienced professionals, especially because many of them chose to work as contractors.”
Professionals with good communication skills and knowledge of English end up taking the higher positions in IT companies in Brazil, she says. Being fluent in English is a plus considering all the international companies coming to the country nowadays, she says.
Web analysts and programmers remain in high demand in Brazil, as Antônio Loureiro of HR firm Conquest One told us in an earlier interview. “Professionals specializing in Java or SAP, for example, are in short supply everywhere. But here in Brazil, besides lacking people with those skills, we have a considerable deficit of information designers, programmers, IT architects, and analysts,” Loureiro said. Also, staffers with Microsoft, Oracle, and Peoplesoft experience are needed.
It is not clear yet what effect the fledgling Plano Brasil Maior will have on the cost of labor for buyers of IT services, but it is expected that lowering certain payroll taxes will benefit employers in the IT industry. Theoretically, this could end up lowering the costs passed along to outsourcing customers.
Hey, Don’t Forget Chile
And while Brazil has the reputation of being the most expensive country in Latin America when it comes to IT labor costs, that reputation is not always deserved. Nearshore Americas did acomparison of IT salaries across the region last year and found that Chile IT workers are paid about the same as their Brazilian counterparts. An analyst in Brazil brings home an annual base salary of about $37,000, basically the same as in Chile. The Chilean worker, though, scores about $4,000 more in “total cash target.” That article concluded that Argentina offers “the best bargain in IT talent.”
Meanwhile, at the top of the IT pyramid, just for comparison’s sake, the global average salary for a CIO is about $198,031, according to the latest Harvey Nash CIO Survey. But that doesn’t mean they’re happy. “Over a quarter of global CIOs (28 percent) now report being dissatisfied with their remuneration,” the survey’s analysts report.