Future of Work

O’Reilly Media has released its 2018 Annual IT/Ops Salary Survey. Began in 2017, the survey aims to share insight into the state of the global DevOps industry, and help professionals create a basis for salary discussions.

The 2018 survey has shown that the global median pay for DevOps professionals currently stands at $90K a year. This is down slightly on last year – when average pay was $100K – likely owing to a substantially larger sample size with more respondents from countries where incomes tend to be lower.

The survey also revealed the most popular programming languages used by DevOps professionals. Scripting languages were the most likely to be used, with Bash being the most popular among 66 percent of professionals. Python (63 percent) and JavaScript (42 percent) were the next most popular, though Ruby has declined considerably in use, down from 35 percent in 2017 to only 20 percent this year.

The vast majority of respondents were male, with only 4 percent of responses coming from female DevOps professionals. Similar to other technology-focused industries, this indicates a considerable gender imbalance in the sector.

Factors determining salary: the more you code the less you earn; Python pays

While geographical location has a strong influence on how much you can earn, the survey showed that there are many factors that determine how much a DevOps professional can make. Unsurprisingly, salaries increase with age and seniority – someone with over 20 years’ experience can earn a median income of $123K.

However, other factors including company size, industry and time spent in meetings can have a strong pull on earnings. The larger the company you work for the more you are likely to be paid. The median salary for companies employing two-to-100 is just over $78K, compared to $114K in organisations of more than 10,000 employees.

DevOps professionals can also earn more in certain industries. Healthcare pays the best with a median income of $113K. Professionals who work in education tend to earn the least with a median salary of $74K. By a wide margin, however, Ops professionals are most likely to work in software (33 percent) where the average salary is $95K.

Surprisingly, the survey showed that the more coding an Ops professional performs, the less they can expect to earn. The median salary for those who code 20 or more hours a week is only $82K compared to $94K for those coding between one to three hours per week.

Conversely, salaries rise in line with how many meetings they attend. The largest group of employees (40 percent) spend four to eight hours in meetings each week and earn a median income of $97K. Yet those who spend 20 or more hours in meetings – half their working hours for many – have a median salary of $140K. This likely reflects a higher level of responsibility held by those who spend more time in meetings.

Experience with certain programming languages can also have an effect on salary. Knowledge of Python pays well, with the median salary being $86.3k for the 65 percent of respondents who can use it. Other programming languages PHP and Go pay better, with median salaries at $90k and $102k respectively, but are used by much smaller percentages of professionals.

Commenting on the findings, Nikki McDonald, Content Director and Chair of the Velocity Conference said, “DevOps remains a thriving field with many opportunities for learning and advancement. Yet it’s also one that moves quickly, and choosing the right trends and technologies to focus on can be rewarded with larger paychecks.”

“While the dominance of certain programming languages continues, we expect to see new ones emerge and others fall away as more companies move to the cloud and microservices-based architectures. Ops professionals seeking advancement would do well to keep learning and expanding their skills sets in these areas.”

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