What Should We Change About the Data Professional Salary Survey?

Last year, 2,899 of you filled out the 2017 Data Professional Salary Survey (results), so I figure we should probably do that again.

Here are the questions we asked last year. If there’s any changes you want to make, leave a comment and we’ll talk through it.

1. What’s your total salary in US dollars, ANNUAL BEFORE TAXES?

2. Your country: (dropdown list with countries) Last year, folks asked for a more granular location to make the results more meaningful. Of the responses, 1879 were US, 293 were UK, and Canada got 105. No other country broke 100 responses. For US/UK/Canada, I don’t think a list of states/provinces would be granular enough – for example, New York has a wide variation of salaries between Manhattan and upstate. How about we add an optional text entry box for postal code? Someone better at reporting than me might be able to build a reporting front end for that with the results. We won’t do any validation on the entered data, though – we can’t due to international addresses.

3. Primary database you work with: (dropdown list) Last year, I populated the list with the top 10 from DB-Engines.com (plus a couple of niche Microsoft products), but only MSSQL, Oracle, and PostgreSQL made it to double-digit response rates. Not surprising, given the focus of this blog. I’m going to do the same thing again this year, though, because the survey might get exposure to other platforms via blogs or whatever.

4. Years that you’ve worked with this database: (open)

We pay Richie in query bucks

5. Other databases you work with: (mark all that apply)

6. Job type: (pick one):

  • Full time employee
  • Full time employee of a consulting/contracting company
  • Independent consultant, contractor, freelancer, or company owner
  • Part time

7. Job title (pick one):

  • Analyst
  • Architect
  • Data Scientist
  • DBA (>1500 responses, so I’m going to break this out this year – more on that below)
  • Developer: App code (C#, JS, etc)
  • Developer: BI (SSRS, Power BI, etc)
  • Developer: T-SQL
  • Engineer
  • Manager
  • Other

8. Do you manage other staff? (yes/no)

9. Years of doing this job: (open)

10. How many other people on your team do the same job as you? 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, >5

If only our real currency was this awesome

11. How many database servers does your team work with? (open)

12. Highest level of higher education completed? (None, 2 years, 4 years, Masters, Doctorate/PhD)

13. If you have a college degree, is it computer-related? (yes/no)

14. Do you hold industry certifications? (No, yes but expired, yes and currently valid)

15. How many hours do you work per week, on average? (open)

16. How many days per week do you work from home? 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, >=5

17. Employer sector (pick one)

  • Private business
  • Education (K-12, college, university, etc)
  • Local government
  • State/province government
  • Federal government
  • Non-profit (new for 2018)
  • Student

18. Are you looking for another job right now? (No, yes but only passively, yes actively)

19. What are your career plans for the year 2018?

  • Stay with the same employer, same role
  • Stay with the same employer, but change roles
  • Stay with the same role, but change employers
  • Change both employers and roles

Discuss changes you want in the comments below.

If you want to add a question, keep in mind that we’ll cap this at 20 questions max – the longer surveys get, the less likely people are to fill the whole thing out. You need to make a really compelling case about why it would be useful for the entire population, not just a small subset.

If you want a fancy user interface, especially to pick a geographic location, remember that we’re doing this with Google Forms in order to keep costs down (free.) Don’t say something like, “You should build a web app that lets me point and click on a map to define where I am.” Find us something free or cheap that we can use as-is with zero development time, and I’m definitely interested.

How should we break out the DBA job? We had >1500 responses last year who described their job as “DBA,” but I think we should be a little more granular. I usually think of it as:

  • DBA (Development Focus) – tunes queries & indexes, does deployments
  • DBA (Production Focus) – build & troubleshoot servers, HA/DR
  • DBA (General) – splits time evenly between writing & tuning queries, AND building & troubleshooting servers

I worded it that way because I know a lot of DBAs who say “Oh I do everything,” but then when I drill down a little, they haven’t written an end-user-facing query in 5 years. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean it’s your job focus.

