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 These posts contain previously unpublished Salary Survey data.
Just the term "AI" has a romantic allure that lights up even the most mundane of contexts. As mundane, for example, as a web page describing a certification: "Artificial intelligence (AI) opens doors into possibilities that might have seemed like science fiction only yesterday." That particular starry-eyed summation is from a Microsoft Learn certification page.
More specifically, it's from the page for Microsoft Certified: Azure AI Fundamentals, which checks in at No. 40 on our most recent Salary Survey 75 list. Azure is the Microsoft cloud computing platform, but this particular credentials promises to provide relatively broad coverage of basic AI concepts and processes.
Here’s what the salary picture looks like for Azure AI Fundamentals holders who responded to the Salary Survey:
All U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $116,090
Median Annual Salary: $93,750
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 13 percent
Very Satisfied: 17.4 percent
Satisfied: 35 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 34.6 percent
Not At All Satisfied: [No responses]
All Non-U.S. Respondents
Average Annual Salary: $56,890
Median Annual Salary: $43,750
How satisfied are you with your current salary?
Completely Satisfied: 4 percent
Very Satisfied: 10.5 percent
Satisfied: 40.8 percent
Not Very Satisfied: 25 percent
Not At All Satisfied: 19.7 percent
The largest single body of Azure AI Fundamentals holders to participate in the survey is made up of residents of the United States (30.3 percent of respondents). The rest of the Azure AI Fundamentals holders we heard from are spread across 31 other countries: Afghanistan, Albania, Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, France, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, United Kingdom, and Vietnam.
The IT industry is typically dominated by male professionals, but an notable digressive chunk of the Azure AI Fundamentals holders we heard from — 18.2 percent of those surveyed — are women. A more routine 79.6 percent of respondents are men, 1.5 percent chose not to identify their gender, and 0.7 percent are transgender female. Somewhat against type, the Azure AI Fundamentals survey cohort is notably youthful, with 67 percent of those surveyed either between the ages of 19 and 24 (2 percent), between the ages of 25 and 34 (28.3 percent) or between the ages of 35 and 44 (37.4 percent). The next-largest group is credential holders between the ages of 45 and 54 — 26.3 percent of respondents — with those remaining either between the ages of 55 and 64 (5 percent) or between the ages of 65 and 74 (1 percent).
A notable 86 percent of the Azure AI Fundamentals holders who responded to the survey have an educational background that includes time spent at a college or university. The highest level of education completed by most Azure AI Fundamentals holders is either a bachelor’s degree (45.5 percent of respondents), master’s degree (also 27.3 percent), associate’s degree (4 percent), doctorate (5.1 percent), or professional degree (3.9 percent). The remaining 14-ish percent of Azure AI Fundamentals holders either topped out with some level of post-high school technical training (6.1 percent) or departed the realm of formal education after graduating from high school (8.1 percent).
Employment among Azure AI Fundamentals holders is relatively shaky, with just 72.3 percent of credential holders employed full-time. The remaining roughly 27 percent of those surveyed are either in part-time positions (12.4 percent), are students (2.9 percent), are on sabbatical (5.8 percent), or are out of work (6.6 percent). For most respondents, full-time employment means a regular work schedule of either between 41 and 50 hours per week (33 percent) or the standard 40 hours per week (36.1 percent). Out of the remaining 30-ish percent of those surveyed, 14.4 percent work between 31 and 39 hours per week, 11.3 percent put in more than 50 hours per week, and a fortunate 5 percent have a full-time work schedule of either between 20 and 30 hours per week (2.1 percent) or fewer than 20 hours (3.1 percent).
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reshuffled workplaces worldwide in 2020, and there’s strong evidence of that here: A notable 34 percent of the Azure AI Fundamentals holders we heard from are spending their entire work schedule at home, with 17.5 percent working beneath the same roof that’s overhead when they sleep at night for more than 40 hours per week, and a further 16.6 percent doing so for 40 hours per week. The rest haven’t entirely separated from their cubicles (or corner offices), working from home either between 31 and 39 hours per week (16.5 percent of respondents), between 21 and 30 hours per week (16.4 percent), between 10 and 20 hours per week (15.5 percent), or for fewer than 10 hours per week (17.5 percent).
In terms of workplace standing, the largest single group of Azure AI Fundamentals holders we heard from are employed at the senior specialist level (22.7 percent). The rest, in descending order, are either senior managers (19 percent of respondents), managers or specialists (both 14.6 percent), rank-and-file employees (13.1 percent), directors (10.2 percent), or executives (5.8 percent).
A core 29.2 percent of Azure AI Fundamentals holders who responded to the survey are relative IT newcomers, having worked in a role that directly utilizes one or more of their certified skills for between 3 and 5 years. The rest have been plying their certified skills for either between zero years (1 to 11 months) and 2 years (26.3 percent of respondents), between 6 and 8 years (13.1 percent), between 9 and 10 years (5.1 percent), or for more than a decade (26.3 percent).
Finally, here’s the view of Azure AI Fundamentals holders on key questions from the survey about how certification impacts job performance:
At my current job I use skills learned or enhanced through certification:
Several times a day: 34.3 percent
Several times a week: 41.6 percent
Several times a month: 8.8 percent
Occasionally: 8 percent
Rarely: 7.3 percent
Since becoming certified, I feel there is greater demand for my skills.
Strongly agree: 32.1 percent
Agree: 36.5 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 19 percent
Disagree: 2.9 percent
Strongly Disagree: 9.5 percent
Becoming certified has increased my problem-solving skills.
Strongly agree: 39.4 percent
Agree: 39.4 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 14.6 percent
Disagree: 3.6 percent
Strongly Disagree: 3 percent
Becoming certified has increased my workplace productivity.
Strongly agree: 29.3 percent
Agree: 41.6 percent
Neither Agree nor Disagree: 18.2 percent
Disagree: 5.1 percent
Strongly Disagree: 5.8 percent