DevOps Shines in 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Report

The new 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Report paints a rosy picture for the related positions of DevOps specialists and site reliability engineers across several different areas, including salary and job satisfaction.

The sprawling survey from the Q&A-focused development site this year polled more than 88,000 developers around the world to collect data that is sliced, diced and presented in myriad ways in the new report, just published today (April 9).

Culling through that data finds one main takeaway about the DevOps movement that has been gaining steam by providing automated processes that bridge software development and IT teams to improve the build/test/release cycle:

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.

Interestingly, SO associates the positions of DevOps specialist and site reliability engineers (SRE) in a matrix that links related technologies. "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 report states.

On the salary front, DevOps specialists and SREs have attained status more commonly associated with perennial frontrunners data scientists and engineers. "Engineering managers, SREs, DevOps specialists, and data scientists/engineers command the highest salaries," the report reveals. "Average top earning roles are remarkably consistent across the globe, from India to Europe to the United States."

Top 10 Salaries by Developer Typ
[Click on image for larger view.] Top 10 Salaries by Developer Type (source: Stack Overflow)

When salaries are segregated out by developer type, DevOps specialists come in at No. 3 (about $71,000), behind engineering manager (about $95,000) and SRE (about $85,000).

And, despite DevOps being a somewhat new initiative in the software development world, its practitioners somehow exhibit high levels of experience, with the report stating: "Developers who work in different areas of software development have different average amounts of experience. Aside from technical executives and managers, SREs and developers who build for embedded devices have the most experience, while academic researchers and data scientists have the fewest years of experience. The related roles and disciplines of site reliability engineering and DevOps are somewhat new, but the people working in this field are highly experienced."

Of course, that experience is related to compensation. "Naturally, developers with more years of experience are paid more," the report states. "However, some types of coding work are paid more highly at the same level of experience. Developers who work with data (data scientists and engineers) and those who work in DevOps and site reliability are high earners for their level of experience, while academic researchers and educators are paid less at their experience levels."

When gauging job satisfaction, DevOps specialists and SREs were again called out by Stack Overflow. "As we've found in previous years, developers tend to be more satisfied with their career than with their current job," the report said. "Job satisfaction is highest for engineering managers and senior engineering executives, along with SREs and DevOps specialists. Developers with the lowest job satisfaction include academic researchers, educators, scientists, and designers."

The rise of DevOps in the new survey was foreshadowed in last year's report, which stated: "DevOps and machine learning are important trends in the software industry today. Languages and frameworks associated with these kinds of works are on the rise, and developers working in these areas command the highest salaries."

Other highlights of the 2019 survey as summarized by SO include:

  • Python, the fastest-growing major programming language, has risen in the ranks of programming languages in our survey yet again, edging out Java this year and standing as the second most loved language (behind Rust).
  • Over half of respondents had written their first line of code by the time they were sixteen, although this experience varies by country and by gender.
  • Of the top countries on our survey, China has developers that are the most optimistic, believing that people born today will have a better life than their parents. Developers in Western European countries like France and Germany are among the least optimistic about the future.
  • When thinking about blockers to productivity, different kinds of developers report different challenges. Men are more likely to say that being tasked with non-development work is a problem for them, while gender minority respondents are more likely to say that toxic work environments are a problem.

Methodology for the 2019 Stack Overflow Developer Survey says it's "based on a survey of 88,883 software developers from 179 countries around the world."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.