How should we ask/answer gender? There’s been some good conversation in the comments about why folks want to see the results analyzed by gender. Here’s a few articles about how to ask the question:

We only get one chance to ask/answer this question per year, so I wanna get this right for the community and make it as valuable to you as possible. Based on the above 3 posts, here’s what I’m thinking for the question & answers. Now’s your chance to tell me how to do it differently:

“To which gender identity do you most identify?”

  • Female
  • Male
  • Non-binary/third gender
  • Prefer to self-describe as ___ (open text box)
  • Prefer not to say

I know this question can be sensitive, so if you want to send me your feedback on this one privately instead of commenting below, feel free to email brento@brentozar.com. (Only for that question though – any other feedback needs to go through the public comments.)

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119 Comments. Leave new

  • Oooo. What about how much vacation they receive?

    • Ooo, good idea. We need to be specific with it because people will ask about paid vs unpaid vacation, government holidays, sick time, etc, and have the answer in the form of weeks, I guess? 1-2 weeks, 3-4 weeks, 5-6 weeks, more?

      • Perhaps narrow it down to “paid vacation in hours?”
        Or simply go with “paid time off in hours, per year,” as some employers just give a pool of hours for both vacation and sick time…

        • Jason – sure, but that would also need to include holidays. (Different companies & different countries honor very different holiday schedules.) That’s why I’d go for weeks rather than hours – if you calculate it all up, it’s probably bigger than you think.

          • True, but I’d expect most people wouldn’t look at paid holidays as “vacation time,” especially if it’s not coming out of their agreed-on vacation time. For instance, I accrue vacation time at 4hrs/pay period (26 pay periods,) or 104hrs/year. Holidays don’t come out of that time, so I wouldn’t even add them into that number (but I do have 10 paid holidays, so yeah, another 80-90hrs of paid time off.)

          • Jason – believe it or not, we had a lot of people ask about it last year. There was a big discussion on Twitter about how to track paid time off from work. (For example, folks asked whether paid training time, attending conferences, company retreats, etc should be counted.)

          • I think really it should be fairly easy to determine.
            If you’re doing something on the company dime, regardless of what (conferences, retreats, etc,) then it’s not “vacation” time.
            Vacation time is sitting on a tropical beach, sipping a beverage of choice and admiring the scenery, with your work phone (if you have one,) work laptop (if you have one,) left back home on the kitchen table or in the office, and any numbers you might get called from work on set to go right to voicemail on your personal phone. (Yes, I know, not everyone can disconnect that much, but it’s the thought that counts.)

          • Jason – unfortunately, for many folks, when they’re on vacation, they’re still on call. (Classic example: the only DBA in the shop still often brings their company phone just in case all hell breaks loose.)

            I’m glad it’s totally black-and-white for you, and I’m glad that you can disconnect that much. That’s the kind of vacation I find really valuable too! However, that’s not how it works for a lot of other folks, and I’m just relaying that message to explain why the question is hard to ask.

          • I would do days. That way you’re not doing “2.2” for someone that gets, for example, 11 days off a year.

          • Chris – it wouldn’t even be plain data entry. I’ve learned over time you can’t just give people numbers, heh, you have to give them ranges, like 1-2 weeks, 3-4 weeks, etc.

          • (He says to the only DBA in the shop right now…)
            Although I will admit where I work tends to be fairly strict about where my employer-supplied equipment can go when I’m not travelling on work business, so that helps somewhat.
            I’m still reachable (and have been called) on my personal phone when I’ve been on vacation.
            But I take your point.

            There’s no “perfect” answer for how to have people enter their information for this question. Maybe, although this does complicate things a bit, have a “free-input” field and a related drop-down so people can enter their paid-time-off in a format they prefer (say hours, days, weeks,) which can then be folded / mutilated / spindled into whatever format preferred when analyzing the data? Maybe even store it on the back end in *your* preferred format?
            Hmm. In which case, from the sound of it, you’ll just ask for “weeks of PTO” and be done with it…

          • Jason – right, exactly, remember that we’re doing this for free with Google Forms. Read the “If you want a fancy user interface” section of the post.

        • That won’t work in Belgium 🙂 We have paid holidays (which are our legal holidays + all public holidays) and overtime (if you work 40 hours a week, you get 12 days extra). There is no such thing as “sick days”. If you’re sick, you’re sick. There’s no limit on that. You get 30 continuous days where your employer pays your salary. Longer than that, social security takes over (the amount they pay is capped though). However, let’s say you recover after 25 days and you stay healthy for over 2 weeks, than if you fall ill again the counter is back at 0.

