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DevOps is flourishing: New survey reports median salary of $90,000

Sarah Schlothauer
© Shutterstock / Sira Anamwong

IT/Ops professionals are some of the best paid in the field. Things move fast, with new technology to constantly learn and keep up with. While there is no secret code to earning more, there are some trends between the top earners. What do these DevOps specialists have in common and what should you focus on to move up the ladder?

DevOps is on the rise

The O’Reilly sponsored annual IT/Ops Salary Survey, now available for download, provides insights into the state of DevOps.

This year, more than 1,300 people from over 70 countries and almost all 50 states responded to questions about their career, including salary information, time spent coding, team size, demographic distribution, programming languages, and all those dreaded hours spent in meetings.

As we explored recently in a September 2018 article, DevOps specialists are currently top earners. This is true not only in the United States, but in Germany, India, and the United Kingdom as well. According to Stack Overflow’s updated Salary Calculator, DevOps specialists earn a median salary close to $100,000 in the United States. This info is similar to the data from O’Reilly.

This year the median salary for an IT/Ops professional was $90,000 USD, down $10,000 from last year. This is likely to be due to a change in the geographic distribution of the sample: there are more respondents this year from areas where income tends to be lower.

O’Reilly’s annual IT/Ops Salary Survey 2018

What does it take to break into these high figures? Let’s take a look at some of the things that high earners have in common. Of course, correlation does not equal causation, so as with any data take this with a grain of salt and think critically!

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High paying environments

Global earnings are obviously going to differ, so it is tough to compare the salary of a worker in the United States versus a country in Eastern Europe without also taking into consideration other factors such as cost of living and economic strength. With this in mind, the median salary range was highest in the United States, specifically those in California and the Northeast. In trailblazing California, the median salary was a whopping $149,000.

Does company size affect your earnings? According to the data, there is a high likelihood that these go hand in hand. Salaries were lowest for one-person companies and highest for companies with 10,000 or more employees. However, the age of the company does not have any real impact on earnings. Both young and old companies have comparable variances in pay.

We have all heard of team crunch time and developer burnout. When it comes to the work week, the data agrees that big earners are working more hours. Respondents who worked more than 60 hours a week have a median salary of $131,000, while those with a 40 hour work week take home a median of $83,000.

These results are not too surprising: more responsibility, more work, more money. Big company, big team, big bucks.

Advancing your career

Let’s look at variables that can be controlled (to a degree).

As far as programming languages are concerned, scripting languages are heavily favored. Our previously mentioned article stated that Go was a big earner, and the O’Reilly report agrees. Go, Lisp, and Swift have similar median salaries: all around $102,000. Other high earning languages include Clojure, Scala, and Swift.

While most of the respondents studied computer science, math, statistics, of physics in college, about one third either did not study at the University level at all or majored in something different. More education almost always lined up with higher earnings and as the years go on, more and more respondents are earning a Masters degree. 10% of respondents even completed a doctorate degree. 34% of respondents wished to learn new technology in order to advance their career.

There’s good news for DevOps specialists looking for a new role. Most of the respondents confidently agreed that it would be easy for them to find a new role.

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Do you agree with this assessment? Is finding a new role easier than ever, or has it become too competitive to gain a foothold and move up?

Know your worth

Just as with the Salary Calculator, studies such as this are useful tools for assessing your own salary. Even while not actively looking for a position, it is important to occasionally check your earnings against those in a similar work environment and comparable experience. Make sure you are being paid what you deserve.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate! Respondents who rated themselves as great bargainers also pulled in the most money.

Want to peruse through the report for yourself? It’s free to download here.


Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer

All Posts by Sarah Schlothauer

Sarah Schlothauer is the editor for She received her Bachelor's degree from Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey. She currently lives in Frankfurt, Germany with her husband and cat where she enjoys reading, writing, and medieval reenactment. She is also the editor for Conditio Humana, an online magazine about ethics, AI, and technology.

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