What Should We Change About This Year’s Data Professional Salary Survey?


Every year, we run a Data Professional Salary Survey here. Thousands of y’all have answered – here are the past results in Excel – and it helps everybody get a better idea of how overpaid they are. (Did I word that right?)

Here are the questions I’m planning to ask this year:

  • What’s your total salary in US dollars, annual before taxes?
  • Your country
  • (Optional) Postal/zip code
  • Primary database you work with
  • Years that you’ve worked with this database
  • Other databases you worked with in 2019
  • Job type: (FTE, FTE of consulting/contracting company, independent, part time)
  • Job title
  • (Optional) Other job duties
  • Do you manage other staff
  • Years of doing this job
  • At how many companies have you held this job?
  • How many other people on your team do the same job as you?
  • How many database servers does your team work with?
  • What’s the newest version of SQL Server you have in production?
  • What’s the oldest version of SQL Server you have in production?
  • Highest level of higher eduction completed
  • If you have a college degree, is it computer-related?
  • Do you hold industry certifications?
  • How many days per week do you work from home?
  • What is the population of the largest city within 20 miles of where you work?
  • Employer sector (private, government, non-profit, etc.)
  • What are your career plans for the year 2020?
  • To which gender do you most identify?

If there’s any changes you want to make, leave a comment and we’ll talk through it.

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50 Comments. Leave new

  • Joe Stefanelli
    December 4, 2019 8:30 am

    Perhaps include your earlier questions about:
    Does your company pay for training?
    Does your company pay for tools?

    • I try to minimize the number of questions to maximize completion rate. We added a lot of questions last year and completion just plummeted, so lemme turn it around on you and ask – do you think that data changed from past surveys? Can’t past survey data give you a rough idea of what percentage of people get paid for training or tools?

      • Joe Stefanelli
        December 4, 2019 9:38 am

        I see your point about completion rate. I wouldn’t expect the raw answers to change significantly, but I did think it might be interesting to see the answers in relation to the other questions. For example, do the people with industry certifications work for companies that pay for training? Are teams with higher numbers of servers deployed more likely to get tools to help?

  • one thing I’d change: force a standard for the salary: last year, there’s a few crazy Europeans that used . instead of , as a thousands seperator

  • Joe McBratnie
    December 4, 2019 9:10 am

    How about the softer benefits like bonus and vacation time? Where I am the PTO is 5 weeks not counting sick leave

    • Hmm, how would you format that question and answer? Like, what would the answer format look like in a way that you could do analysis on it?

      • I’d like to see a question on bonuses, since it greatly effects my take home pay.

        How much money did you receive from bonuses in 2019 (in US dollars)?

  • I would suggest adding health care as a employer sector, and perhaps asking for some indicator if you work primarily on a vendor supplied application (SAP, Epic, etc,), and in house app, or development.

  • I’d be interested in seeing the major metro area people work in – though I can see it could be hard to constrain this to contain useful data.

    I see questions:
    – (Optional) Postal/zip code
    – What is the population of the largest city within 20 miles of where you work?

    In my case, this may be misleading given the fact that I work > 20 miles outside the actual city, but still within the metro area.

  • Maybe add Science / Research as an Employment Sector? Lots of people use SQL server (and other DB’s) for astronomy research, genomics, oceanography, etc. Or would that fall under Education?

  • Daniel Johnson
    December 4, 2019 9:22 am

    Nothing really missing but some nice to haves.
    – A grouping of major metropolitan areas, (though I am sure most database pros can create that based on the Postal Codes).
    – a section for bonuses (I assume most just wrap it into salary)

  • Justin Swenson
    December 4, 2019 9:23 am

    Other interesting questions:
    — Industries you’ve worked in/with?
    — Previous job titles held?
    — Years working as an IT Professional (not limited to database work)?
    — Estimate of the average hours you work per week at your current position?

