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29 Honest DevOps Architect Salaries
Over the last several years, a creeping change has overtaken software development and tech companies. It’s a change that’s usually led by a DevOps architect, a job title whose popularity has grown at the same pace as its salary. People used to shrug away the job, but these days, if a DevOps architect’s salary isn’t in the triple digits, it might be time for a promotion.
The change that took over software and development companies came in the form of agile-related production strategies like DevOps. DevOps started spreading to other industries and now some companies everywhere depend on DevOps architects. Companies are prepared to pay certified cloud architects a great salary because they merge development teams’ methods with workflows that include all other IT professionals.
If you’re a DevOps architect, or want to be some day, you should know what you and your skills are worth. The salary a DevOps architect can expect changes drastically from place to place, some are paid in the low $60,000s, while others are paid north of $150,000. Read on to learn what a competitive DevOps architect salary looks like, where you can find it, and how you can improve your odds of qualifying for the best ones.
What is a DevOps Architect?
A DevOps architect defines, plans and then shapes a structured solution for incorporating DevOps practices and methodologies into an organization’s technical, operational and organizational environment. A DevOps architect has usually had several years of experience implementing and managing DevOps, sometimes as a DevOps engineer. But they usually also have several years of experience as a software developer, or better yet, a software architect or engineer.
DevOps architects can expect salaries in the triple digits not just because they have deep technical expertise in development, configuration, and automation (but they do), but because they have excellent leadership and communication skills. A DevOps architect is often responsible for dreaming up big changes to an organization’s workflow, and they have to bring that change about without holding a position of formal power within the hierarchy.
DevOps architects also live and breathe DevOps. DevOps is the strategy for defining a company’s workflow around synergy between operations and development, which is usually why DevOps is found in software development companies. In that “native” environment, DevOps architects can help a company reduce errors in software releases, improve automation, provide reliable IT troubleshooting and release updates and patches faster.
29 Real Salaries for DevOps Architects
It’s hard to find out what a competitive salary is for any job, much less one that didn’t exist barely two decades ago. A DevOps architect’s salary can change based on many different factors: experience, industry, certifications, training, and, above all, where you work.
We’ve looked all over the internet for DevOps architects’ salaries. We found job postings in job markets all over the country, we pulled job descriptions of DevOps architects in different states, and we extracted data from salary-comparison websites. We gathered that together to provide a national snapshot of DevOps architects’ salaries, but also what those salaries look like on a state-by-state basis.
Almost everywhere we looked, the ranges we saw were so wide that one number didn’t do it justice. So rather than present you with only the average salary, we’ve also analyzed the numbers further and come up with a low-end average, high-end average and overall average. We’ll start with national averages, but further on we’ll look at what training, experience and certifications can move a cloud architect’s salary from the low-end into the higher ranges.
- The national average salary for a DevOps Architect is $91,800.
- The average high for a DevOps Architect is $115,600.
- The average low for a DevOps Architect is $71,000.
As you look at the following chart of 29 cloud architect salaries, pay attention to where the national averages are especially different:
|City||State||Low-end Average||Average||High-end Average|
Seven of the top ten salaries for DevOps architects are on the coasts. It’s not unusual for coastal cities and states to drive average salaries up for many IT careers. When you look at the high-end and overall average salaries, the greater metropolitan areas of cities like San Francisco, New York, D.C., and Seattle take seven of the top ten spots. This should indicate that where you go looking for a DevOps architect position can affect your salary. High-population cities and coastal cities known for their IT footprint are more likely to pay well than smaller cities in fly-over states.
Cities with the largest populations support the highest DevOps architect salaries. While the trend isn’t a 1:1 comparison, it’s apparent that cities with the highest populations also have the highest DevOps architect salaries. There could be two reasons for this: first, cities with higher populations tend to have higher costs of living. Second, DevOps architects often support high-tech opportunities who tend to gravitate to high-density civic areas. This, like the point above, suggests that DevOps architects willing to move for a job could land a significantly higher salary.
As DevOps salaries increase, the difference between low-paid and high-paid also increases. According to our data, Bayamon, Puerto Rico has the lowest average salary for DevOps architects, and San Francisco has the highest. In Bayamon, the difference between a low-paid DevOps architect and a high-paid one is $37,000. Meanwhile in San Francisco, that difference is $63,000. This suggests that as job opportunities for a DevOps architect expand, so do the opportunities to set yourself apart from your competition with increased training and certifications.
