It’s no secret that big data is the future—in fact, it is already very much integrated and needed in many of the products, services, and systems in our society today. That means there is huge potential to make big bucks as a big data engineer.
Typically, a big data engineer is not an entry-level position, so it’s a good idea to get your feet wet in other data professions before pursuing a big data engineer role.
In 2020, the Dice Tech Job Report stated data engineering to be the fastest growing job in technology with a predicted 50 percent year-over-year growth in the number of open positions. . This guide offers a look at big data engineer salaries and job market expectations.
Big data engineers are professionals who are responsible for developing, maintaining, testing, analyzing, and evaluating a company’s data. “Big data” refers to the sweeping amount of data sets that companies collect in everyday business operations. A big data engineer interacts with data processing systems and databases to extract the data and transform it into workable sets that can ultimately be used to improve an organization’s efficiency, profitability, and scalability.
It is easy to confuse data engineers, data analysts, and data scientists, who all work with data in different ways. Data engineers build and maintain the systems that collect and extract data, while data analysts analyze this cleaned-up data to generate meaningful insights and solve business problems. Data scientists are the ones who build new algorithms to make predictions about the future. Read more about the difference between data analysts and data scientists.
Learn more: What Is a Big Data Engineer? A 2022 Career Guide
The average salary for big data engineers in the US is $109,650, according to Glassdoor . However, salaries can be affected by a range of factors including location, industry, and experience. Below are additional salary estimates from popular job boards.
Where you live (or where your company is based) can impact how much you can make as a big data engineer. Typically, working from bigger cities like New York and San Francisco means a higher salary, to accommodate higher costs of living. But as companies continue to shift toward a more remote workforce, some of them may offer location-based salaries, while others remain commensurate with experience levels.
Here’s a sampling of big data engineer salaries in large- and medium-sized cities across the United States:
|City||Average base salary (Glassdoor)|
|San Francisco, CA||$113,142|
|New York, NY||$106,985|
|Los Angeles, CA||$104,664|
|Des Moines, IA||$97,006|
And salaries in some popular tech markets:
|Country||Salary (Glassdoor)||Salary in USD (April 2022)|
Salaries may also differ depending on your nationality and the country you choose to work from. While digital nomadism is on the rise, many tech companies in the US still do not allow employees to work permanently from another country.
It may be attractive to work in Portugal, Thailand, or Costa Rica, but you may need to be comfortable taking a pay cut if you are employed by a company based in any of these countries.
Read more: 15 Jobs that Allow You to Travel
Nearly every industry today uses big data, so there is a huge demand for big data engineers to harness that data to drive decision making. But not every industry pays the same. Knowing which ones pay more can be beneficial for your career.
Tech companies are popular to work for because they tend to pay well. Meta, for example, ranges $102,121 to $206,158 for big data engineer salaries, while Google pays between $110,984 to $208,747 [4,5].
You can find big data engineering roles in many high-earning industries. Finance and insurance; professional, scientific and technical services; information technology; management; and manufacturing make up over 75 percent of data job openings, according to The Quant Crunch, an IBM report on the demand for data science skills .
One of the factors that can influence your salary is your experience level. Generally, the more years of experience you gain as a big data engineer, the more you’ll earn. Here’s how experience can impact your salary, according to Glassdoor .
2-4 years, Data Engineer: $114,196
5-7 years, Lead Data Engineer: $149,520
8+ years, Principal Data Engineer: $167,083
8+ years, Director of Data Engineering: $201,657
8+ years, Vice President (VP) of Data Engineering: $202,595
In each of the roles above, “Senior” can be tacked onto the front of the job title and usually indicates a higher salary, typically of a few thousand extra dollars.
Many big data engineers start off in other entry-level positions, such as software engineers, business analysts, or data analysts.
As you advance in your career, you might move into managerial positions or become a big data engineer, and then progress as you gain experience.
Before and after you step into a role as big data engineer, there are plenty of opportunities to work in big data and engineering. Here are a few of their expected salaries, according to Glassdoor.
Data analyst: $62,364
Business intelligence analyst: $72,224
Business analyst: $77,682
Database administrator: $82,838
Data engineer: $92.179
Software engineer: $101,910
Data scientist: $104,537
Machine learning engineer: $107,566
Data architect: $129,183
Big data is being used across all industries, including manufacturing, government, and agriculture, to inform business decisions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) places big data engineer under statisticians and computer and information research scientists, which have projected job growth of 33 percent and 22 percent respectively between 2020 and 2030 [7, 8]
Additionally, more than 80 percent of companies surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report said they’d be using big data by 2025. In the same report, data engineer is ranked third for jobs with increasing demand across industries 
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1. Dice. “Dice Tech Job Report, http://marketing.dice.com/pdf/2020/Dice_2020_Tech_Job_Report.pdf.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
2. Glassdoor. “How much does a Big Data Engineer make?, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/big-data-engineer-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
3. IBM. “The Quant Crunch: How the Demand for Data Science Skills is Disrupting the Job Market, https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/3RL3VXGA.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
4. Glassdoor. “Meta Big Data Engineer Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Meta-Big-Data-Engineer-Salaries-E40772_D_KO5,22.htm.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
5. Glassdoor. “Google Big Data Engineer Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Google-Big-Data-Engineer-Salaries-E9079_D_KO7,24.htm.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
6. Glassdoor. “Big Data Engineer Career Path, https://www.glassdoor.com/Career/how-to-become-big-data-engineer_KO14,31.htm.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
7. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Mathematicians and Statisticians, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/mathematicians-and-statisticians.htm.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
8. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Computer and Information Research Scientists, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-and-information-research-scientists.htm.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
9. World Economic Forum. “The Future of Jobs Report 2020, https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020.” Accessed April 28, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.