DevOps salaries are rising. Here’s where they are growing fastest

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Demand for rapid digitization led to salary increases for DevOps professionals in 2020, with more than a third of US employees now taking home between $150,000 and $250,000 per year.

It’s a good time to work in DevOps.

Image: iStockphoto/ALotOfPeople

DevOps professionals saw their salaries increase last year despite the economic crisis caused by COVID-19, as rapid digitization across industries put tech skills in high demand.

A survey of more than 2,200 DevOps professionals by software company Puppet found that IT and engineering salaries rose across every region in 2020. With the pandemic forcing organizations to bring forward their digital transformation plans by as many as three to four years, DevOps teams are being compensated for their increased workloads, the company said.

SEE: Gartner’s top tech predictions for 2021 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For the first time, professionals working in life sciences, pharmaceuticals and healthcare (LSPH) were the top earners worldwide, with more than 64% of LSPH respondents earning more than $100,000. Behind LSPH was financial services, where 53% of respondents earned this much.

“The pandemic brought into sharp relief the necessity of digital transformation and thereby the value of the skilled practitioners and managers who make that evolution possible,” said Alanna Brown, co-author of the State of DevOps Report.

“We’re seeing higher compensation as a result of the increase in demand for these skills, with the most dramatic rise in salaries for engineers and practitioners working within the life sciences, pharmaceuticals and healthcare industries who, for the first time, are earning more than their counterparts in tech and financial services.”

Japan and the UK saw the biggest increase in DevOps salaries in 2020. In Japan, the number of respondents earning more than $75,000 rose to 69% in 2020, compared to 24% last year. In the UK, 74% of DevOps professionals reported being in the same salary bracket, up from 57% in 2019.

Yet it was workers in the US who took home the biggest pay packets. Eighty-four percent of US reported salaries of $100,000 or more in 2020, compared to 80 percent in 2019. The salary band showing the largest increase was for those earning $150,000 to $250,000, which rose from 29% in 2019 to 35% percent in 2020.

The largest salary group for professionals Europe, UK and Asia Pacific practitioners is $50,000 to $75,000 per year, at 34% and 28%, respectively.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, organizations considered to already be at a high level of DevOps maturity compensated their employees with higher wages than those at a less advanced stage of DevOps evolution.

Among respondents working at highly evolved companies, 80% earn $75,000 per year or more, Puppet found. Among respondents at the least evolved companies, only 57% earn that much.

The report also found that pay differences between highly mature companies and less‑evolved ones benefit managers more than practitioners. Among managers working at ‘Level 3’ (highly evolved) companies, 89% earn $75,000 or more, compared to 59% at Level 1 firms.

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Puppet also found that, while more women are earning mid-range salaries than men, men still earn more of the top salaries.

For example, up to the $75,000 per year salary bracket, men and women earn at similar levels. Yet more men earn $125,000 or more per year, with 28% of male DevOps professionals in this salary bracket compared to 17% of women.

Brown told TechRepublic: “We can conclude that a glass ceiling exists for women in DevOps even as they continue to climb in their careers, and my hope is that this data empowers a change in the industry – both by equipping women with this knowledge and by raising awareness that the ceiling exists.” 

Salaries did not rise in every country either, with Singapore, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand all seeing small declines in the number of professionals earning more than $75,000 per year.

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