One of the topics I have been having with people this week delves with the salaries of IT people, both Vietnamese and Expats, here in Vietnam. You get a lot of figures thrown out at you. It is hard to believe many times. Headhunter and HR companies always over inflate salaries of IT positions for obvious reasons so I never believe their figures.
In the past, I have offered monthly salaries of roughly $150-233 US per month to beginning Vietnamese IT staff (it did not matter if they were a developer, network administrator, etc.). I actually felt this salary was too low but I was limited by the accountant on what I could offer my IT staff. It is just not enough to make a living these days here in Saigon and offering this low of a salary normally means that your IT guy will leave your company at the first chance.
For me, I think the fair market price for Vietnamese IT guys is around $333-500 US per month depending on experience. You can keep this IT guy for at least 2-3 years but you will need to raise it to $750 US per month after the 3rd year just to keep them. Double that number after 7-8 years and top them out at $2000 US after 10 years as they become middle managers. I have met many Vietnamese IT managers at the $2000 US per month range working for various Western companies. The highest paid Vietnamese IT Manager that I heard of receives about $4000 US per month. Some claim higher but it turned out they were over exaggerating their salaries.
For Expats, the fair market value should be around $1166-1750 US per month for many different IT positions with slight yearly raises. They may top out at about $2000 US per month but if you really want to earn a higher salary, you need to be come an IT Manager.
Expat IT Managers usually start around $1500 US per month. IT Directors can earn about $2000-3000 US per month with housing, medical/dental, and round trip ticket. In the past, there were Expat IT Directors/CTOs earning around $10,000 US per month with great packages but those days are long gone. If you can get $4000-6000 US per month, you are lucky but these positions will be made redundant since companies will begin to cut costs. Vietnamese IT Directors/CTOs will begin to replace Expat IT Directors/CTOs in 2-3 years time, especially in the private sectors. I was a consultant for a company that decided to hire a Vietnamese IT Manager over an Expat IT Manager.
From my experience here, I do not expect the salaries to get any higher. Quite the opposite will happen in Vietnam.
If you are an IT consultant, though, that is another story. There is a lot of money in consulting even today. Ever wonder why many Vietnamese IT guys quit their jobs or moonlight with their own personal IT consulting firms? Instead of earning $500 per month, they can earn 3-4 times that consulting. Even higher for Expats. Hourly consulting rates for some web developers are running around $50 US. Some guys can earn $5000 US for each IT project.
There is still money to earn in the IT sector in Vietnam. You just got to choose which way you want to earn it.