Kubernetes jobs: 11 salary stats to see

Kubernetes jobs go by many titles, which makes it hard to unearth reliable compensation data. We’ve done some salary statistics homework for you
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When it comes to negotiating your salary, the more information you have at your disposal, the better. But that can be a bit tricky in the emerging job market for IT pros with Kubernetes skills. Aside from that whole “emerging market” thing, it can be challenging to unearth reliable compensation data because Kubernetes jobs go by many titles.

If you’re negotiating your salary for a Java developer role, Google is your friend. It’s a common position (with an equally common title, including variants like Java programmer), and you’ll quickly find various data on pay, such as Glassdoor’s national average, as fodder for your own discussions. This might not be scientific data per se, but it’s still the stuff of talking points at the bargaining table. And it’s readily available.

[ Read also: Kubernetes job interview questions: How to prepare. ]

Production experience with Kubernetes is hot – and getting hotter.

With Kubernetes roles, not so much. Type in Kubernetes and … then what? Kubernetes engineer? It (and variations) of this title are popping up with more regularity, but they’re far from ubiquitous. A “Kubernetes job” might just as likely have a title like “software engineer” or “infrastructure engineer” or… well, at least a dozen others.

Still, there’s information out there; you just need to do a little digging. We went ahead and did that for you to save you some time. Keep in mind that salaries (and other forms of compensation) tend to vary significantly based on factors such as location, industry, experience level, and so forth. But these numbers should give you a sense of the demand for people with Kubernetes skills – especially those with production experience.

Here’s a hint: It’s hot, and getting hotter. So let’s dig into some numbers.

$144,245: The national average salary for Kubernetes jobs as of May 2019, according to ZipRecruiter. If that seems a little high, even by tech industry standards, it might be: That average appears to include any role that lists Kubernetes as a required or desired skill, even if it’s not the core competency. That also means it includes some high-level (and high-paying) roles that may bump the overall average higher. While the number speaks to the growth and interest in cloud-native development, orchestration, automation, and other fields, keep in mind it’s encompassing a wide range of positions and experience levels.

$168,000: As an example, this is LinkedIn’s salary estimate for an open position at Capital One for a senior software engineering manager, machine learning. LinkedIn estimates total compensation at $189,000. The role is included in ZipRecruiter’s results for Kubernetes jobs. That position lists a preference for someone with 2+ years experience with a container management platform like Kubernetes, and the company notes it’s hiring multiple positions in cloud and machine learning domains, but it’s not a core requirement for the position.

[ Read also: How to explain Kubernetes Operators in plain English and How to explain Kubernetes in plain English. ]

$117,000: This is the average salary for people who possess Kubernetes as a skill, according to Payscale. That’s based on 363 data profiles on the site. While that’s a far cry from, say, the 30,586 data profiles for Linux, the latter had a bit of a head start. It’s still a solid sample size, and not that far behind some other specific tools or languages. Go (or Golang, if you prefer) has 1,094 data profiles on the site, for example.

18,539: The number of positions returned in a LinkedIn jobs search for “Kubernetes.” That’s up from 16,774 at the start of this year.

9,866: The number of positions returned if you conduct that same search on Indeed, up from 8,338 in January.

15,449: The number of positions returned if you conduct that same search on Glassdoor. That’s up from 11,847 in January. From a salary negotiation standpoint, regardless of a particular role, it’s safe to say that Kubernetes-related hiring is growing.

[ Read also: Kubernetes jobs hunt: How to land that role ]

How to negotiate a Kubernetes job salary

Kubernetes Engineer, a relatively new title on the job market, isn’t guaranteed to stick.

Well over $100,000?: Deciding what to negotiate for with these salaries can be tricky. Here’s an example: The food delivery app DoorDash is hiring a Kubernetes Engineer, a relatively new title on the job market – and one that isn’t guaranteed to stick, especially if companies opt to fold Kubernetes skills into broader titles such as DevOps engineer or SRE. Regardless of how titles shake out, it’s tougher to find a reliable number for what this role might pay – though given its Silicon Valley location, the safe bet is over six figures.

Here are some other examples of salary estimates for Kubernetes-facing roles that will vary by location, title, and plenty of other factors – including those invisible to the naked eye:

$76,000-$104,000: The Glassdoor estimated salary range for a DevOps engineer position at Owlet Baby Care, a baby monitor company in Lehi, Utah.

$110,000-$148,000: The Glassdoor estimated salary range for a DevOps engineer position at Tuft & Needle, a mattress company in Phoenix, Arizona.

$101,000-$151,000: The Glassdoor estimated salary range for a software engineer - PaaS - Go/Python/Kubernetes/Docker role at Cisco in San Jose, CA.

$118,757: The Glassdoor salary estimate for a platform engineer role at Capital One in McLean, Virginia. The position will work on the firm’s managed Kubernetes platform and requires prior Kubernetes and Linux experience.

One thing is clear from our research: It’s nearly impossible to find Kubernetes jobs with low pay, or at least what most folks would consider low pay. There’s a visible market for people with Kubernetes chops, and it’s growing.

[ Kubernetes terminology, demystified: Get our Kubernetes glossary cheat sheet. ]

Kevin Casey writes about technology and business for a variety of publications. He won an Azbee Award, given by the American Society of Business Publication Editors, for his InformationWeek.com story, "Are You Too Old For IT?" He's a former community choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards.