February 8, 2017

Wanted (Badly): Big Data Engineers

George Leopold

Big data engineers head a list of top IT jobs in 2017, second only in terms of salary range to Internet of Things architects and among the leaders with respect to available job openings over the last 12 months.

According to the job placement specialist Randstad, annual salaries for big data engineers range from just under $122,000 to $159,800. On a list of the five top IT jobs in 2017, only salaries for IoT architects were higher, peaking at more than $162,000.

Job growth for big data practitioners soared over the past year by 92 percent as employers scrambled to find qualified engineers with expertise in data analytics specialties such as Hadoop, Spark, Hive and Java. Along with application development certification, a growing number of big data positions require government security clearances, indicating that federal agencies and their contractors are embracing big data technology.

The Bay Area of California continued as the hottest job market for data engineers, followed by Minneapolis, Washington, DC, and Dallas, in that order.

“The growth of the IT field due to advancements and innovation has led to an increased need for big data engineers who build and maintain the data processors for companies across the country,” the Randstad survey noted.

The report confirms surging demand for data scientists, engineers and analysts as a range of industries embrace big data but struggle to harness soaring data volumes. The data science skills gap has fueled a growing list of graduate-level data science programs at U.S. universities, many with corporate sponsorship.

For example, Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies this week announced an online master’s program in predictive analytics. The graduate curriculum focuses on “advanced data analysis, predictive modeling, computer-based data mining, and marketing, web, text, and risk analytics,” the university said.

Nearly every other top IT job in the Randstad survey includes a data science or related programming component. In the most sought-after category, IoT engineers, skills requirements included Java programming as well as cloud computing expertise. The number of available jobs for IoT engineers soared 113 percent over the past year, the jobs site reported. The hottest employment markets were Austin and Dallas, Texas.

Rounding out the list of top IT jobs in 2017 in order of salary range were security engineers, “full stack” framework developers and virtual and augmented reality developers.

Overall, salaries for IT engineers ranged from entry-level wages of $87,350 to $131,150 at the high end. Randstad reckons that at the end of October 2016 there were more than 373,000 openings in the U.S. for IT experts.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for IT professionals at the end of 2016 was 2.6 percent, compared to the national unemployment rate for non-manufacturing jobs of 4.7 percent.

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