IT salaries jumped by an average 4.3 percent over the last year, outstripping the 2.3 percent rise for all UK jobs, according to business and technology recruitment firm ReThink.

ReThink says the average wage for staff working in IT was £40,140 in 2011, up from £38,500 in 2010. The figures are based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

However, with retail price index (RPI) inflation averaging 5.2 percent in 2011, the figures actually equate to a decrease in real earnings in IT of around £360.

But recent research from ReThink’s annual IT directors survey has shown that pay prospects for IT staff over the next 12 months are at their highest level for years, with 59 percent of IT directors expecting pay to rise within their departments over the next year. The survey found that 54 percent of IT directors polled had increased pay for staff in 2011.

Michael Bennett, director at ReThink, said: "Salaries for many IT staff have actually fallen in real terms over the last year. However when compared with the average UK worker IT staff salaries are still ahead of the game.”

ReThink says longer term pay increases for IT staff have also outpaced pay rises for the average UK worker. It says the national average wage has increased by 13.7 percent over the last five years, from £21,160 in 2006 to £24,050 in 2011. Over the same period average IT pay increased by 16.3 percent, from £34,500 in 2006 to £40,140 in 2011.

Bennett said: “IT directors are finding it increasingly difficult to retain and motivate staff with years of back-to-back pay freezes. Whilst recent pay awards may have been fairly paltry, there are signs that IT directors now feel that the worst of the downturn is behind them and pay growth will really start to accelerate.”

ReThink says pay for IT staff within some sectors, such as retail and some areas within financial services, has "rocketed" over the last year.

Staff working on mobile commerce IT platforms, which ensure that retailers’ apps for iPads, other tablets and smartphones are optimised, are paid 20 percent more than contemporaries with comparable skills and experience working in ecommerce, said ReThink. Typical pay for an mCommerce project manager is £600 per day.

Solvency II modelling skills - which help enable financial firms to meet the needs of the Solvency II EU directive - are leading to specialists being paid over £150,000 a year, or £1,000 a day, said ReThink.

Vacancy numbers in IT are helping to drive "modest" growth in the jobs market, according to the latest monthly Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG Report on Jobs.

The report, based on data collected from recruitment agencies, says staff placements increased in April, continuing the trend seen since the start of 2012.