Windows, Unix, and Linux: Which Earns the Most
Web Site: http://www.mckendrickresearch.com
Many analysts and pundits have been predicting the demise of
Unix, and that commodity-priced Windows and Linux architectures
will gradually replace the OS. However, as Unix gets chased into
the high end of computing, the value of Unix skills is rising as
well. In fact, IT professionals skilled at either developing or
managing Unix systems command far higher salaries than their
Windows or Linux counterparts. A survey of enterprise IT salaries
confirm that Unix knowledge trumps other platforms at all levels -
from entry-level programmers to the CIO.
The multi-client salary survey, conducted by my firm in early
2003, documents the compensation rates at 73 enterprise Windows
sites, contrasted against 74 Linux sites and 132 Unix sites.
(Because Windows is so ubiquitous, most of the Linux and Unix sites
in this survey also supported Windows systems. However, the Windows
subsample was narrowed to Windows-only shops for comparative
Other industry surveys also have documented the higher rates
offered Unix managers and developers. For example, a recent salary
survey conducted by Dice, Inc. also finds such distinctions between
Unix and Windows salaries.
Our own research found the distinction between OS platform
salary rates is most glaring at the CIO/vice president level. CIOs
at Unix installations made twice the base salary of their Windows
counterparts. CIOs made almost $135,000 a year at Unix sites,
compared with $114,000 at Linux and $73,000 at Windows-only
installations. Some of this disparity could be attributed to the
fact that the Unix subsample is more likely to be part of larger,
multiplatform installations. However, when looking at the entire
Windows sample - which includes multiplatform sites also supporting
Unix/Linux - the overall average increases to about $110,000 -
still well below the Unix average.
Systems analysts working within Unix environments also had
salaries far surpassing their counterparts in Linux and Windows.
Unix analysts had average base salaries of more than $70,000,
surpassing their Windows counterparts by more than 22%. There was
also a wide disparity between Unix and Linux salaries. Systems
analysts in C/C++ shops fare best of all development languages,
drawing an average salary of $73,600.
Programmer/analysts with Unix or Linux skills were able to
command salaries at least 9% to 10% higher than their Windows
counterparts. P/As working within Unix environments had average
base salaries of close to $64,000, while those in Linux
environments made $63,000. This contrasts with an average base
salary of $58,000 for those working exclusively in Windows
environments. By language, P/As in C/C++ and Java shops fared best,
drawing average salaries of $66,400 and $65,400 respectively.
Programmers in the Unix realm made almost $54,000 a year in the
survey - exceeding their Windows counterparts by a third. Those
programmers working at Linux installations also fared better,
making a base salary of about $49,000 a year, compared to $41,000
for Windows. The best-paid skill areas for programmers - who
typically have five years or less experience - are in Java and
C/C++. Programmers in Java shops make $52,200, while C/C++
developers make $52,000.
Average Annual Base Salaries: By OS
Windows only Linux Unix
CIO/VP $73,200 $114,300 $134,700
IT director $80,100 $104,800 $106,200
MIS manager $70,700 $84,700 $96,800
Systems analyst $57,900 $63,900 $70,700
Programmer/analyst $58,400 $62,600 $63,600
Programmer $40,600 $49,400 $53,800
Based on a survey of 250 enterprises conducted by McKendrick & Associates
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© 2009-11-03 Joe McKendrick