  • I’d like to see a question about age, to see if/when salaries start tailing away, and by how much.

  • A question about raises would be interesting to me–like % raise from last year or annual % raise if it tends to be the same every year…

    • Oh that’s actually kinda interesting – I just always thought about the market overall, as in, look at the salary numbers last year compared to this year. But the % raise might tell a different story: if someone’s not getting a raise, it might be because they’re underperforming, or their company is, or their area of the world is.

  • How many hours are you actually busy doing things related to your job title?

    • James – you’re not the only person who wears multiple hats. 😉 Everybody does.

      • Brent – I was actually coming at this from the opposite direction: my last two jobs, I’ve found it almost impossible to stay busy for 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. After I’d gone through all (well, maybe half) of your training, it was taking me ~6 hours a week to do all my work. Granted, I was getting stonewalled on forward planning stuff.

        Capturing this metric would also let you calculate hours of work per database and hours per TB.

  • Hey Brent – How long is the survey open? I have my Year End Conversation coming up in 2 weeks.
    -Jim (SFBG)

  • Would be interesting to see size of organization in user count in something like <100, 100-500, 500-2500, 2500-10k or whatever statistical groups would make most sense

    Application stack, ie pre-.net, .net, java, commodity apps

    operation types – 5×8, 7×8 e4x7 et

  • James Youkhanis
    December 4, 2019 11:12 am

    Does the organization offer training money?

  • Interesting ones that I would consider:
    1. Size of company.
    2. General Age of company (or binary startup/ established).
    3. Average length of job tenure (identify job-hopping and salary increases)
    4. Self-reported negotiation skills on a scale of 1-5 (This is generally proven to be correlated with salary).

  • I’m a triple minority – Native American woman with a disability. Curious about other minorities (besides gender which you have mentioned).

  • I think I would have a currency drop-down instead of asking people to convert their salary to USD – I believe in previous years people entered in their local currency without converting.
    I mean, or I’m really, really underpaid…

  • I see a comment that more questions -> fewer completions. I wonder if some existing questions could be worth eliminating? Some short analysis might identify questions to consider removing.

    It also seems like there’s no questions about the employees organization or management culture that probably could help identify whether other factors are influencing pay. Maybe because that might not fit well as a survey question, though. Things like is there a forced ranking system in the organization for determining pay vs a more flexible/less well defined comp structure? On scale 1-5, is your divisions budget For promotions set more by overall corporate performance (1) or exclusively by division’s performance?

    Could also be interesting to get some qualitative questions in here. Do you feel your performance reviews correlate with your pay? Do you feel your annual reviews accurately reflected your value to the org? Are there adequate resources in your area to make you effective at your job?

    • Derek – can you be more specific about the questions you want to add, and what the answers would look like? That’d help start the discussions. The more specific you can be, the more likely it is that your question would get added. (I’m not looking to craft more questions – I’m actually looking to edit down, heh.)

  • (name withheld, probably shouldn't make comments like that about a known company...)
    December 4, 2019 5:30 pm

    Can we have a question :
    “Are you primarily employed to manage these databases”
    i know that at my company, there is a data scientist, and an general IT support person (not sure of actual title) who manage the 3 databases. Nobody in the company is employed as a DBA … i’m not sure it’s even on anyone’s PD ..

  • It would be interesting to see how many people have dealt with rare (hopefully) issues, and how the environments where those issues have occurred are similar or differ.

    In the last year have you:
    – Dealt with database corruption?
    – Recovered a production server from a snapshot?
    – Recovered data because someone forgot the WHERE clause? (too specific?)

  • I was thinking it would be interesting to see in conjunction with the number of servers, “How much data is managed across the estate?”

  • How about something around job satisfaction and/or is the individual looking for a new job?

  • How about a question trying to determine the the % of dbs that are cloud based or now.

    Ideally we’d ask this about production dbs and separately about development dbs. I’d suspect the production % would be a lot lower.


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