Which Industries Pay Technology Pros the Highest Salaries?

Not all industries are created equal, at least when it comes to salaries. A software developer working for a public school district might not make as much as one employed by the aerospace industry, even if they have similar levels of experience and skill.

That’s not the fault of tech pros; companies within some industries have nearly infinite amounts of money to spend on talent (think financial firms or biotechnology), while others must balance out their need for tech pros with other budget and personnel concerns. An engineer or developer who takes $50,000 from a non-profit when they could earn $250,000 from a major defense contractor is probably driven by factors other than pay (such as a personal connection to the non-profit’s mission).

With all that in mind, here are the industries where annual salaries top $100,000, according to the newest Dice Salary Survey:

Compare that to government, telecommunications, e-commerce, manufacturing, and other areas where top salaries range between $80,000 and $90,000 per year.

Meanwhile, tech pros in these industries can expect to top out at under $80,000 per year:

You can immediately see a pretty startling discrepancy here: Whereas higher-paying sectors such as aerospace and utilities/energy have seen significant year-over-year increases (with some notable exceptions, such as banking and finance, which dipped 3.1 percent between 2017 and 2018), industries with top salaries of under $80,000 per year saw some pretty massive year-over-year declines.

Why is this? It’s a difficult question to answer, especially since the economy was generally on the upswing over the past two years. It might have less to do with the health of the industries themselves, and more with tech pros, who have seen their salaries level off between 2017 and 2018. There’s only so much that certain industries are generally willing (and able) to pay their tech pros, no matter how mission-critical their functions; whether because of general belt-tightening or some other reason, many industries decided to pay their tech pros a bit less heading into 2018.

2 Responses to “Which Industries Pay Technology Pros the Highest Salaries?”

  1. wageSlave

    Your top industries over $100,000 numbers are off by a substantial margin. The average tech worker in California’s aerospace industry makes about $125,000 with declining benefits. Someone fluent in DOS commands can make a career out of it. SQL skills equal a full day worker. Not exactly a high skill level required or cutting edge. Working conditions for someone with DOS prompt or COBAL skills get to work about two hours a day and are paid for eight. Day trading the balance with really fast internet speed. Overtime is rare.

    I know better than most how hard it is to get good numbers from this industry and the numbers in this article are not up to snuff. The defense industry wages have a tendency to mirror their government counterparts with some regional differences. I have connections to get federal government numbers, but California state workers has always been my focus. The data is free and easy.


    It is a scatter diagram with a good percentage making over 200 k down to the low 70K range. Most government entities publish pay scales, but that is not the data you want to use. The hiring rate is often outdated sometimes by decades while the person holding the position can be making double the hiring rate with longevity.

    It is a pretty evil way for sociopathic government HR department’s to bottom feed miserable unhappy tech workers that passive aggressively work two hours and get paid for eight. HR price fixing is the norm with HR professional using sites like CUPA to coordinate their price fixing efforts.


    You have to have a login to see the good stuff now. They don’t want to be too obvious. It is after all a violation of Sherman Anti-Trust to price fix. Even for state, county, and city government entities.

    Getting good localized wage numbers is not easy and your numbers are reporting the low side. If you’re interested in decent numbers based on actual placements Robert Half is the place to look.


    Oh, and use two logins one for How much I can earn and the other for How much I should pay. Price fixing is everywhere in all industry. There are hundreds of sites like CUPA for every sector waiting to be legislated out of existence. You just need to know where to look and I’ve been hawking data for decades.

    Clearly organizations of HR professionals shouldn’t be compiling salary surveys especially surveys that are consistently less than the prevailing wage (50%). Robert Half is by far the best tech wage data supplier and nonfarm payroll is a close second. The data is based on actual placements not offering salaries which can be and are abused. I’m a bit concerned when I see Robert Half splitting out job seekers and employers. It congers up the potential for abuse behind closed doors, but is just a perception. Their numbers have had integrity for decades and they are substantially higher than the surveys in this article which I believe is based on low end offering prices.

    What do your think?