Salary averages can be misleading. One culprit? Geography. A salary in San Francisco doesn’t compare dollar-for-dollar to a salary in Charlotte. Another culprit? Math. Quite simply, outliers (i.e., expensive cities) skew the data. That seems obvious, right?
It’s easier to report a national average without context, but it’s better to look at regions than national averages to determine honest salary averages. That’s why we took a look at the salaries of data center technicians, by city (like we did for Information Security Analysts and Ethical Hackers).
Utilizing Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and local postings, we looked at salaries in 13 cities to get an accurate sense of the data. More importantly, we focused on cities that house large data centers.
It’s well known that more than 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic passes through Loudoun County in Northern Virginia. But, every one of these cities wooed companies to bring their data centers (and jobs) to their region with the two things every data center needs — cheap power and lots of land.
Here are the numbers.
We focused on job postings explicitly for data center technicians. To keep the numbers accurate, we did not include analysts, senior technicians, or managers.
The national average salary for a data center technician is $58,538.
The average high: $78,077
The average low: $39,000
Here are the data center technician salaries from 13 U.S. cities:
|Northern Virginia – Ashburn/Chantilly, VA
|Dallas / Ft. Worth
|Bay Area – San Jose
|Council Bluffs, Iowa
|Salt Lake City, UT
What is a data center technician?
First, the data center technician is an entry-level position. Data center techs are responsible for the hardware and software that keeps data center operating at peak performance — emphasis on hardware. While the technician handles both the physical and virtual components of a data center, it’s a very physical job. Tasks may include troubleshooting, hardware management, and cable management. Data center technicians may be assigned to a specific server or to manage the entire network itself.
Type of experience required
Because data center techs are entry-level positions, they don’t require experience, but it’s preferred. Job postings we saw list familiarity with networking, with a heavy emphasis on cabling standards and documentation. Once again, that’s because most data center technicians are close to the metal. With that said, proficiency in multiple scripting languages and operating systems are also often listed as preferred requirements.
We also saw these certifications on a bunch of job postings:
When it comes down to it, data center techs are IT pros with a diverse set of daily tasks. They might be terminating cable ends, drilling hard drives, or remotely recovering data. On an environmental note, data center techs should also have a tolerance to the cold, and the ability to go without food or water for long periods of time. There’s no food or drink allowed in data centers.
How to Become a Data Center Engineer
Those who have braved a loud, cold data center, and enjoyed it, might consider getting certified and moving up. If you’re just starting out, we recommend learning the basics of data centers.
The CCNA Data Center certification will get you to the first stage in management (and away from the racks). Hopeful data center engineers will have to pass two exams to earn the certification. The first exam, CCNA Data Center 200-150, is similar to the CCNA R&S. It covers foundational networking principles. The second exam, CCNA Data Center 200-155, gets into the core data center technologies, like virtual routing and forwarding, VDCs, hypervisors, USC configuration, and other networking fundamentals specific to the data center.
If you are already in the field, learning management and leadership skills could help boost you into more senior roles including:
- Data Center Engineer
- Senior Data Center Technician
- Data Center Operations Manager
- Data Center Manager
No matter what step you are at, CBT Nuggets can help give you the skills you need to work your way to the top of the data center payscale.