      • Don’t forget 0. I made a mistake at my current position and wound up with 0 time off. Within the first 4 months I am severely burned out!!!

  • You probably have enough questions, but it would be interesting to have a question about how HAPPY people are with their job or their career. I have a feeling that money and happiness do not correlate very strongly, but control (work from home, less overtime) does correlate.

    I’m sure I could make a heck of a lot more money being an on-call senior DBA. I’m also sure I would be a lot less HAPPY.

    • Eugene – yeah, that one’s tough to measure with numbers in a short survey like that. I don’t know that people would be well-qualified to give a number score to their happiness without me asking some much bigger questions, heh.

      • Is it though? I think you could nail the gist of it with a 5 point scale:

        1. I hate my job
        2. I am not happy with my job
        3. My job is okay
        4. I have a very good job
        5. I love my job, it is absolutely great

        • It doesn’t capture these classic situations that I’ve run into a lot:

          • I hate my job, but I love the health care benefits, and I can’t afford to leave, so do I really hate it?
          • I love my job, but I hate my manager, and I’m hoping he leaves soon and then things will be awesome again.
          • I love what I do, but I hate the environment that I’ve inherited from The Last Guy, and I’ll like my job more once I fix the servers up.
          • I hate my job, but I’m really thankful to have it right now due to my location restrictions.
          • I love my job because I don’t have to do anything anymore, I’m just coasting because I work for a government entity and I’m close to retirement.

          Just a few examples off the top of my head.

  • Monte Kottman
    December 6, 2017 9:00 am

    I think the DBA portion could be broken out even more:

    DBA (Development Focus) – tunes queries & indexes, does deployments
    DBA (Production Focus) – build & troubleshoot servers, HA/DR
    DBA (Sharepoint) – Completely different skill set.
    DBA (BI) – Ditto
    DBA (Reports) – Sometimes this gets lumped in with a generic DBA.
    DBA (General) – splits time evenly between writing & tuning queries, AND building & troubleshooting servers

    • Monte – can you elaborate more on the job duties for each of these folks? For example, what percentage of their time is broken up into the main, say, 3-4 job duties they do?

      * DBA (Sharepoint)
      * DBA (BI) – and how is this different from the Developer: BI (SSRS, Power BI, etc) role?
      * DBA (Reports) – and how is this different from the Developer: BI (SSRS, Power BI, etc) role?

      • In addition to Brent’s question, do you expect that those roles would have a significant difference in pay overall?

        • Eugene – for the Sharepoint one, I’m guessing it’d be higher since it’s a specialty, but there’s no way I’m adding that answer. The problem is that it instantly opens the door to every other application, like SAP, JD Edwards, etc, and we can’t list them all on a salary survey.

      • From what I’ve seen the SharePoint DBA isn’t what I would typically consider a DBA because they spend most of there time working with SharePoint and not SQL or SSMS. I suppose you could lump them into an Application DBA where they spend most of there time tuning one particular application.

        The BI DBA (to me anyway) is someone that does more ETL and SSAS cubes. And is more of a Data Warehouse person.

        The Reports DBA is someone that spend the vast majority of time working on SSRS or Crystal and building the sp’s and views that support it

        • Monte – bingo, they’re not actually DBAs.

          They’re data professionals, and there are job titles for that in the survey, but if they’re doing application administration, ETL, SSAS, or writing reports, then there are other answers already for those folks.

      • You may want to define the DBA(BI) and DBA(Reports) roles with products in addition to those in the Microsoft stack. For purposes of reporting granularity you might even want to list the non-Microsoft products as a different line item. It might be interesting to see the pay scale difference based on Microsoft vs. other products.

    • Monte,
      I think keeping it to the three options Brent posted would probably be better, as you’re not likely to find too many Oracle or PostGres DBAs working on SharePoint.

    • Craig Balsillie
      December 6, 2017 1:29 pm

      DBA (FireFighter) Supposed to be a DBA , but data quality issues, and application support issues amongst other issues combined with the constraints of a day only having 24 available hours prevent this.

