Derek Newman
Derek Newman

Kubernetes jobs market (Q1 2021)

Published in April 2021

Kubernetes jobs market (Q1 2021)

What is the average salary for a Kubernetes engineer?

Is it lower or higher than a comparable job as a DevOps or SRE?

In this report, you will get a sense of what to expect when looking for a Kubernetes job.

Before we start, a few words on the data.

The job descriptions that we collected are slightly skewed:

  1. At Kube careers we only focus on Kubernetes jobs.
  2. If a job doesn't have a clear salary range we discard it. Many job offers don't indicate a salary range and we think this is not good for engineers looking for work.
  3. We discarded job offers from recruitment agencies.
  4. We analysed listings on platforms used by European and American audiences.
  5. The dataset is small — only 86 job descriptions from January, February and March 2021.

Keep these factors in mind while we dive into the numbers.

Let's go!

Where are most Kubernetes job offers located?

Most of the advertised jobs were in Europe and North America (37 and 33 job descriptions, respectively).

Nine positions were available in the Asia region, and seven jobs were advertised as exclusively remote.

Job by region

What's the salary range?

Because the dataset has job listings from several currencies, we only analysed the job description from the US market (42 job descriptions).

Salary ranges

The average USD salary for a Kubernetes engineer in our dataset is $125,655.

The highest paying USD salary was a range between $160,000-260,000.

How does it compare to a similar job that doesn't require Kubernetes?

According to Glassdoor US, the average DevOps engineer salary is $100,129.

So you could earn at least 10-20% more if you pursued a Kubernetes career path over a standard DevOps career.

Salary ranges

The average DevOps salary on Glassdoor is $100,129.

There's a clear trend towards offering "remote + office" positions.

You can see that "remote + office" positions are the majority (48 job descriptions) in the chart below.

Employers advertised 37 office-only positions in the period, and seven positions were offered as remote-only.

Remote vs office

That's no surprise as most employers are trying to adapt to COVID restrictions.

Another interesting fact is that 38 jobs mentioned remote work or distributed teams.

It will be interesting to watch this metric over time.

Job descriptions mentioning remote work

Am I more likely to be invited to an interview if I have a certification?

What role does a certification play in Kubernetes employment?

According to the data, certifications are nice to have but not essential.

In the 86 jobs analysed, employers mentioned certifications in only 13 job listings.

The remaining 73 (nearly 85%) did not mention a certification at all.

Certification mentiones

When certifications were listed as a requirement in a job description, Kubernetes and Cloud certifications were the top requirements.

Certifications popularity

And, as you would suspect, CKA was the most requested certification of the official Kubernetes certificates.

Kubernetes certifications

When the employer asks for a cloud provider certification, AWS certifications are the clear frontrunner, being as important as the Azure and GCP certifications combined.

Cloud provider certifications

What's the average number of years of experience required?

Another big surprise in our analysis was the requirement for experience - or rather the lack of it.

While the numbers are close (48 vs 38 ads), experience doesn't seem to be a huge consideration for employers.

Years of experience mentions

Only one employer in our dataset was looking for a junior Kubernetes engineer with little to no experience.

It seems that most employers are not willing to hire juniors with limited Kubernetes experience.

Years of experience

Given that Kubernetes was launched in 2014, it is not surprising that few employers are looking for Kubernetes engineers with more than seven years of experience.

Call me maybe?!

No one likes to wake up in the middle of the night.

But for one in five jobs, you are required to do so.

Nearly 20% of job advertisers expected their engineers to be on call.

Being on call

It's no surprise that cloud providers and cloud tools are often mentioned in jobs for Kubernetes engineers.

There are more mentions of cloud-related terms than there are advertisements (94 vs 86), so it is clear that employers are using a mix of technologies from different providers.

What is surprising is the number of job advertisements that were not using the major cloud providers - Azure, AWS and GCP.

Nearly 40% of advertisers appear to be rolling their own private clouds.

Infrastructure location

What technology should I learn other than Kubernetes?

The following list is an excellent guide for engineers seeking to round out their skill set.

Infrastructure location

For example, an aspiring Kubernetes engineer might decide to learn the following:

  • Programming languages: Python, Go and Java.
  • Cloud platforms: AWS, Azure and GCP (in that order).
  • Containers: Docker.
  • Operating systems: Linux.
  • Infrastructure as Code: Terraform.
  • Configuration management: Ansible.
  • CI/CD: Jenkins.

Should I learn Docker before I learn Kubernetes?

Docker is mentioned slightly more often than not in our dataset - 44 vs 42 times.

So while it is essential to learn Docker to understand Kubernetes, most job descriptions don't even bother mentioning it.

Docker's mentions

Top configuration management and infrastructure as code tools

Terraform and Ansible are the most popular configuration tools.

Configuration tools popularity

It's worth noting that 50 ads mentioned configuration tools, while 36 did not say anything at all.

Configuration tools mentioned

Let's hope they are following the good practices of infrastructure as code and simply forgot to add them to the job spec.

Should you learn Python to supplement your Kubernetes engineering career?

Maybe Go?

What about Rust?

Python is the most requested programming language, appearing in 54% of the job advertisements.

Other programming languages that you might consider adding to your toolkit are Go, Java, Shell scripting and SQL.

Programming languages popularity

If your background is not in development, you should make an effort to learn a language.

80% of job advertisements mentioned a programming language - so it is a skill that you should master.

Mentions of programming languages

Is there anyone using Service meshes in prod?

If they are, they're very quiet about it.

Only three ads in our dataset mentioned Istio as a service mesh.

Mentions of service meshes

Linkerd, where are you!?

What's the favourite monitoring stack?

No surprises here.

Prometheus was by far the most popular tool for monitoring and alerting.

Monitoring tools popularity

Surprisingly, 70% (61) job listings did not mention the popular monitoring tools at all.

Monitoring tools mentions

Final remarks

And that's it!

Hopefully, this report provides you with some indications of the types of skills and experience employers look for when hiring for Kubernetes engineering positions.

Did you spot a mistake?

Do you think there should be a new category?

Let us know at [email protected] or tweet us at @kubecareers.