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Platform Engineering / Tech Culture

It’s Official: Platform Engineers Earn More Than You

Not only is platform engineering a top technology trend, people in this role command a significant salary advantage among IT talent.
Dec 12th, 2023 6:47am by
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Featured image by Viacheslav Bublyk on Unsplash.

In the rapidly evolving world of technology, hiring strategies can make or break you when it comes to staying competitive — especially with the ongoing war on talent. So we’re super excited for our big reveal.

A new champion has emerged in the field of engineering salaries: platform engineers. According to the latest findings in Humanitec’s State of Platform Engineering Report Vol 2, this relatively new entrant is already making big waves, outpacing its DevOps counterparts in earnings. This revelation not only highlights the increasing value of platform engineering, it also sets the stage for a deeper look into its growing prominence in the tech industry.

Platform Engineering: A Top Technology Strategic Trend

Recently named a Top Strategic Technology Trend by Gartner for both 2023 and 2024, platform engineering sits at the peak of Gartner’s Hype Cycle. For many organizations, it’s transitioned from an emerging trend to a new standard. This recognition comes not only from Gartner but also from CNCF, Google, Microsoft and many others. And it underscores the critical importance and snowballing influence of platform engineering in shaping the future of technology.

Platform engineering’s rise is largely shaped by its approach. It’s the perfect blend of software development, operations, product management (platform as a product) and infrastructure. But this multifaceted discipline is not just about technical know-how; it’s about driving standardization and automation to enhance overall productivity and efficiency in software delivery processes. As platform engineering continues to gain momentum, companies are rethinking their approach to software development and operations.

Survey Insights: The Salary Gap

The Platform Engineering 2023 survey, which primarily targets the United States and Europe, shines a spotlight on the current technology pay gap. In the US, platform engineers enjoy a staggering 42.5% salary advantage, averaging an additional $65,439 over their DevOps counterparts. Europe sees a similar trend (to a lesser extent), with platform engineers earning 18.64% more. That’s equivalent to an extra $15,871 annually​.

Bar chart showing platform engineers earn more than DevOps

Source: Humanitec

Note: Data aggregated is based on the description of what respondents say they work on. Platform engineering was aggregated from platform engineering and developer experience. DevOps was aggregated from infrastructure, DevOps setup and ops.

This significant salary difference could be due to the demanding nature of platform engineering. Unlike traditional ops and DevOps roles, platform engineering demands a broader and often more specialized skill set. These professionals are not just bridging gaps between software development and ops. Nor do they simply solve team or individual problems. Much more than that, their work impacts the entire organization, innovating and shaping the platforms that, if built well, lead to shorter time to market by unblocking developer and ops bottlenecks.

Impact of This Salary Trend

Awareness of this salary gap has far-reaching implications for the tech industry. For one, it may influence the career trajectories of aspiring engineers, nudging them towards specializing in platform engineering. It may also get companies thinking about the need to reassess their hiring strategies and salary structures to attract and retain the very best talent.

This trend also signals a potential shift in employment dynamics within the tech sector. As the demand for platform engineering expertise grows, roles could realign, with more focus on finding skills that cover wider technological breadth and depth.

Get Salaries Right and Stay Competitive

Our report findings highlight the ever-growing importance of the platform engineer role. The fact that they’re leading the way in terms of earnings is a trend every engineering organization should sit up and pay attention to. Not only does it reflect their potential to impact the entire business and cut time to market, but, for some organizations, it signals the need to seriously rethink recruitment strategies and secure the right people with the right skills and stay ahead of the curve.

Explore Humanitec’s full report for more insights into the state of platform engineering.

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