  • – Number of years at current company?
    – Size of the data that you work with/manage?
    – Demographic info: gender, age, etc…

    • Tho – for each of those, can you elaborate more on what you’d do with the information, and what you expect to find?

      For the demographic info, can you point to a set of questions & answers we can use? (Gender in particular is little bit thornier than it looks on first glance.)

      • Hi Brent,

        Number of years at current position might tell us by something about job satisfaction. (When compared to number of years doing this, salary, are you looking for a new job?) Also, does loyalty at a company pay?

        Size of the data managed: This is sort of another way of asking how many databases you managed but I think would be more distinctive. (Big data, bigger problems, bigger pay?)

        Demographic. I’m not sure how to ask that question, but it seems like basic data every company tries to collect.

        • Tho – I’ll save you some research: no, loyalty at a company alone doesn’t pay. You’ll need to either grow your responsibilities and/or position, or change companies. If you stay in the same job doing the same thing at the same company for 10 years, you’ll be way behind your peers. (And I type that knowing that my own staff are reading it, too, but consulting can be different, although it isn’t always.)

          Size of data managed – the problem is that most DBAs don’t know it, and would take time to gather. (Honestly, most don’t even know exactly how many servers they have at this very moment without going to do some data gathering.)

          About the demographics – OK, go ahead and research that, and you’ll understand a little more about why I asked. 😉

  • Years of IT job experience. Although I’ve just become an official DBA this year, I have 20+ years of IT experience, and that makes a difference–I’m not starting as a junior DBA.

    Also, whether you hold any DBA related certifications.

  • Ok Brent, compelling case: include gender. By not including it, you’re putting approximately 30% (women in tech numbers nationwide) at the mercy of roughly less than 1% transgender. This hurts the women in tech movement, because some of us would like to know if we are underpaid so we can push for more money in future negotiations. Make it a text field, so feel can feel free to put whatever they want there.

    • Cyn – I’m going to ask a really dumb question: if you want to know if you’re underpaid, why do you need to know the gender of the other data professionals?

      Don’t you just want to know that you’re underpaid relative to people doing the same job, regardless of their gender?

      • You don’t have much data on the state of Utah. I can compare similar jobs in other areas, but the pay difference might be due to locale only. Being able to see if the database community as a whole is underpaying women by state would shed light on the problem.

        • Oh right, what a can of worms that would open. This isn’t about the transgender community at all, is it? Nevermind. Don’t ask gender. We don’t want the women in the SQL community to revolt.

        • Cyn Jo – ahhh, interesting. So, again, just playing devil’s advocate as if I were your manager: if you come to me and say, “Overall, women are X% underpaid,” I might ask, “Okay, but how are *you* paid relative to other people with the same level of experience?”

          It’s kinda like saying that on average, people with red hair are underpaid – one red-headed person can’t use that information alone to get a raise. (What if you’re already overpaid for the work you do, for example?)

          It sounds like based on the other comment that you left that you specifically want to get the “are women underpaid?” question answered. Great! Let’s do that, but to do it, I need to make sure I don’t come under fire from anybody. Let’s figure out the right way to ask gender in the survey to accomplish that, without opening another can of worms. How should we ask the question, and what answers should we give?

          (If you’re the one who wants this question, I need your help to pull this off.)

          • I would be interested in gender results as well but in addition to gender impact on salary, how gender does affect access to training, promotions and desired projects? On a general level, I am curious how many women are out there in DBA roles vs data scientist roles. Also, could there be a question about career plans…how long people plan to remain in the DBA role vs moving into management or other tech fields? How long do women stay in one role longer than men or is the tenure about the same? I realize I’m throwing a wide range of gender topics at you, but it’s a timely subject. (and you asked)

          • About DBA vs data science – given the super-low turnout we got on data science (I think we had 6 responses), I wouldn’t count on good data there.

            About promotions and desired projects – we don’t track those in the salary survey. They’re definitely interesting, just not sure how I’d craft those as questions.

            About planning to stay in the DBA role – oh, that’s interesting. How would you craft the question and answers? (Remember, it can’t be an open-ended text answer – it’s just too hard to analyze that.)

