A lucky few work for
government agencies or other organizations that have transparent pay scales;
however, the vast majority of people who work in technology have limited
ability to compare salaries to those of co-workers. IT professionals have a
vague idea that certain factors such as their skills, experience, value to the
company and ability to negotiate well (or not) determine how much they get
But most are not aware of
the other factors that impact their annual pay.
A survey conducted by DevOps
tools vendor Puppet is changing that situation just a bit. Based on data
collected from 3,200 technology workers on six continents, the 2017 DevOps
Salary Report takes a deep dive into technology worker pay, comparing salaries in
light of several different factors.
Data from the Puppet report
was used to calculate the average and median pay for technology workers in the
various categories. The survey asked people for their salary range, not an
exact number, so to determine the averages, a midpoint in the range was used.
The range between the highest and the lowest was then evaluated to rank the
factors based on their impact.
are the surprising factors that you would have never imagined?
Based on the data from this
survey, where you live has a bigger impact on your salary than any other
factor. It's not even close.
In this case, when we're
talking about geographic location, we're not talking about the differences
between Silicon Valley and Topeka. We're talking about the differences among
the major global regions.
According to this report,
the average pay for a US technology worker is around $141,725. And the median
salary falls in the $100,000 to $125,000 range. By comparison, the average tech
pay in India is about $50,650, and the median is less than $25,000. In other
words, tech workers in the highest-paying part of the world make $90,000 to
$100,000 more than tech workers in the lowest-paying part of the world.
As you might expect, how
long you've been on the job also has a major impact on your salary. And
although the technology industry has a reputation for favoring younger workers,
people generally earn more the longer they have been on the job. However, pay
increases start to flatten out once you've been working in your field for more
than 15 years.
In this survey, workers with
more than 20 years of experience had an average pay of around $141,700, and the
median pay was in the $100,000 to $125,000 range. At the low end, tech staffers
with less than five years' experience made an average of about $79,725 with the
median falling in the $35,000 to $50,000 range. In other words, experience had
about a $60,000 to $75,000 impact on annual salary.
Most IT workers won't be
surprised to hear that job titles also have a significant impact on salaries.
The Puppet report doesn't provide data for all the possible job titles, but it
does break out a few of the more common ones.
In this case, the lowest-paid
job title was "Systems Administrator." On average, these folks earn
about $115,250 with the median falling between $75,000 and $100,000. By
contrast, people with "Architect" in their job title averaged around
$168,000 with a median between $125,000 and $150,000.
So for this select group of
job titles, your title can make around a $50,000 difference in your yearly pay.
Somewhat surprisingly, the
factor with the fourth largest impact on tech salaries is the number of servers
in use at a given organization. Although bigger companies tend to have more
servers than smaller companies do, the server count actually has a more
significant impact on pay than the headcount does.
In this case, the sharpest
increases in salary occur between companies that have 100 or fewer servers and
up to 2,000 servers. Beyond that, the average salary levels off and even dips
The highest salaries are in
companies with fifty thousand to one hundred thousand servers, where the
average salary is $129,225, and the median falls between $100,000 and $125,000.
The lowest salaries are at organizations with one hundred or fewer servers,
where the average is $102,125 and the median falls between $50,000 and $75,000.
In other words, the number
of servers in an organization affects salaries between $27,000 and $50,000.
Most people assume that
managers earn more than the people they supervise, but within technology, the
difference might not be as great as you expect. In fact, the Puppet report
noted that in Western Europe manager salaries are actually on par with staff
On average, US managers make
$168,300 with a median between $125,000 and $150,000, compared to an average of
$141,725 and a median between $100,000 and $125,000 for all US tech workers.
That means managers make
about $25,000 more than non-managers.
As previously mentioned, the
size of the headcount at an organization also makes a difference on tech
salaries, although that difference is not as significant as the difference
attributable to the number of servers in use at a company.
Very small organizations
with fewer than 20 employees pay the least — $98,450 on average with a median
between $50,000 and $75,000. The number of employees becomes less significant
However, the best-paying
organizations are the largest companies. Organizations with more than ten
thousand employees pay an average of about $122,575 per year with a median
between $75,000 and $100,000.
In other words, the size of
the organization you work for can make about a $25,000 difference in your
Although people sometimes
assume that IT workers in the technology industry get paid the most, that
wasn't true in this survey. In fact, government IT workers had the highest
average, about $127,375, with a median between $75,000 and $100,000. At the low
end were IT workers in the education sector, who bring home an average of about
$109,300 annually with a median between $50,000 and $75,000.
That means the industry
where you work can make an $18,000 to $25,000 difference in your pay.
The survey asked respondents
whether they were part of a group that is under-represented among technology
workers. That category is obviously pretty broad and open to interpretation. It
also might mean different things in different parts of the world.
Despite these caveats, the
findings were still interesting and significant. People who said they were part
of a minority group reported an average salary of $108,300 with a median
between $75,000 and $100,000. Those who said they weren't part of a minority had
an average salary of about $117,150 with a median in the same range.
That means those who are
part of a group that is under-represented in tech might make about $8,850 less
than their peers who are not part of those groups.
Gender makes a very slightly
smaller difference in annual pay than being part of a group that is
under-represented in tech. (This might be because many women consider
themselves part of an under-represented group.)
In this survey, male
technology workers reported average pay of $114,525, while female workers
reported an average of $106,225. Both groups had a median between $75,000 and
$100,000. The difference between the two was about $8,300.
While many people worry that
automation and artificial intelligence will drive them out of a job, this
survey did not find that these technologies are currently having a big impact
on technology salaries.
Across the board, median pay
was in the $75,000 to $100,000 range not matter how automated the workflows.
Workers at companies with fewer than 25% of their processes automated had the
highest average pay: about $118,275. Companies with 25% to 75% of their
processes automated paid the least: about $110,025 on average.
In other words, the level of
automation at your company might make a $2,675 difference in your annual