Cybersecurity analyst showing colleague important project information

Data engineers are vital to an organization’s ability to store, process, and analyze data for crucial insights. A typical data engineer must prepare enormous datasets for use by data analysts and data scientists, often with data from multiple sources (websites, points-of-sale, and much more). It’s a complicated profession—but also a high-paying one. Where are data engineers paid the most?

For an answer to that question, we can turn to Blind, which surveys anonymous technologists about a range of issues. Blind has crunched the data on which metro areas pay data engineers the most in median and average compensation, along with median and average salary. Here’s the breakdown of the top 15 cities:

To see how (or if) your city ranked, check out Blind’s full list. On a national level, Blind’s data suggests the compensation for a data engineer ranges between $94,000 and $403,612, depending on factors such as experience and skill-set (yes, that’s a pretty wide range). According to Dice’s most recent Tech Salary Report, the average data engineer made $117,295 in 2021, a year-over-year decrease of 1.1 percent; that’s a tad behind data scientists, who made an average of $120,650, and data architects, who made $128,835.

If you’re interested in a data engineer job, you’ll need to possess some core technical skills, such as the ability to work with data warehouses, data APIs, Apache Spark, Docker, and ETL tools; many jobs also require working knowledge of programming languages such as SQL and Python. During a job interview, you’ll face questions about your mastery of database migration, whether you’ve built a distributed system, and much more. 

As with other data-centric jobs, “soft skills” such as empathy and communication play a significant part, as data engineers will frequently need to explain what they’re doing to stakeholders (such as executives) who might not have an idea of how data-related processes actually "work.” If you can master the technical and “soft” aspects of the job, there’s no reason why you can’t unlock superior compensation and benefits.