          • Re: data science. When I went to the Grace Hopper Conference this year, data science was the new, shiny, sexy technical skill that employers wanted. They were tripping all over themselves to find those employees. The hiring projects for that field are incredible, but their skill sets are different that DBAs so they may not be watching your blog and know about your survey.

          • Lynn – yeah, agreed, data scientists shouldn’t be reading this blog. Heck, DBAs shouldn’t be reading this blog, ha ha ho ho!

          • And regarding future career plans, maybe the question should be limited to plans for 2018 and be worded along the lines of…”In 2018, what is your desired career development?” with answers such as 1) I plan to remain with my current employer, 2) I plan to remain with my current employer in hopes of receiving a promotion, 3) I plan to investigate opportunities with other employers in hopes of finding a new job using my same skill set, 4) I want to make a vertical career move with a new employer, 5) I plan to change careers and employers.

            I’d like to see this broken down by gender and current career tenure.

          • Lynn – oooo, I adooooore that. That’s such a great question. To condense the answers down, how about these:

            What are your career plans for the year 2018?

            • Stay with the same employer, same role
            • Stay with the same employer, but change roles
            • Stay with the same role, but change employers
            • Change both employers and roles

            In terms of breakdowns, we leave all reporting to the readers. We just give you the raw data. After all, y’all are data professionals too. To use a horrible catchphrase, we report, you decide. 😉

  • If you included zip code, I would never fill out that field. Filling in my zip code basically tells you who my employer is. Even state starts to be questionable (there are 7 states with only 1 representative in the US House, meaning they all have a population of roughly 1 million or less, not a lot of tech employers).

    • Wyatt – oh totally, I agree, postal/zip would have to be optional. The people who work in very dense locations (NYC, LA, SF, etc) will be more likely to fill it out because their salaries & cost of living is higher, and they’ll be filtering for folks in that area anyway.

  • The employer sector list you have wouldn’t include the nonprofit hospital that I work for. I can’t think of anything outside of nonprofits that would be excluded.

  • Brent,

    I like the improvements. I would suggest adding company size: Less than 100 employees, 100 to 1000, 1000 to 10000, more than 10000. I am curious how the small and medium shops compare to the Fortune 500’s.

    Also, to get a bit more granular on location, could you have a State dropdown – if the user selects United States? I think this would help aggregate more than an optional zip code. I don’t know if a simple rule like this is feasible for your project.

  • For the major responding countries, I would be curious of breakdown by sub-region and, possibly, a checkbox for major metro area. For example, there is huge pay disparity (rightfully so) between San Francisco/Bay Area and Fresno (180 miles away). ‘Metro Area’ could be defined by a region (city/county) population.

    Also, and this may have been mentioned, is industry.

    • What about the first digit of zip code? That breaks the survey respondents into 9 regions.

      • About the zip code – we’re just going to do an open text box where folks can put in as much or as little of their zip code as they want. It’ll be up to the folks writing reports to figure out how to leverage that data. I wish we could do something more ambitious like dropdowns with country, region, state, metro area, etc, but it’s just not an option with Google Forms or a hell of a lot of work. I need to keep this one simple given the volunteer time that we’ve got.

  • Alan Cranfield
    December 6, 2017 11:22 am

    with the move to cloud I think something like this: Is your Infrastructure: Majority on-prem; hybrid; Majority cloud.. Also, which Cloud perhaps…. AWS, Azure, GCE, Oracle, Other.

  • Two suggestions:

    1. Please add non-profit to Employer Sector. I had a hard time knowing what to choose last year, since this wasn’t an option. Sure, it’s technically “private” – but it’s absolutely the truth that nonprofit work runs at a different pay scale than for-profit.

    2. If zip code/postal code is too granular for some, what about first 3 digits of zip code? This can be used to determine a smaller area than state, but still a more general area than one that may have just one employer in it.

    Thank you for doing this annual survey!

