For the first time since early 2009, recruitment firm AbsoluteIT has seen a decrease in the median base salary in its regular IT salary report.

The most recent report, which covers the November 2010-August 2011 period, revealed a two percent drop in median salary, from $76,500 to $75,000.

Data for the survey is compiled from 20,000 anonymous entries on AbsoluteIT's itsalaries.co.nz website, where IT staffers enter their details.

AbsoluteIT director Grant Burley says the slight fall in median salary is a result of a dip in demand for IT staff. This is due to several factors, including government department budget cuts and ongoing economic uncertainty.

"Many government agencies have been asked to cut their budgets by 10 percent -- there are significant cuts across the board," Burley says.

However, the two percent decline isn't evenly distributed across all IT skill-sets; in areas that enable organisations to get more value out of existing IT infrastructure without making new investments, there is demand for expertise.

This reflected in demand for software developers, testers and web developers, all of whom recorded increases in median salaries. These skills were also in demand for a few government projects that required extra staff to support the rollout of new systems and services, he says.

Senior and mid-level software developers recorded pay rises, while at lower levels, there was a decline. Web and multimedia design recorded a large increase, 13.6 percent, from $51,500 to $558,500, at mid-level, and a 10 percent rise at lower level, with a smaller increase at senior level. Web and multimedia developers recorded increases at all levels, with a 19 percent jump, from $42,000 to $50,000, at the lower level.

Testers recorded a large rise at the lower level, at 16.5 percent, from $50,000 to $58,200, while median and senior salaries also rose, by lesser amounts.

Other skill-sets that recorded rises were Business Intelligence and CRM consultants, ERP and supply chain consultants, data records management specialists, database developers and hardware engineers.

Decreases in median salary were also recorded for sales executives, account managers, software architects and at junior to mid-level in security and network administration.

The decline in software architecture comes after several years of rising salaries in that area, Burley says, and while the result was initially surprising, "When you look into what software architecture is, it's all about doing something new, and there's a slowdown in that area."

Senior software architects took a median pay cut from $120,000 to $108,250 according to the survey, while at mid-level the decline was from $102,000 to $95,000, and at the lower level, average salaries were down from $98,000 to $87,500.

Enterprise architecture, on the other hand, saw salaries remain steady.

The decline in security and network administration salaries is concentrated in junior to intermediate positions, partly due to advances in security and network management software, which are doing away with some junior roles in those areas, he says.

"Security software is getting better and organisations aren't having to spend as much on headcount.

"We will always need senior security specialists, but with general security administration, part of that function has been replaced by automated software."