The real inflation: growth in engineering salaries over the last year

Pave Data Lab
November 24, 2021
min read
Pave Data Lab

Everyone is talking about inflation right now, but the real inflation happening is in compensation. 

Over the last year, venture funding hit an all-time high, and startups are aggressively hiring across the board to accommodate rapid growth.

At the same time, COVID helped employees realize that work can happen from anywhere, and people are quitting their jobs in search for more flexibility. With the Great Resignation in full swing, startups are doing whatever it takes to beat the competition and win over top talent, starting with offering attractive base salaries. 

While it’s a candidate’s market all around, it’s an especially amazing time to find a role in software engineering, machine learning, data engineering, and DevOps. Our data shows just how much salaries are increasing for these roles year over year.

What the data reveals

Software engineers are having a great year: according to our data, median salaries for software engineers across the United States are up $10,000 YoY on average—a 7% increase from 2020.

But software engineering salaries aren’t even the fastest growing this year. Machine learning salaries are up by $25K YoY (a 17% increase), while DevOps salaries are up $18K YoY (a 12% increase), and data engineering salaries are up by $15K YoY (a 10% increase).

How it impacts hiring

If you’re hiring engineers, keep in mind that candidates have more generous wiggle room to negotiate their salaries no matter where they live. Higher startup valuations means candidates are walking away from larger and larger equity packages, priced when the market was not nearly as hot.

We're seeing companies ditch localized cash compensation and benchmark against some of the more expensive markets in the United States to stay competitive (more on this in a future post), but understanding and keeping up with the breakneck pace of the market is the first step in attracting and retaining new employees.

Don’t miss out on top talent

Times are changing quickly. If you’re benchmarking for engineering roles based on data from a year ago or even six months ago, you’re already behind the curve. Staying up to date with a real-time benchmarking tool can help you stay competitive in this unprecedented market.

In the coming weeks, we’ll share how other startup roles, like product, sales, and marketing, are changing year over year. 

Learn more about Pave’s end-to-end compensation platform
Pave Data Lab
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