Money isn’t everything but it is important. Few industries of recent years have seen greater growth in salary as IT but that growth has been uneven. We found that tech salaries can be affected by a number of factors including technology, job title, industry, skill, area of development, and tech stack. Certainly, many tech jobs pay well but in 2019, only a few jobs stand out as the highest paying tech jobs.
We’ve looked at the data from Dice, PayScale, Glassdoor, and Stack Overflow and put them together in this handy infographic.
Highest paying tech jobs: infographic
The top 10 highest paying tech jobs globally
Globally, engineering managers are by far the highest compensated position. According to Stack Overflow, they earn on average $89k, a full 20% more than the next highest-paid position, DevOps specialist. But don’t feel too bad for the DevOps specialists of the world. At $72k, they make 17% more than the third-highest paid profession on the list, data scientist/machine learning specialist. At $60k, their salary is rather similar to the rest of the top 10.
Data or business analysts, embedded application or device developers, and full-stack developers all make $59k. Desktop or enterprise application developers make $57k, while back-end developers and system administrators both make $56k. Rounding out the top 10 are QA or test developers who make $55k. It should be noted that these are worldwide averages and there can be significant regional differences
Top job titles by salary
While tech salaries are high for the world in general, one country stands out for both the size of the tech salaries and the volume of hiring. This is, of course, the United States. Even if you aren’t hiring technical employees in the US, it’s still important to pay attention to the pull they have on the world job market. We found in our Global Technical Hiring & Skills Report 2019 that the vast majority of companies hiring software developers are in the US. Additionally, half of the developers American companies recruited came from outside the US. This means that no matter where you’re based, the salaries in the United States will be a draw for the best tech talent.
To find out what the highest salaries are in the US, we looked at the Dice 2019 Tech Salary Report. Unsurprisingly, tech management as in CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, VPs, or directors, brought in the highest average salary of $142,063. As we observed with world tech salaries, there is a rather large drop between the first and second places on the list. Systems architects come next earning $129,952 or roughly 9% less than the top-level of tech management.
Right below them come mid-level tech managers, such as strategists and architects. Their average salary comes in at $127,121. To put this salary into context, these roles are similar to the engineering managers who top out the global tech list. To get across simply how much of a salary jump you get in the US, this is a full 30% more than the world average. After strategists and architects, most of the other roles in the top 10 earn a similar wage. Product managers earn $114,174, DevOps engineers earn $111,683, software engineers earn $110,989, hardware engineers earn $110,972, project managers earn $110,925, and security engineers earn $110,716. Rounding out the top 10, application developers earn $105,202.
Only three of the most highly paid job titles on the Dice report have equivalent positions in the Stack Overflow top 10 highest paying tech jobs globally. In addition to engineering and tech managers, DevOps engineers are paid 35% more in the US and application developers are paid 47% more in the US than back-end developers in the rest of the world. This clearly shows that job titles aren’t enough, geography makes a difference as well.
Top 5 industries by salary
Industries can make a big difference in the salaries of tech workers. While the obvious location to find a software developer would be in the software industry, you’ll find that software developers are highly sought after across a wide variety of industries. According to the same Dice report, computer software isn’t even the industry that pays its developers the highest salaries, on average. That role goes to the aerospace and defense industry which on average pays its developers $109,698. This is a full 5.4% higher than it was last year, suggesting that it won’t lose it’s top position anytime soon. Next, you find utilities and energy companies. They pay on average $106,780 and are actually expanding their salary levels even more than aerospace and defense. Utility and energy company tech salaries have gone up 6.1% over the last year.
Companies in financial industries like bank and insurance pay on average $105,170. They may not keep this position for long though as salaries in these industries have gone down 3.1% from last year. The highest rate of salary growth is in entertainment and media. The average tech salary here is $103,608, a full 9.6% higher than it was last year. Coming in fifth is the computer software industry with $102,739. The average salary in this industry is steadily rising at 5.9% more than last year, so expect these numbers to continue going up.
