Although 2020 was a challenging year on many fronts because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was a year of growth for DevOps professionals.
The 2020 DevOps Salary Report, commissioned by DevOps vendor Puppet, which also produces the annual State of DevOps report, surveyed 2,415 developers from around the world and found a number of positive trends in the profession. Among the top-level findings is that 2020 saw an overall rise in reported salary of DevOps professionals around the world, when compared with 2019. In the United States, 35% of DevOps respondents reported a salary of between $150,000-$250,000 a year, up from 29% of respondents in the 2019 survey.
While DevOps professionals in the U.S. tend to make more money than in other parts of the world, Japanese DevOps professionals scored the highest percentage gain in 2020. In 2019, only 24% of Japanese DevOps professionals earned $75,000 or more, but that catapulted to 67% in 2020. Those in the United Kingdom also had a strong growth year, with 74% of DevOps professionals in 2020 earning $75,000 or more, up from 57% in 2019.
Alanna Brown, co-author of the Puppet report, told ITPro Today that because of the upheaval and uncertainty of the last year, she and her team weren't sure what to expect initially from this year's report regarding the salary of DevOps professionals.
"The biggest surprise was that despite all the layoffs and major shutdowns, tech salaries increased worldwide, particularly for upper-income respondents in the U.S., UK and Japan," Brown said. "While that might seem counterintuitive to what you'd expect during a pandemic, the truth is organizations have had to accelerate their digital transformation efforts, and those that have successfully pivoted are succeeding – in part because they've filled their talent gaps, leading to a corresponding rise in salaries."
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"For the first time, platform engineers have emerged as the top earners in our report, surpassing DevOps engineers and software engineers," Brown said. "As tools and scale become increasingly complex, the reliance on platform engineers will likely grow. In the coming year, we expect to see an even greater reliance on platform teams and the practitioners who manage internal platforms."
One area of growth in the salary of DevOps professionals that still has room for improvement is that of gender equality. Brown noted that the survey found that 12% of men earn $125,000-$150,000, compared with just 9% of women. This trend continues in the upper salary ranges, with 3% of men earning over $250,000 per year, compared with just 1% of women.
"We hope to see the next year bring greater gender equality in terms of salaries," she said. "While this report shows women earning more midrange salaries than men, they have much lower representation in the upper salary range."