DevOps practitioners are among the highest paid IT professionals today, and the market demand for them is growing rapidly. That's the conclusion of research from information technology (IT) automation provider Puppet Labs, which released its DevOps Salary Report (registration required) yesterday.

The research is based on salary data gathered from the State of DevOps Report that it released last June. Analysis of some 9,200 technology professionals around the world shows that nearly half of development and operations (DevOps) professionals (which include a wide range of titles) make at least six figure annual salaries, at least in the US.

Worth the Cost

DevOps practitioners are responsible for the communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and IT operations. Some of their job responsibilities include speeding up the production of software and IT services so that these products and services can be pushed to market more frequently, lowering the failure rate of software and IT products and shortening the time to recovery should software or an IT service experience a failure.

Their complex responsibilities, along with the ever-changing nature of software development and IT operations and the results that they produce for the companies that hire them (such as faster deployment of code and improved operation of the systems they are responsible for), justify their high salaries, the report concludes.

“Our DevOps salary findings underscore the urgency with which organizations are investing in DevOps tools and practices to become faster, more agile organizations,” said Nigel Kersten, CIO of Puppet Labs. “Every company has become a technology company, and those that do it well win."

According to the report, 58 percent of DevOps practitioners earning $100,000 or more annually are employed in the media and entertainment sector, while only 17 percent are employed in the education sector.

This could imply that entertainment companies (including film studios, media companies, internet broadcast, etc.) recognize that IT confers a competitive advantage, the report notes, adding:

Think about the elaborate technology required for special computer-generated effects in film and digital games, or of how heavily Netflix has invested in creating a flexible cloud-native infrastructure to support streaming video on demand. Spotify has also invested deeply in infrastructure, and now provides uninterrupted streaming audio to more than 50 million listeners."

Geography plays a factor, too: 65 percent of the highly paid DevOps engineers are employed in California, with New York (58 percent), Texas (41 percent) and Oregon (37 percent) following. The presence of Silicon Valley in California, where many of the world's biggest tech firms are located, gives the state an advantage when it comes to DevOps adoption.


Learning Opportunities

Puppet Labs' report also shows that the salaries of DevOps engineers employed in the United States and Western Europe follow a bell curve, while DevOps engineers' salaries in Eastern Europe and Asia are mostly clustered near the lower end of the scale. Two reasons explored in the study are the economic contexts between the regions and overall adoption of DevOps. 

For example, India has a large very large IT sector that specializes in business process outsourcing (BPO). India's IT sector was worth $114 billion in 2014. However, India's standard of living is still lower than the United States and Western Europe, which might explain the fact that 54 percent figure of DevOps engineers based in Asia earn less than $25,000 a year. (Salary ranges are expressed in US dollars, including those for international respondents.)

What Title is Most Valuable?

Puppet Labs' research includes a range of job titles — and not all of them are created equal.


"Despite ongoing controversy about the validity of the job title itself, DevOps engineers make noticeably better salaries than most other practitioner job titles that showed up in the 2014 survey and report. Fifty-eight percent of US DevOps engineers make $100,000 per year or more. They are surpassed only by architects, a group that includes three distinct job titles: architects; cloud or infrastructure architects; and systems architects... Software developers rank third for concentration in the top three salary bands: 48 percent of US survey respondents with this job title make at least $100,000 per year," the report notes.


We reported on the arrival of DevOps two years ago. Given the speed of adoption of DevOps and the rising salaries of DevOps engineers, expect these numbers to keep climbing.