Cloud, Hadoop and Tableau Among Factors that Boost Data Job Salaries

Loraine Lawson

Data professionals who want to boost their earning power should focus on gaining cloud, Hadoop or Tableau skills, and maybe re-evaluating the type of organizations they work for, according to a recent O’Reilly data salary survey.

Likewise, CIOs who want to keep staff costs down would do well to stick with tried-and-true tools, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Visual Basic/VBA and, of course, Excel.

O’Reilly ran the opt-in survey from October 2013 through September of this year, a timespan that allowed the company to collect an impressive 816 responses, with 80 percent working in data science and analytics fields. The findings aren’t always surprising, but IT leaders can still glean a lot of valuable insights from this report, including how much technology choice might boost your salary costs.

For instance, if you’re using Hadoop, boost your salary expectations from the RBDMS median of $88,000 to $118,000. If you want both Hadoop and RBDMS, expect to pay more along the line of $122,000, the survey found. HBASE, an Apache database that runs atop Hadoop, is also a major salary booster, with the median above $120,000. Salaries for those with Tableau experience start around $80,000 and exceed $160,000.


Cloud experience can also make a significant difference in pay — but you may need to be nearly all-in for it to really matter. Those who report being “most or all cloud users” report the biggest boost, reporting salaries of around $118,000, while non-cloud users report a median of $85,000.

The lowest reported salary was around $66,000. If you’re paying data employees this much, you may feel that they are underpaid after reading this. What are you doing wrong? There’s a good chance you’re in the government sector, where employees report the lowest median salaries. Education and science & technology sectors also reportedly perform lower than private and publicly traded organizations.

Conversely, the higher median salary industries included banking/finance ($117,000) and software ($116,000). Entertainment, however, outshone all of them at $135,000, but only 20 people from that sector responded, so that could be an outlier.

Cloud Computing

Predictably, salaries paid also vary by experience and education as well as geography. For instance, each year of age will add $1,094 to an employee’s salary, and each year worked in the data field is worth $1,353 in increased pay.

Sadly, it seems data folks aren’t immune to salary inequities: The report identifies a gender gap of $13,000 between men’s and women’s salaries. The report does not address how race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or religious affiliation might affect salary, although it does look at how compensation varies by country.

The O’Reilly 2014 Data Science Salary Survey is a fascinating report, particularly the section showing the regression model of total salary. That’s where you find the juicy stuff about what adds or subtracts from total salary. The best part, though, is that it’s available for free download, with basic user registration information.

Loraine Lawson is a veteran technology reporter and blogger. She currently writes the Integration blog for IT Business Edge, which covers all aspects of integration technology, including data governance and best practices. She has also covered IT/Business Alignment and IT Security for IT Business Edge. Before becoming a freelance writer, Lawson worked at TechRepublic as a site editor and writer, covering mobile, IT management, IT security and other technology trends. Previously, she was a webmaster at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and a newspaper journalist. Follow Lawson at Google+ and on Twitter.



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