High-paid DevOps architects skew the national average upward. If you ignore the top ten cities on our chart of DevOps architect salaries, the range that separates high-paid DevOps architects and low-paid ones shrinks by a lot. This suggests that there’s some uncertainty and volatility in the most competitive markets, but in the middle markets, there’s a greater degree of stability for DevOps architects. Not only that, if you find yourself in these middle markets earning in the ballpark of $63,000, there’s strong evidence that training and certifications can lead to steady raises of as much as $40,000.
4 Salary Considerations for DevOps Architect
DevOps architect is one of the most challenging IT jobs to describe. It’s even harder to describe a roadmap to making it a career. If you’re early in your career, you might be looking for the mile markers to aim for and if you’re late in your career, maybe you want to convert your time and experience into a DevOps architect role. No matter where you find yourself, you should know how to become a DevOps architect and get yourself into the higher salary ranges.
Experience is one of the first things that determines a DevOps architect’s salary: you need breadth as well as depth to be successful. Certifications go a long way to proving and validating that experience, and DevOps architects with certain certifications get paid better salaries than their counterparts without certs. Of course, knowing the tools of the DevOps trade and the specific tools your company uses is crucial as well.
Experience Requirements for DevOps Architect
A DevOps architect is often one of the most highly valued members of a team because they’re able to draw on their knowledge and familiarity from many different jobs and positions. A DevOps architect has to understand the inner workings of a company and how to convince leaders and juniors of the best ways forward. Software developers and engineers find DevOps architects with some experience in development easier to trust, just like systems and network engineers prefer DevOps architects with experience in operations.
At the heart of a DevOps architect’s responsibilities is the software development lifecycle. No matter what job experience a DevOps architect has, they must know how their organization defines the lifecycle. If the company has a CI/CD pipeline, they need to understand it thoroughly — if there is no CI/CD pipeline, they have to be prepared to implement one.
The position of a DevOps architect is made even more challenging because they’re usually responsible for championing a DevOps transformation at an organization, but not from a position of formal authority. A great DevOps architect salary comes from being a person who can convince non-IT leadership as well as IT personnel why the entire picture of development and ops should change. It requires soft skills like communication and leadership that are anchored in deep technical expertise.
5 DevOps Tools You'll Need to Know
The list of all the DevOps tools you could ever learn is nearly endless. And the list of tools a DevOps architect should learn is only a little bit shorter. Your chances at the best DevOps architect salaries increase with each tool you master. For example, continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) is a pillar of DevOps, and there are a dozen tools and pieces of software for doing that alone. We’ve narrowed our list of essential DevOps architect tools to five, but you should think of these as the tentpoles that hold up your career.
It’s tough to imagine a DevOps architect who doesn’t know what GitHub is, but maybe you’re just starting your career and haven’t run into a “git repo” yet. GitHub is a platform for developers to work on code together. With GitHub, teams as small as one and as large as hundreds can collaborate together on code and manage their versions easily.
Salary impact of GitHub on a DevOps architect’s salary: Huge. DevOps and GitHub are fundamentally linked. A DevOps architect who doesn’t know how to manage a GitHub repository, make a commit or decide company-wide best practices can’t do the core part of their job. There’s more to GitHub than knowing how to use it, though, and a DevOps architect who knows how to teach GitHub and integrate using it into a company’s processes gets one step closer to truly great salaries.
Docker is a tool for packaging up an application with everything it needs to run so that it all goes out together. That way, no matter where it ends up, the development team can be sure it’ll run right away, without worrying about the destination environment or operating system. A DevOps architect has to understand how to package an application with Docker or a similar program, often called “containerization” because they’re usually the one responsible for planning it for a company.
Salary impact of knowing Docker: Huge. It’s hard to imagine a DevOps architect who doesn’t know what Docker is or how to implement it being competitive for a high-salary position. Docker — or a tool a lot like it — is simply essential for companies looking to deliver a stable and reliably executable software package every time.
Kubernetes is a containerization platform that’s also fundamental to most DevOps implementations. You might see Docker and Kubernetes on the same list and think they’d compete, or that by learning one you’re learning the other — not so. Kubernetes and Docker aren’t adversaries. A DevOps architect who understands how to use Kubernetes in tandem with Docker can unlock load balancing, storage orchestration, automated rollouts and rollbacks, automatic bin packing and a ton more.