  • Robert McCormick
    December 6, 2017 11:31 am

    I like the idea of a question about PTO/Vacation time. My new company (spin off from previous company) has a new category of PTO called VPTO. We get 2 extra days Paid Time Off if the time is for volunteering for an approved charity.
    My request would be to update the Employee Sector (Question 17) to include industry. (or have a separate question related to industry. i.e. a drop down with choices like: Healthcare, Manufacturing, Education (K-12), Higher Education, Banking/Finance, Insurance, Communications, Transportation, Government, Retail, Hospitality, Other. You get the idea.

  • I’d be interested to know in which industry their company identifies, e.g. – Healthcare, Financial, Retail, Government, etc.

    • Chad – we have “Employer sector” in there already for private vs government, but the population in the survey isn’t really enough to generate valid information by vertical.

  • David Chamberlain
    December 6, 2017 11:50 am

    I would suggest parlaying the zipcodes into metropolitan statistical areas (MSA). I think google could help with the specifics, reference table.

    I am tempted to advise you to write a query to join them on zipcodes as an attempt at humor, but it would probably come off wrong, so I won’t. 🙂

  • I would want to know from which metro area they are from?

  • As a “jack of all trades” type (DBA, dev, analyst, architect), I’m wondering if the Job Title could be broken into 2 questions: single choice for Primary Area of Work / Job Title, and multiple choice for Other Areas of Work? Also, maybe clarify what you mean by Analyst and Architect – or have Data Analyst, Systems/Software Analyst, Data Architect, and Systems/Software Architect. That gets you a database vs. non-database breakdown for analysis.

    • Dave – ooo, that’s an interesting way of doing it. I like splitting it into two questions.

      Once you start going into “Systems/Software Analyst” vs “Systems/Software Architect,” distinctions start to be pretty tough in a fast survey. Last time, we let people pick “other” and then type in their own title, and we got some really odd stuff.

      • Yeah, it gets kinda blurry. I just gave those because the sample had Analyst and Architect as distinct items above. Maybe you split it for Data Analyst vs. Data Architect, then have one option for Systems/Software Architect and/or Analyst?

  • What about on-call status? Might be hard to break it down, but I suspect a lot of the 6 figure DBA jobs require an on-call rotation.

    • We talked about that last time, too – I think it’s actually the opposite. The higher you go up the ladder, the less you’re doing break/fix operations, and the more you’re doing strategy. How should we ask the question? (Keep in mind that you can’t have any free text entry boxes – people are wildly incompetent with that kind of thing.)

      • To me, the question is when can I turn off my cell phone with breaking out in a cold sweat.

        1. No On-call
        2. Available during vacation for emergencies (business hours)
        3. On-call rotations (after hours or weekends)
        4. On-call 24×7 (a.k.a living hell)

        Admittedly I haven’t been on-call enough to know if those are reasonable buckets.

  • To break out DBA, you should have an option for a part-time or accidental DBA (meaning they perform some other function along with being the DBA). And if they are part-time you might want to ask hours/week or a percentage of time; beyond that, you need to ask what other job do they have (manager, software developer, etc). For instance, at one time I was told to spend no more than 10 hours per week doing DBA work and focus more on software development. At another company, I was the IT Manager and the only DBA, but obviously could not spend 100% of my time being a DBA.

    • Del – about part-time & some other function – in that case, salary isn’t really relevant for the DBA part. For example, if you’re primarily a sysadmin and you do 10-20 hours of DBA work as an ancillary function, then you really need to take a salary survey for your primary job function.

      • Brent, there is relevancy to the part time DBA role, though I understand your point. For instance you could have someone titled in a DBA role, who spends 50% of their time as a DBA but 25% as a Dev and 25% as a SAN admin which could skew the salary high. Similarly, the budding accidental DBA could be spending 50% of their time acting as a DBA, without the title/salary and the rest of their time as a desk-side tech. In either case, that person could easily complete the survey because they THINK they are a DBA and skew the results.

        • Peter – I hear you, but the answer on that one is going to be no. The survey is called the Data Professional Salary Survey, and I need to draw a line on scope at some point. This isn’t for help desk, sysadmins, etc. There are plenty of other IT salary surveys out there – this is specifically targeting a market that I haven’t seen served well by other surveys.

