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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

May 22, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Washington tech jobs pass 400k, average pay $95k

More than 400,000 people now work in the state tech industry, according to a new study released by the Technology Alliance at its annual luncheon in Seattle.

The trade group found 396,818 people are directly employed in tech jobs, up 15,272 from its 2010 study.

This year it began tallying self-employed tech workers, which brings the total to 434,343 jobs or 13.6 percent of jobs in the state. The industry’s combined payroll is $41 billion, it said in a news release.

Employment counts were based on data from the first half of 2011.

state jobs.jpg

Applying a multiplier to gauge the industry’s broader economic effect, the group’s study concluded that the state’s tech industries support 1.4 million jobs and nearly $86 billion in payroll, or about 45 percent of the state’s employment.

Wages averaged $94,531, compared to $49,829 for other industries, the release said.

The average pay is down significantly from the group’s 2010 report, when tech jobs averaged $110,145 versus the stage average of $57,654.

Companies in the industry had $231 billion in sales last year, 76 percent of which were outside of the state.

Alliance chairman, Jeremy Jaech, said the job growth underscores the need for the state to invest more in educating future tech workers. Through 2018 the industry will add 6,900 jobs per year on average but state schools’ output will lag that demand by 4,400 positions a year, he said.

“We’re not cultivating a sufficiently large home-grown talent pool and this is a bad thing,” said Jaech, a UW alum.

Jaech is stepping down as chairman of the group and being replaced by Cheryl Vedoe, chief executive of Apex Learning. During the group’s luncheon,

Vedoe introduced the group’s annual “Innovation Showcase” company of the year, MobiSante. The manufacturer of cell phone-based medical imaging gear presented its business to a tech alliance showcase in 2010 and received FDA approval for its products in 2011.

The luncheon’s main event is an on-stage conversation between F5 Chief Executive John McAdam and UW professor Ed Lazowska.

They discussed how F5 has evolved beyond its first products for balancing network traffic loads. Its technology was initially developed by UW students, and the name was inspired by the move “Twister” and refers to a “force 5” tornado.

Most people don’t realize how widely F5 equipment is used to manage networks but if you book an airline tickete online, send a text or do social networking, “there’s a high likelihood you’ve been through an F5 product,” McAdam said.

F5 employed 2,800 last quarter and plans to add at least 125 this quarter, he said.

A turning point for the company came in 2002 when it began developing a traffic-management operating system. At the time F5’s revenue of $27 million made it appear to be chasing a small market but sales started to “rocket” after the operating system was released in 2005, McAdam said.

Last October, F5 reported that its annual sales had crossed $1 billion.

The company’s high market capitalization now gives the company the “luxury” of becoming a bigger independent company, though it also raises expectations for the company’s quarterly performance.

“Frankly it’s our biggest defense against an acquisition,” McAdam said.

McAdam agreed with Jaech’s concerns about education and said F5 has to import about 40 percent of its employees into the state.

Here’s a chart that Jaech presented, showing the distribution of tech jobs in the state:

TA2.jpg

Comments | More in | Topics: education, Enterprise, F5

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