Top 10 highest paying tech jobs by skills
Variations in tech salaries can be affected by even more specific factors than position or industry. According to Dice, specific skills will actually command much higher salaries than other skills. This is partly because of certain skills used with high-value technologies, even within a particular tech stack. Not only that, very few of these skills are actually programming languages. The rest involve technologies used in a couple of highly sought-after competencies.
The highest average salary is for a programming language. Golang can fetch a developer an average of $132,827. Golang is often used on large-scale systems. In fact, a lot of the Highest paying tech jobs’ skills involve working on large systems or data sets. Kafka comes in second at $127,554. This is the first big data technology on the list. Amazon DynamoDB comes in at $125,609. Rather than being used for big data, this and, Amazon Redshift, coming in at $125,090 are both cloud technologies. After these cloud technologies, you have Cassandra at $124,152 and Elasticsearch at $123,933. These are both big data technologies like Kafka.
The only other programming language in the top ten is RabbitMQ, coming in at $123,777. Next, we have MapReduce which is a big data technology. That comes in at $123,001. Two cloud technologies round out the top 10. Platform-as-a-service or PasS comes in at $122,967 and HANA or high-performance analytical applications comes in at $122,907. When we see individual technologies producing huge salaries, they tend to be clustered around cloud and big data.
Front-end, back-end, and full-stack developer salaries in the US
Looking at software development another way, we can see that there is variation depending on what part of the application the development is done on. Back-end developers are the developers who build the server-side computational and analytical systems that the user doesn’t normally see. They also work with the database. But with the rise of the internet, computational work is actually being done in the browser. This is the role of the front-end developer.
According to PayScale, there’s not that much variation but front-end developers make slightly more ($70,537) than back-end developers ($69,360). Where we see a jump in salary is with full-stack developers. Full-stack developers have expertise in both the front-end and back-end and understand well how they connect. Because of this expertise, full-stack developers are often integral parts of and leaders of software development teams. As a result, we do see a jump in full stack developer salary coming at $75,057.
Highest paying tech jobs by tech stack
While language skills are important in tech, they don’t stand on their own. Language tech stacks are full of resources like libraries and frameworks that make software development more efficient. Experience with a tech stack can be an incredibly sought-after skill. Here are the tech stacks which are related to the highest paying tech jobs, according to Glassdoor.
iOS comes in at $106,557. This tech stack includes all the different components of the iPhone, written in languages like Objective-C and Swift. The next highest paying tech stack is iOS’s mobile rival Android. This comes in at $97,445 and includes mobile libraries written in languages like Kotlin and Java. After these two mobile tech stacks comes .NET, the universal framework from Microsoft. .NET includes a number of languages including C#, Microsoft Visual Basic, and F# as well as a number of frameworks like ASP.NET and Entity framework.
Tied with .NET is C++, a tech stack often used for embedded and high-performance applications. Both come in with an average salary of $95,052. After C++ comes PHP at $93,987. This is the server-side language that most websites are written in and involves a number of frameworks like Drupal and Symphony. Java commands an average salary of $88,116 and includes a number of frameworks like Spring. After Java comes Python at $86,087. This is used in web development with frameworks like Django and in data science with frameworks like NumPy.
Highest paying tech jobs’ salary stats
The salaries described in this infographic sound high by most people’s standards, considering they are averages across industries and countries. Still, they have not assuaged the demands of tech workers in general. Since 2012, tech worker satisfaction has been steadily declining with 57% of tech workers being satisfied in 2012 but only 48% being satisfied in 2018. Certainly, part of this disillusion comes down to salary. Compensation and benefits are the number one priority in assessing potential jobs. Of the tech professionals anticipating a job change in 2019, 68% will do so for higher compensation. Part of the issue here is that only around half have confidence that they can improve their salary by staying in their field. Only 51.3% of developers believe they can grow their salary without becoming engineering managers, let alone landing one fo the highest paying tech jobs.
When competing to get the best tech talent, it’s important to be mindful of what specific skills are worth and make offers that reflect the market. and always keep the highest-paying tech jobs in mind.