Salary Survey Extra: Big Data salary and formal education
Posted on
July 27, 2017

Salary Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Salary Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.

Do Big Data professionals with college education make more money?

There are frequent arguments in information technology circles regarding the (ahem) degree to which it is (or, in many cases, is not) essential to get a college education on the way to launching an IT career. Is it critical to get a bachelor's degree or master's degree, or can you learn what you need to know by other means?

While a college degree can prove beneficial, of course, it's certainly not impossible to establish a successful career with no college education. One benefit of college, on the other hand, that's often hard to quantify is that employers tend to pay better for college-educated professionals, particularly when hiring a new employee.

In all of our surveys, we ask respondents to identify the highest level of formal education they have completed. Given that our most recent Salary Survey PLUS canvassed certified Big Data professionals, today's mission is to examine the link between Big Data salary and formal education. Do certified Big Data professionals with more formal education earn higher salaries?

We divided survey respondents into two groups: Big Data professionals who live in the United States, and Big Data professionals who live in all non-U.S. countries. Here's what we learned:


Highest Level of Formal Education Completed Percentage of Survey Respondents in This Category Average Annual Salary
High School Diploma N/A N/A
Technical Training (No college) 6 percent $59,170
Two-Year College Degree 10 percent $105,830
Bachelor’s Degree 38 percent $114,210
Master’s Degree 38 percent $124,560
Doctorate 8 percent $115,830

2017 Salary Data


Highest Level of Formal Education Completed Percentage of Survey Respondents in This Category Average Annual Salary
High School Diploma 9.9 percent $44,170
Technical Training (No college) N/A N/A
Two-Year College Degree N/A N/A
Bachelor’s Degree 42.8 percent $57,500
Master’s Degree 41.3 percent $67,840
Doctorate 6 percent $71,875

2017 Salary Data

Among U.S. professionals, it seems clear that college education, even just at the level of an associate's (two-year) degree, adds significant earning power. It's also the case that, as educational attainment increases, there's a corresponding rise in average annual salary. Another interesting note: Except for a handful of certified professionals who topped out at the level of technical training, nearly all of our U.S. respondents (94 percent of those surveyed) have some form of college degree.

Outside the United States, on the other hand, there's a notable group of certified Big Data professionals who climbed the educational ladder no higher than a high school diploma but are still working in the industry. Bachelor's degrees and master's degrees, on the other hand, are even more commonplace than in the United State. The same general salary trend also prevails: greater educational attainment = higher salary.

At least where Big Data is concerned, there's a clear indication that aspiring professionals would be well-advised to at least consider getting a college degree before entering the field.

About the Author

Certification Magazine was launched in 1999 and remained in print until mid-2008. Publication was restarted on a quarterly basis in February 2014. Subscribe to CertMag here.

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