  • Maybe for US/UK/Canada, you could include something like a yes/no if you’re considered to be in a in a metro-area for a state/city. I would think that might allow even some comparisons between metro areas in states.
    Although it wouldn’t account for those who cross state lines.

  • Ralph Schwehr
    December 6, 2017 1:02 pm

    Benefits such as retirement. Government agencies usually offer more generous retirement than private organizations. Employer paid family / individual healthcare is another expensive benefit.

    • Ralph – here’s the catch: you have to write the question & answers. (You can’t let people freely enter data about things like benefits – you won’t be able to analyze the results.) So how would you craft that?

      • If you wanted to do it, retirement benefits question could be “Select all retirement benefits provided by your employer” or “Select the retirement benefits in which you participate” (2 different meanings; I’d probably go with provided). Options would be 401k/403(b)/457 with no match, 401k/403(b)/457 with employer match, Defined Pension, and Other. This would be multi-select (checkboxes). Then another question for “Select the types of healthcare coverage provided by your employer” and options of Medical, Dental, Vision, Pharmacy. Checkboxes again.

        • Dave – the problem is that a lot of what you’re saying is US-only, and this is a global survey.

          The challenge with retirement & health care is that just saying you get it isn’t really enough either: retirement & health care can be so wildly different from one company to another. (Copays, matching, etc.)

  • I seem to remember you got some weird results last year that you attributed to people putting in an hourly rate vs a yearly salary, so maybe an option that is hourly vs salary and then an amount?

    • Eric – nah, we’re going to just make it more obvious that it’s annual. It’s hard enough dealing with conversions, heh. If we let people say hourly, then we also have to let them put in the number of hours per year they work, which gets kinda wonky.

  • Russ Mulvaney
    December 6, 2017 1:50 pm

    Would you consider Education (higher-ed/k-12) under the employer option?

    • Russ – yeah, that makes sense because the salaries there are so unusual. I’m going to just put Education though. (Don’t want to pile up too many checkboxes.) Unless you’ve got a really good reason as to why we should separate out K-12 vs college?

      • Think of the potential pay difference between a DBA at Chicago Public Schools vs. the University of Chicago.

      • Think of the potential pay difference between a DBA at Chicago Public Schools vs. the University of Chicago.

  • Employee Sector – Would it be possible to add Education? Some surveys say Education, or break it down between Higher Education and K12 Education. I think in survey, just having education would probably be enough.

  • I’d be curious if/how DBA’s receive raises? I would hope that DBA’s, from a salary increase perspective, aren’t treated any different than other employees, but would be curious how much a DBA’s salary has increased over the past 5-10 years. Once you have enough survey data, you could do the math yourself, but I’d wonder how much an individual (who does not receive a promotion) see’s their salary increase on merit alone.

    • Ooo, interesting – how do we ask that question in a way that makes sure we’re isolating it to no job duty changes? For example, if someone just changed job titles into full time DBA, or got promoted from junior to senior, or changed companies?

      • Yeah… I realize that’s tough. Maybe something like: “Over the past 10 years, irrespective of a job role change how much (per year) has your salary increased (in %)?” You could further qualify that job changes (i.e. Individual contributor to manager) should not factor into your answer.

  • Brian Beuning
    December 6, 2017 2:45 pm

    I like the collecting zipcode suggestion.
    Did you know the fed provides a zipcode text file that
    includes average salary reported on tax returns there?

  • Reitse Eskens
    December 7, 2017 2:33 am

    Hi Brent,

    About the zip-codes, that would be fun if non-us residents would fill that one 😉

    A sort of subquestion about the databases we work with would be something like ‘What database would you prefer to work with if SQL Server wouldn’t exist”. Those results would be nice to cross-reference against the db-engines.com website.

    From an end-user perspective, can you state that an SQL Azure database is the same as a SQL Server on-premise database, the only difference is the connection string. The end-user being a gender-neutral living entity who’s able to type the statement ‘select * from [table_name]’

    • Reitse – yes, that’s why I said optional box for postal code.

      About the “if SQL Server wouldn’t exist” – I don’t see the business value in adding that question, and there’s some seriously tough competition to add new questions here, so I’m going to take a pass on that.

