IT practitioners in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand make more money than their peers in other geographies. 

They earn the highest average salaries, according to Puppet and DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA)'s fifth annual 2016 DevOps Salary Report

Portland, Ore.-based Puppet is an information technology automation software company designed for system administrators. 

Puppet surveyed 4,600 technology professionals, which it divided into two groups: IT practitioners and managers.

Puppet concluded:

  • In the US, the most common salary band for DevOps practitioners is now $100,000 to $125,000, compared to $75,000 to $100,000 last year. The most common salary for managers is now $150,000 or more, compared to $125,000 to $150,000 a year ago.
  • For practitioners outside the United States, the most common DevOps salaries are $75,000 to $100,000 in Canada, Australia and New Zealand; $50,000 to $75,000 in Western Europe; and less than $25,000 in Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

The five most common job titles — system administrator, systems developer or engineer, DevOps engineer, software developer or engineer, and architect (excluding cloud, infrastructure, and systems architects) — accounted for more than half of all U.S. respondents. 

Puppet Labs salary survey

Big Salary Jump for Managers

Tim Zonca of Puppet

"One of the biggest surprises in this year’s salary report is that IT manager salaries are almost off the chart, with a large wage gap from practitioners," Tim Zonca, Puppet's VP of product marketing, told CMSWire. 

"Last year, a quarter of all IT managers reported making $150,000-plus, but this year it jumped to nearly half. Manager salaries are most pronounced in the US where they make two salary steps more than practitioners. In the rest of the world they typically have a one-step difference."

IT managers need more empowerment to develop a culture of experimentation and learning, two of the most important things an organization can do to compete in today’s fast-moving world, Zonca said. 

"When leaders invest in their people and give them an environment to do their best work, employees tend to identify more with the organization and are more willing to do whatever is necessary to be successful. Any barriers to IT managers building a generative, performance oriented culture must be removed," he continued.

Lower IT Salaries in Europe, Asia

In Western Europe, IT practitioners and managers reported average salaries in the $50,000 to $74,999 and $75,000 to $99,999 ranges, respectively — the same as the 2015 report.

In Asia, the most common salary range reported by IT practitioners is less than $25,000, again, the same as last year. Managers in Asia reported salaries in the $35,000 to $49,999 range, up from $25,000 to $34,999 in 2015. 

In all geographies, the more servers, the bigger the paycheck. The most common salary range at organizations with more than 5,000 servers is $100,000 to $125,000, while it’s $75,000 to $100,000 at organizations with fewer than 5,000. Data also revealed that organizations with more than 10,000 servers pay the highest percentage of salaries that are $150,000 annually or more.

Focus on Strong IT Teams 

This year's survey shows organizations around the globe need the people and technology that enable a "frictionless delivery of high quality software," according to Nigel Kersten, CIO of Puppet.

"Organizations are realizing the pressures of these dynamics and are pushing to hire, retain and manage the best IT teams to gain a strong competitive advantage," he said.

The pressure to hire and retain all-star IT teams led to perhaps the Puppet survey's core finding: that more than half of all IT practitioners make $100,000 or more, Zonca told CMSWire. 

"The organizations that continue to treat IT as a cost center, rather than the drivers of innovation that they are, won’t be around much longer as their more progressive competitors drive these dinosaurs out of the market," he said. 

"One of the biggest challenges we hear all the time from organizations that want to embrace DevOps practices is that getting the right people in place is the biggest challenge. So in that regard it shouldn’t be a surprise that IT salaries are growing at such a fast pace."

The State of DevOps

Puppet Labs has a vested interest in DevOps. It makes money providing tools. 

Cloud management provider RightScale, in its fifth annual State of the Cloud Survey, reported that Chef, Puppet and Docker are the top three DevOps tools (32 percent, 32 percent and 27 percent, respectively) among 1,060 IT professionals surveyed. Docker is the fastest-growing DevOps tool, with adoption more than doubling year-over-year from 13 percent in 2015 to 27 percent in 2016.

"Interest in DevOps is increasing," RightScale report authors report, "while the adoption of Docker containers is spreading like wildfire. Unlike many previous technology shifts where enterprises adopt more slowly, enterprises are actually leading the way and adopting Docker more quickly than smaller organizations."

DevOps in the last three years has shown enterprises that adopt its collaborative and communicative culture can update platforms multiple times a day, according to CMSWire author Yaniv Yehuda, co-founder and CTO of DBmaestro, an enterprise software development company focusing on database development and deployment technologies. 

"A feat like this would have been impossible a mere decade ago," he added. 

Damon Edwards and John Willis of DevOps Cafe describe the core values of DevOps as culture, automation, measurement and sharing. 

Digging into Puppet's Data

Other notable Puppet findings include:

  • IT practitioners based in the US are more likely to earn $100,000-plus if they work in the technology (65 percent), media/entertainment (65 percent), retail/consumer/e-commerce (65 percent) or finance (61 percent) industries
  • US organizations with the most mature DevOps practices are more likely to compensate IT operations employees $100,000 or more per year
  • 75 percent of Californians, which accounted for 200 practitioner respondents, most of them systems developers or engineers, reported earning $100,000 or more, up from 68 percent in 2015

Get the full 2016 DevOps Salary Report


Puppet Labs DevOps Salary survey