Main image of article 5 Highest-Paying Technology Specialties in Atlanta

If you’d like to live in a city where you can increase your earning power, Atlanta might trump Austin or even Silicon Valley. Atlanta was one of the few U.S. cities where tech pros achieved salary growth (5 percent) in 2017, according to the Dice Salary Report. Even better, the Atlanta region experienced the eighth-highest increase in tech wages (15.7 percent) from 2011 to 2016, according to an analysis of the top-50 tech talent markets in the U.S. and Canada by real estate firm CBRE. Of course, professionals trained in the most in-demand fields usually command the highest salaries. Atlanta employers are paying top dollar to attract and retain talent in these five specialties.

Language-Agnostic Software Engineering

While software engineers are in demand pretty much everywhere, Atlanta employers are willing to shell out as much as $140,000 a year for a professional who has a history of utilizing a wide array of computer programs, libraries and tools to solve business problems. The software engineers with the highest demand and greatest earning potential aren’t tied to a particular product or vendor, explained Ari Waller, chief recruiting officer for Thompson Technologies. They leverage open-source software and often have experience with Java, .NET, and the popular JavaScript frameworks Angular and React. “The most marketable software engineers may have started out in a traditional role, but they have expanded into emerging areas such as Big Data or the cloud,” he said. “Not surprisingly, most of them have acquired additional skills while working in collaborative, non-siloed environments.” Software engineers who specialize in artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning are also commanding ever-higher salaries, according to Anthony Oliveto, director of talent specialists at 3Ci. “It’s one of the fastest-growing subspecialties in software engineering,” he said. “We’re seeing increased demand from employers in all major industries across Atlanta, but especially from retailers.” 

Next-Generation IT Architecture

The most sought-after IT architects not only have a deep understanding of infrastructure; they use their knowledge to support traditional development processes or applications that are designed and built expressly for the cloud. “The IT architecture roles that pay $130,000 to $150,000 require some coding experience,” Waller said. “Top earners have usually worked with Java or Python and have experience in a DevOps environment.” Experience with Windows PowerShell can also increase your appeal (and your pay).

Java Development in the Cloud

Java developers who have the ability to create and deploy applications in a cloud environment, such as AWS, can command top-of-range salaries between $100,000 and $120,000. (Just for comparison’s sake, the median salary for Java developers in Atlanta is $87,793, according to Top earners typically have CS degrees and/or engineering backgrounds, and they market their services to large companies in Atlanta that have the means and desire to pay more for qualified talent.

UX Research

Over the past two years, Atlanta recruiters have seen rising demand and salaries for UX researchers. These highly skilled pros employ usability testing and a wide variety of qualitative and quantitative methods to decipher customer needs and pain points. They also interface with engineering, marketing and product designers, and influence UI design. Because their performance has a clear and measurable impact on customer acquisition and retention, market share, sales, profits and so forth, UX researchers with just two to three years’ experience are scoring offers in the $60,000 to $75,000 range, while senior researchers in the Atlanta area are being offered $120,000 to $150,000.

Certified Scrum Masters

Demand is strong for certified scrum masters across all industries in Atlanta. These Agile experts, who act as “servant leaders” for product owners and development teams, ensure that everyone understands and adheres to the theory, rules, practices and values that define scrum. Top-paid scrum masters don’t just understand the technical side; they are able to connect with business leaders and developers, and deliver a true and measureable impact on key business initiatives. “They turn lines of code into dollars,” Oliveto explained. On average, Atlanta employers are willing to pay $100,000 to $120,000 to a certified scrum master whose work contributes to the organization’s goals and bottom line.