Here's a Breakdown of the 5 Highest Paying Industries for Tech Workers

Whether you’re choosing an industry for the first time or looking to switch into something new, new data by Hired reports average tech salaries (for roles in data analytics, software engineering, design, and product management) by industry, and reveals some surprising frontrunners. To be sure, salary isn’t the only consideration to take into account when choosing where to specialize, but it’s certainly one factor that may sway things in one direction or another.

In results that turn conventional knowledge on its head, tech roles in financial services come in eighth, with an average salary of $111K. Healthcare follows closely at $115K, then entertainment at $118K. The top 5 highest paying industries for tech workers may surprise—read on for our comments on the industries that pay the most.

Transportation ($145K on average)

Whether it’s a more traditional transportation company such as Amtrak or a startup delivery company, transportation companies pay tech workers the highest on average. In a world that can’t stop thinking about software, it’s encouraging to see that companies concerned with something very physical—the movement of one thing between point A and point B—are valuing their workers highly. Perhaps it’s the rise of “the Uber of [blank]”, or maybe the world is thinking more about the infrastructure that moves people and things around, but salary data certainly makes transportation a compelling industry for tech workers.

Education ($135K on average)

In another surprise, the most recent data shows that education companies—from public schools to online learning platforms—pay tech workers the second highest salaries on average. And that’s a great sign, given the discussion around the disruption of higher education and the importance of utilizing technology to bring learning opportunities to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to them. If you’re passionate about education but were concerned that it might not pay competitively, think again—and start exploring technical roles at education companies in your area.

Communications ($133K on average)

In an increasingly connected world, companies that focus on communications are proving to pay handsomely, with employees in this industry bringing in an average of $133K in 2017. One might argue that, while the tech giants like Facebook and Google are scooping up every type of technical talent they can get, they’re probably even more keen on adtech specialists, who are more likely have a deep understanding of the space where most of their revenues comes from. Given this, it’s no surprise that companies in this industry come in at the top of our list.

Retail ($126K on average)

We’ve all heard that retail is dying, but the data seems to suggest this is limited to physical retail, with retail companies paying the third highest tech salaries. On the one hand, it makes sense: These companies are likely extra-focused on making sure their digital experiences are smooth in an increasingly competitive e-commerce environment. But on the other hand, with thinner margins than in most industries, high salaries can be challenging for a retail company. Whatever the justification, retail companies may be compelling for tech workers looking for a company that bridges the physical/digital divide—and you likely won’t have to take a pay cut for one of these roles.

Technology ($126K on average)

In spot #5 and well below the global tech worker salary of $135K, we finally come to technology—the industry many would expect to pay tech workers the highest salaries. Perhaps the hiring market has been saturated with workers looking for the hottest new technology, or maybe other industries simply have more capital to play with, but don’t be surprised if your salary offer from a tech company is lower than one from another industry.

At the end of the day, choosing an industry should be based on more than just salaries, but it’s hard to ignore the significant differences between average salaries in the various industries. Transportation, for example, pays tech workers an average of nearly $20K more than retail and technology companies, making a compelling case for considering roles across industries to make sure you’re maximizing your salary potential.

About the Author

Napala Pratini

Napala is a consultant to early-stage technology companies. Prior to going independent, Napala led marketing initiatives across both consumer and B2B fintech for employers including NerdWallet and Earnest. In past lives she was a ballet dancer and a cancer researcher.