Back to articles list Articles Cookbook
6 minutes read

How Much Do Data Engineers Earn in 2020?

Data engineering is a hot job right now. What does a data engineer do? And just how much do they earn? We’ve done the research for you.

If you are reading this, you’re either starting to learn SQL or you already know some and feel it’s time to look around for a SQL job. Maybe you’re in the midst of tackling our Creating Database Structure track.

And, let’s be honest, maybe you need some extra motivation to keep on you track. What better way of continuing towards your dream job of data engineering than some numbers? Are there any better numbers than your future earnings? How much do data engineers earn, anyway? We checked reliable sources to find out for you. (Prepare to be motivated – a data engineer’s salary isn’t skimpy!) But before you can bring home the money, you have to get the skills. So, in addition to data engineers earnings, we’ve included some info on what data engineering is and what you need to get there.

What Is Data Engineering?

I should become a data engineer

Data is everywhere. We are constantly generating and processing it. Because of that, a few fields and concepts have gotten more attention. I’m talking about data science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Big Data. All of them work with information, but they do different things. Knowing the difference can help you to understand how they intertwine and how a data engineer can work with each of them.

The tremendous amount of available data requires special processing. This is where data engineering comes in. Data engineering is a fairly new term in IT; to fully understand its key values, read the article What Is Data Engineering?. It explains the difference between data science, Big Data, and machine learning and shows how they can be combined to analyze vast amounts of data.

What Does a Data Engineer Do?

A data engineer optimizes the storage and processing of large amounts of data. They design data pipelines and flows and also create database structures to store the data that’s collected. This requires a broad range of technical skills, including programming, automation, scripting, and database design. Plus, data engineers have to understand how to use different Big Data tools. This multidisciplinary approach allows data engineers to identify what kind of data can be obtained and stored. They also need to ensure that the whole process meets industry standards and business requirements.

If you want to know more about the differences between a data scientist, a data analyst, and a data engineer, I recommend the article Who Is a Data Engineer?. It will give you more insight into this role and help you visualize the next steps in your career (if you choose to pursue data engineering).

Now it’s logical to ask if data engineers are currently in demand. Let's look at the numbers and find out.

Are Data Engineers in High Demand?

IT industry specialists have always been sought after. Is there a need for data engineering specialists? The simplest answer is YES! Companies have noticed that this position is key to using data to its full potential.

Speaking of data, let’s have some numbers do the talking. In The Dice 2020 Tech Job Report, data engineering is revealed as the fastest-growing tech job. This is due to its 50% year-over-year growth rate. Let's add that Dice experts know what they’re talking about; the site is one of the world’s largest IT industry job platforms.

Fastest Growing Tech Occupations


The report also states that the top five data engineering skills include SQL, Python, Big Data, Hadoop, and ETL. So, if you’re learning SQL, you’re doing your career a huge favor.

Top Tech Skills


We know that employers are looking for data engineers, but how long does it take to recruit one? The report says it takes an average of 46 days to fill an opening for a data engineer. It also mentions that this “may increase in 2020 as more companies compete to find the talent they need to handle their sprawling data infrastructure.” Build your data skills and people could be virtually knocking on your door with job offers.

Is this trend going to continue? Everything indicates that it will. Data engineering jobs rose a respectable 45% in 2019, and we see this figure has increased for 2020. There’s a pattern here.

If a growing number of jobs doesn’t motivate you to learn data engineering, what will? Oh, yes. A little thing called ‘salary’.

How Much Do Data Engineers Make?

Kept you waiting, huh? To quote the movie Jerry Maguire: “Show me the money!”

Before we get into the average data engineering salary, let me explain the approach I took while gathering information for this article.

To answer the question of how much data engineers make, I collected data from various job websites. Salary averages vary from source to source; however, we can use them to get an idea of how much money data engineers earn. Remember, these salaries are based on the U.S. market and are before taxes are taken out.

With that out of the way, we can look into data engineer salaries!

First, let's look at what Glassdoor has to say about how much data engineers earn. At the time of writing this article, Glassdoor estimated the average base pay for data engineers at $102,864 annually. This is based on earnings reported by thousands of companies. You have to admit it's a pretty good amount of cash!

Data Engineer Salaries


Another source, the job aggregator and information site, reports even higher earnings for data engineers: $129,415 per year with a possible $5,000 bonus.

Data Engineer Salaries


The third source is Stack Overflow. If you are planning a career in IT, you probably know this website. It has over 50 million daily users and creates a well-known survey summarizing the latest IT trends.

Once a year, Stack Overflow asks programmers questions about a variety of things, including their jobs, skills, and future plans. This year, over 65,000 developers participated in the Stack Overflow Developers Survey 2020. Looking through the document, we see the following graph, showing that data engineers earn $125k/year:

Salary by Developer Type

Source: Stack

If we look at the data gathered by PayScale, we can see a slightly different result. Their average data engineer salary is around $92,160 per year. The difference in this case may result from a slightly different research method. But hey, it's still a pretty substantial sum.

Average Data Engineer Salary


Whichever data source we take, it’s clear that your earnings as a data engineer can be quite worthy. Are you making over $ 100,000 in your current job? If so, congratulations! But it still pays to learn SQL. Get a new skill and see if your boss will consider giving you a raise. And if you earn less, ask yourself why you’re staying in your current position when there is an opportunity to catch one of the biggest waves in the labor market.

What to Do Next If You Want to Be a Data Engineer

So there you have it. Now you know how much a data engineer earns. Moreover, you understand the key responsibilities and skills involved in being a data engineer.

With your motivation back in place and your eyes on the prize, what can you do to move forwards? I recommend trying our Creating Database Structure track (if you haven’t already). Learn SQL and be awesome!