Salary impact of Kubernetes on a DevOps architect’s salary: Huge. It’s the third “huge” on our list so far, but it’s still true: a DevOps architect who doesn’t know Kubernetes simply isn’t competitive for a high salary. Kubernetes unlocks containerized workloads and services, when combined with Docker, it’s an incredibly powerful tool for a company.
When it comes to managing multiple servers, Puppet is a DevOps architect’s best friend. A DevOps architect shouldn’t just understand what Puppet does to define a system’s software and configuration infrastructure as code, they have to know how to plan an implementation of Puppet throughout their development pipeline. A DevOps architect who wants to earn a great salary isn’t just a technical expert in using tools like Puppet, but is experienced with the implementation and planning of them.
Salary impact of knowing Puppet: Considerable. Not every company needs Puppet specifically, but infrastructure as a code is central to many DevOps implementations. A DevOps architect who doesn’t at least recognize Puppet can’t be sure they’re qualified for senior positions that will pay the highest salary.
Jira started as a bug-tracking software — meant to flag recurring issues for development teams to address. But over time it evolved into a work management tool and was eventually adopted into many agile development pipelines. If you’re a DevOps architect, you can shape the entire workflow of your company around Jira. From kanbans to scrums and even simply content management, Jira opens many career doors for DevOps architects to walk through.
Salary impact of Jira on a DevOps architect’s salary: Considerable. Probably more important for a DevOps architect than knowing Jira backwards and forwards is knowing what Jira does and why. Jira is just one of the best tools for what it does, it’s not perfect for every company. Justifying a high salary as a DevOps architect requires demonstrating judgement: choosing an alternative when it’s right and not forcing every problem into a Jira-sized hole.
6 Best Certifications for DevOps Architect
The term “DevOps” catches a lot: from that first line of code to decommissioning a legacy application, a successful DevOps architect is able to speak the language of both application developers and operations teams. There are many certs that prove mastery of each step of the way.
AWS Certified DevOps Engineer — Professional
This AWS certification for DevOps Engineers straddles the two pillars of AWS’ certification track: Operations and Development. It validates a DevOps engineer’s ability to manage CI/CD systems, security, metrics, high-availability and automation on AWS.
Impact of AWS Certified DevOps Engineer — Professional on a DevOps Architect’s salary: Significant. Obviously the name suggests that the AWS Certified DevOps Engineer is meant for engineers, but AWS doesn’t offer a higher certification for implementing DevOps practices within AWS. So if your company uses AWS or you want to plan how to implement AWS, a DevOps architect with their AWS Certified DevOps Engineer — Professional is demonstrably qualified for a good salary.
Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert
This Microsoft certification doesn’t only apply to Microsoft tools and software, but it’s most relevant to a role that designs and implements strategies for collaboration, code, infrastructure, source control, CI/CD, testing and feedback using Microsoft infrastructure. For some companies, that’s a DevOps engineer, but for savvy professionals, it can lead to a DevOps architect’s bigger salary.
Salary Impact of Microsoft Certified: DevOps Engineer Expert: Significant. The skills tested by the DevOps Engineer Expert certification are exactly what any decently sized company needs from their DevOps architect, if that company relies on Microsoft technologies already. The technical expertise of the DevOps Engineer Expert cert is what a DevOps architect’s confidence, leadership and forward-thinking strategies relies on, and it’s how they justify a higher salary.
Architecting with Google Compute Engine Specialization
This certification is offered by Google to the professionals designing, developing and managing cloud-based solutions that drive business objectives. The cert is offered by Google Cloud, so obviously the solutions you’d learn about will be oriented on Google infrastructure. But a DevOps architect’s skills and knowledge have to be broad and encompass the many different tools and services available to a company to accomplish its goals.
Impact of the Architecting with Google Compute Engine Specialization on a DevOps Architect’s salary: Considerable. Sometimes a DevOps architect has to focus on the tools that their company is already using, and sometimes they have to challenge themselves to learn the tools that are available in the marketplace in case a company ever wants to use them. Google Cloud offers compute resources, an app engine, virtual machines, storage, load balancing and more. These are key ingredients for a DevOps implementation. Learning everything Google does can improve your chances at a good salary by making you a more broadly capable and familiar DevOps architect.
