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Data Engineers in 2022: The 10 Best Paying U.S. Cities

Data engineers, who are tasked with developing the algorithms that let businesses extract value from all the data they collect every day, are commanding total compensation of up to $403,612. And California is the place to be for the highest compensation.

Go West, Young Data Engineer

In the 1960s sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies,” when Jed Clampett accidently shot a hole in the ground that resulted in the discovery of oil, his kinfolk, according to the opening song, said,” Jed, move away from there. ... California is the place you outta be.”

California today is also the place you outta be if you are a data engineer dealing with what The Economist in 2017 called the world’s most valuable resource: Data. Data, in particular the extraction of valuable information and insights from the mountains of data nearly every company collects, has become the lifeblood of those companies, and indeed the “oil” that keeps businesses growing.

Data engineers are tasked with developing “big data” strategies within a business or organization, managing and governing data, preparing data for both operational and analytical tasks, and developing algorithms that help enterprises derive full value from their data.

“It’s the role of a data engineer to store, extract, transform, load, aggregate and validate data,” according to a job description by data consulting firm phData. They build data pipelines and efficiently store data for tools that need to query data. They analyze data to ensure it adheres to data governance rules and regulations. And they understand the pros and cons of data storage and query options.

Blind, an on-line community of over 5 million professionals who communicate with their peers, said its members identified the cities where data engineers get the best total compensation, including cash salaries, stock-based compensation, and bonuses, with nine of the top 10 cities in California. (Altogether the list includes average total compensation for data engineers in 48 cities.)

And how much compensation do those engineers command? According to the Blind community, it ranges as high as $403,612 on an annual basis.

When Horace Greeley supposedly wrote in 1865 “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country,” he never would have dreamed how much the young men – and young women – of the 21st Century who chose data engineer as their career would do so well.

For a look at the top 10 cities in the U.S. in terms of salaries and total compensation for data engineers (both average and median), click through

No. 10: Seattle

Seattle and its environs, home to Microsoft, Amazon, Tableau, Cray, and other big tech companies, is the lone non-California city ranking in the top-10 of the Blind ranking.

The average total compensation for data engineers in Seattle is $196,013. The median total compensation in the city is $180,000.

The average salary for data engineers is $130,761, with the city having a median salary of approximately $133,000.

No. 9: San Jose, Calif.

San Jose is home to multiple tech companies and others generating huge amounts of data, including Cisco Systems, Western Digital, Sanmina, PayPal, Adobe, and GlobalLogic.

Data engineers in San Jose are receiving an average total compensation of $200,281 and a median total compensation of $172,200.

Data engineers in the city receive an average salary of $148,171 and a median salary of $135,500.

No. 8: Palo Alto, Calif.

Palo Alto, where Hewlett Packard got its start in a garage in 1938, is a long-time tech hub. And while its successor company Hewlett Packard Enterprise has moved its headquarters from the city, a lot of other companies are generating data in Palo Alto, including HP Inc., VMware and Tibco Software – all headquartered there.

Data engineers in Palo Alto are seeing average annual total compensation of $205,613 and median total compensation of $183,000.

Average data engineer salary is $152,780 and the median salary is $167,000.

No. 7: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Sunnyvale is home to NetApp, the IT industry’s largest independent storage vendor and a cloud infrastructure powerhouse. Google, Apple, Amazon, Juniper Networks, Applied Materials, and Lockheed Martin Space Systems all maintain a large presence in the city.

Sunnyvale data engineers command an average annual total compensation of $209,477 and median total compensation of $197,000.

Data engineers in the city are earning an average salary of $154,546 and a median salary of $155,000.

No. 6: Santa Clara, Calif.

Santa Clara counts multiple tech and other large companies within its borders including Intel, Nvidia, Applied Materials, AMD and ServiceNow.

The average annual total compensation for a data engineer in Santa Clara is $212,642, according to Blind, while median total compensation is $194,337.

The average data engineer salary is $161,705 and median salary is $162,500.

No. 5: Mountain View, Calif.

One of the world’s largest data generators, Google parent Alphabet, calls Mountain View home, as do Intuit and the NASA Ames Research Center. Other top companies including Microsoft, Symantec, LinkedIn, Samsung, and more have large a major presence in the city.

Data engineers working in Mountain View are getting an average total compensation of $220,913 per year and median total compensation of $204,000.

Those data engineers are seeing an average salary of $162,674 and a median salary of $160,000.

No. 4: San Francisco

The City by the Bay is home to many major businesses for whom data is an important part of their operations including Uber, Fitbit, Wells Fargo Bank, Visa, Airbnb, Craigs List, Dropbox, Salesforce, Twitter and Yelp.

Data engineers working in San Francisco can command an average total annual compensation of $225,935 and a median total compensation of $193,000.

Data engineers in San Francisco earn an average salary of $158,190 and a median salary of $156,000.

No. 3: Cupertino, Calif.

Cupertino is perhaps best known as the location for Apple’s headquarters. But several other large companies generating the kind of data that data engineers work with include Seagate Technology, SugarCRM, Packeteer, and technology advertising giant CKS Group.

The average total annual compensation of a data engineer in Cupertino is $230,421, according to Blind, while the median total compensation is $245,000.

Data engineers in Cupertino earn an average salary of $163,395 and a median salary of $160,000.

2. Menlo Park, Calif.

Menlo Park is home to the headquarters of Meta, the parent company of social media giant Facebook – which you can be sure generates a lot of data. The city also has a dense concentration of finance and investment firms such as Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, Silver Lake, Benchmark, Bessemer Venture Partners, Khosla Ventures, Llightspeed Venture Partners, Menlo Ventures, GE Ventures, U.S. Venture Partners, and others.

For a data engineer based in Menlo Park, the average total annual compensation is $253,645 and the median total compensation is $250,000.

Data engineers in the city see an average salary of $169,198 and a median salary of $165,000.

1. Santa Monica, Calif.

Interestingly enough the city in California – and in the entire U.S. – where data engineers will find the highest total compensation is not in the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Bay area, but in the “Silicon Beach” area to the east of Los Angeles. Silicon Beach includes a wide area from the beaches of Los Angeles County to several miles inland, with the center generally considered to be in Santa Monica. Santa Monica itself has attracted data-driven businesses in the film and music industry and gaming business including Hulu, A&M Records, Activision Blizzard, Bad Robot Productions, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Lionsgate, Xbox Entertainment Studios, Universal Music, and more.

Head a few miles east of Santa Monica and there’s Hollywood, Culver City, Glendale, and other cities at the heart of the movie-making business, a business which perhaps generates as much data as any and, in turn, has the greatest demand for data engineers.

Data engineers in Santa Monica are rewarded with an average annual total compensation of $403,612 and a median total compensation of $442,000.

The city’s data engineers earn an average salary of $168,312 and a median salary of $180,000.

 

 

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