Web developers have enjoyed a surge in salaries over the past year as companies vie for their skills as a result of the boom in internet activity.
They are once again one of the most sought-after IT professionals after the sudden boom in the popularity of sites such as MySpace and YouTube, as well as the increasing popularity of internet retailing and advertising. Rising broadband speeds and the emergence of multimedia applications such as blogs and podcasts has also fuelled demand for their skills.
A survey by SkillsMarket and the Association of Technology Staffing companies found the average pay of a top web developer has increased by nearly a quarter over the past year. Wages are expected to continue rising over the next year as a result of a shortage of skills in the sector.
Ann Swain, chief executive of ATSCo, said: "Web developers are back among the IT elite. The increase in online multimedia applications, such as podcasts, and the growth of advertising on next generation websites, is generating strong demand for their skills. We are facing a skills crisis similar to the late 90s."
Web development was one of the most attractive careers to pursue in the late 1990s when the first technology boom was in full swing as companies offered lucrative pay packages to swipe staff from key rivals.
Yet the collapse of the dot.com bubble and the trend to outsource basic web development to eastern Europe and India quelled demand for developers and put pressure on salaries. Between 2003 and 2005, the number of UK undergraduates studying computer science plummeted by 16 per cent as students pursued other careers.
Alex Charles, product director at SkillsMarket, said: "Companies are being forced to offer large incentives to get people onboard because with so few skilled IT graduates entering the marketplace, poaching from rivals is becoming a necessity."
Booming sales over the internet have also driven wages higher as retailers clamour to improve e-commerce functions.Reuse content