Cloud Native Computing Foundation Kubernetes Certifications
The Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) is a part of the nonprofit Linux Foundation, and they’ve developed a series of certifications aimed at standardizing knowledge and use of Kubernetes. There are three CNCF certifications for anyone who works in DevOps to choose from: Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA), Certified Kubernetes Application Developer (CKAD), and Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS). They’re not cheap. Each is $300, but having one or all of them demonstrates mastery of that area of Kubernetes.
Salary impact of CNCF Certified Kubernetes Certifications: Considerable. The CNCF Kubernetes certifications aren’t designed for DevOps architects, but they’re certifications that a DevOps architect should earn at some point. Kubernetes is central to the way many companies do DevOps, and a DevOps architect with at least one of these would be trusted as a subject matter expert.
What Type of Companies Need DevOps Architects?
Software development is where companies are hungriest for DevOps architects, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many other industries willing to pay big salaries to bring a DevOps architect over. Plus, many industries and companies are racing to model themselves as a highly agile environment.
The thing that separates a DevOps architect from a DevOps engineer is often their mindset. DevOps is a workflow and a state of mind before it’s a set of tools. A DevOps architect who can convince a company to think differently about their entire workflow and then solve all the problems that come up in implementing it will find a good salary no matter where they look, not just in software.
Software Development Companies
DevOps and all of the productivity methodologies that are related to Agile are based in software development at their heart. The trend started in, accelerated within and was popularized by the software industry, and it’s also the natural home for a DevOps architect. That also means it’s the most competitive field for a DevOps architect to seek work in.
Career impact of working in software development: Huge and complicated. We learned earlier that the most competitive job markets for a DevOps architect are also the ones most likely to pay the best salary, but this is a double-edged sword. On the positive side, the salaries for a DevOps architect are likely to be a lot higher in the software development industry, plus most of the industry doesn’t have to be convinced about the value of DevOps. On the other, it might take far more training, certifications and experience to differentiate yourself from other DevOps architects who’ve all come up in the software industry.
DevOps may have cut its teeth in software, but hardware manufacturers were paying attention too. A lot of the same benefits and drawbacks exist in hardware manufacturers — they’re already familiar with DevOps and it’s highly competitive. But there are substantial differences between the two. Hardware manufacturers ship physical objects that they can’t just rollback. A DevOps architect’s job in the hardware industry would feel pretty different from their software counterparts.
Career impact of working for hardware manufacturers: Big. The idea of Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines are exciting for many hardware manufacturers. Also, incorporating feedback into design is an age-old problem in hardware, and DevOps architects who can promise a pipeline that makes more agile, responsive, resilient hardware will receive high salaries for their trouble.
Content and Service Providers
The differences between a company like Adobe (a software developer), Hewlett-Packard/HP (a hardware manufacturer) and Netflix (a content platform) may seem like splitting hairs, but for a DevOps architect, they should look very distinct. A DevOps architect’s job is to spot places where a pipeline for automation, integration, and feedback can optimize the end product. Content and service providers are constantly looking for that, and need to scale their services upward and downward rapidly — in ways that hardware manufacturers and software developers often don’t. The best salaries for DevOps architects wait for those who can provide agility to a company no matter the industry.
Career impact of content and service providers: Significant. Service providers and content delivery platforms are still within the software/hardware ecosystem, so they can typically understand DevOps and offer a career path for DevOps architects. Some of them wish to take on a very agile problem-solving methodology, and a DevOps architect who can help plan and implement one for them can look forward to a great salary.
How to Increase Your Salary as a DevOps Architect
The career of a DevOps architect is usually one of creativity, thoughtfulness, courage and curiosity. If you want to become a DevOps architect, or if you are one and want to earn the best salary, the trick is paying close attention to where DevOps already exists and where it needs to be. Learn the tools that make a good DevOps pipeline function best — but get to the underlying “Why?”.
Everyone lower than a DevOps architect on the organization chart is responsible for being proficient with the tools they use. What makes a DevOps architect different, and what justifies their high salaries, is the ability to think creatively with all the DevOps tools and technologies that exist and which apply in a certain situation.
DevOps architects aren’t one-trick ponies, they’re bold leaders, persuasive communicators, creative problem-solvers and bold technical experts. The road to the best salary for a DevOps architect lies through experience — and the fastest way to get there is certifications in the many tools, services and architectures that are available.