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DevOps specialists and site reliability engineers are ‘Among the highest paid, most experienced developers most satisfied with their jobs, and are looking for new jobs at the lowest levels’, according to research by Stack Overflow.

DevOps specialists stand out in a crowded field

Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey Results for 2019 surveyed nearly 90,000 developers to discover relative reported levels of happiness, job satisfaction, frustrations, and values across a range of job titles, genders, locations, and levels of experience.

Despite the challenges associated with increasing deployment frequency and working in a relatively new and evolving environment, DevOps specialists stand-out as some of the industry’s most happy, fulfilled, and well-rewarded developers.

DevOps roles offer high salaries

DevOps specialists are the third highest-paid developers – with a global average salary of $71k. Only site reliability engineers ($85k) and engineering managers ($95k) reported higher salaries.

StackOverflow Developer survey salary developer type

In the USA these average figures increase to $122k for DevOps, $140k for site reliability engineers, and $152k for engineering managers.

StackOverflow Developer survey salary-developer-type-usa

‘Average top earning roles are remarkably consistent across the globe, from India to Europe to the United States’.

Additionally, DevOps specialists, site reliability engineers, and developers who work with data (data scientists and engineers) are high-earners relative to their level of experience.

StackOverflow Developer survey developer-salary-experience

High levels of job satisfaction match frequent deployments

Although Stack Overflow’s overview doesn’t publish specific numbers, it reports that job satisfaction is ‘highest for engineer managers and senior engineering executives, along with SREs and DevOps specialists’.

Last year’s survey also discovered that higher levels of job satisfaction are associated with more frequent code deployments – a core goal of DevOps. It seems that shifting to daily or even hourly deployments could benefit employee wellbeing as well as customer experience.

DevOps specialists are rarely looking for a new job

An overwhelming majority of DevOps specialists (88.2%) aren’t actively looking for a job – a figure that’s lower than every other developer role apart from senior executive/VP (88.6%). Again, this suggests that DevOps developers enjoy high levels of job satisfaction. Which types of developers are most likely to job hunt?

DevOps and site reliability engineers report similar experiences

Stack Overflow notes that ‘pairs that are highly correlated include database administrator and system administrator, DevOps specialist and site reliability engineer, academic researcher and scientist, and designer and front-end developer’.

The fact that ‘DevOps specialist’ and ‘site reliability engineer’ (SRE) report similar average salaries, levels of job satisfaction, and low likelihood of job-seeking shouldn’t be surprising – as the two roles are closely-related.

Ali Fay, a DevOps expert says, ‘A “DevOps Engineer” is someone who not only understands the full SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) but has the hands-on skills actually [required] to implement changes to tooling for supporting the improved processes. Usually, those skills are honed from years of experience as a sysadmin and/or developer, allowing them to implement services using good quality code. Whereas SREs main job is ensuring the site (aka “platform/service”) is always operational, no matter what.’

DevOps specialists and SRE prefer Visual Studio Code and Vim

Most DevOps and Site Reliability Engineers prefer Visual Studio Code (55.2%) followed by Vim (43.7%), and IntelliJ (29.4%).

StackOverflow Developer survey popular-development-environments

That said, Visual Studio Code was the most popular development environment across all developers (50.7%). A more significant contrast is Vim, which was only preferred by a quarter (25.4%) of developers overall – so it enjoys particular popularity in DevOps teams.

Other interesting discoveries include:

  • Over half of all respondents wrote their first line of code by age 16.
  • The average age for writing the first line of code ranges from 14.2 in Australia to 17 in India.
  • Almost 90% of developers have taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool outside of their formal education.
  • ‘Languages, frameworks, and other technologies I’d be working with’ – including Artificial Intelligence – was the most popular reason for choosing a new job.

You can read here the full StackOverflow Developer Survey 2019 results.

Alex Napier Holland

Tech Business Writer