      And no, a SQL Azure database is definitely not the same as a SQL Server on-premises database. Try a cross-database query with three-part names and let me know how that works out for you. 😉

  • Andrej Kuklin
    December 7, 2017 4:26 am

    A couple of suggestions from a not US-resident:
    1. Please, make it very clear (bold underlined) that you’re asking for total _annual_ salary _before tax_. There were many folks last time which understood it differently.
    2. Job type: Please, add “part time”. This would give the opportunity to compare apples to apples (full time to full time). Part time can be scaled based on answer to question 15 (number of working hours per week) or filtered out.
    3. Please, make ZIP code just a text field (not bound to US format). In Germany a ZIP code can be 66113, and of course it makes much difference whether you’re working in Munich with an average annual salary of a senior DB developer of 85K Euro or in Dresden with an average of 56K Euro.

    • Andrej – ooo, absolutely great feedback! I agree on all of ’em. I can’t bold/underline things, but I’ll do all caps. I made the changes in the post. Thanks!

  • Shane O'Neill
    December 7, 2017 7:00 am

    Can we add in “DBA (Junior)”?
    It would be interesting (for me) to see the discrepancies between “Junior DBA with X number of Years” versus “DBA with X number of Years”
    I would be surprised if there wasn’t a difference due to Job Title.

  • Mala Mahadevan
    December 7, 2017 8:46 am

    Brent, i know this is not a question that is easy to phrase – but would you consider asking what is the nature of your work – like is it task oriented, projects, managing people, or perhaps what is the mix? I know you have the question on title but title does not have ot relate to actual work. Am seeing a great many jobs that advertise to be a certain way and even pay high salaries but work is not equivalent. Just a thought. thanks.

    • Mal – hmm, I’m open to it, but I would need *you* to phrase the questions & answers, and then the community can talk through it. (Just only so much work I can put into these, and I don’t wanna put a lot of work into a question & answers only to hear someone go, “No, that’s not what I was thinking,” hahaha.)

  • Malathi Mahadevan
    December 7, 2017 10:05 am

    I think in of itself it will help to see how many people have big chunks of say, project work versus tasks, or does the person have a large chunk of people related work if his title is ‘manager’. Or if he is a consultant is he doing more of projects or something else. But if we don’t have percentages on any ohter question that kind of analysis may be siloed to this one question. Another way to pose the same question may be , what do yo uthe most of from below? That might integrate well with other questions.

    • Mal – no, I mean with 3,000+ rows, how are you going to analyze the data? What does that query or tool look like? I’m not sure this is going to be valuable raw data when people can pick any percentage number. Do you maybe want a checkbox list of tasks instead?

  • I’d be interested to hear raise(s) as a % over the past 12 months. Maybe clairify raise vs promotion/job change.

    • Phil – can you word the question & answers exactly the way you’d want to see them? (I just don’t wanna guess at wording and then have someone say, “No, that’s not what I meant.” Thanks!)

      • Along the lines of
        Raises you have received in past year as a percentage of Total salary. Your role/job description should have remained the same during this period so the % is performance based not promotion based. Answer should be a % NOT a dollar amount.

        Answer could be a free form box…

  • For the UK, it might be helpful to break down location to London\Elsewhere. If I worked in London I’d expect to be paid 20-40% more – and have a much higher cost of living. So national averages aren’t so informative if I don’t know how skewed they are by people working in the capital.

    • Matthew – that’s why we have the postal code area. You’ll need to analyze that data. (We can’t break out cities in every country, unfortunately – the same thing happens in the US with different big cities, but like I wrote in the post, there’s only so much I can do in a quick/free Google Forms UI.)

  • Most degree courses in the UK are 3 years long – I’m not sure how that maps to an equivalent US length, but three years is typical for a bachelors degree here.

  • Another one to add in is Security Clearances yes/no. From what I have heard more firms are requesting this due to a lot of the leaks that have been in the news.

  • From my comment on the men/women pay gap article from this year–I would love to see demographic information about race and ethnicity included. The wage gap by race/ethnicity is larger and closing more slowly than the men/women gap, and I would like to see this analyzed as well.

  • Nereida Woolen
    August 29, 2018 2:48 pm

    Got my attention, Thanks.


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