Open source IT pros earn more – survey

IT professionals working with free software can expect to earn far more than their country's average salary, following news that in Australia open source salaries are particularly high.

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IT professionals working with free software can expect to earn far more than their country's average salary, following news that in Australia open source salaries are particularly high.

In a comprehensive survey of 327 respondents, the Australian Open Source Industry Census has revealed that full-time salaries for open source workers there were three times the national median, peaking at around A$76,000 to A$100,000 (£34,900 to £45,900). For women salaries peaked between A$46,000 and A$60,000 (£21,100 to £27,500).

The census, due for full release in March, was conducted by Sydney-based consulting firm Waugh Partners with support from Fujitsu, IBM and NICTA. Waugh Partners' directors Pia and Jeff Waugh released partial findings from the census during a presentation at the Linux.conf.au Linux and open source conference in Melbourne last week.

"Most are working as software engineers, or in a non-ICT role," said Pia Waugh. "Women have lower unemployment, are contracting more and working full-time less."

Waugh said it was unfortunate women in open source were paid so much less than men. But even with women only accounting for 7% of open source employment, Australia has a low ICT representation for women anyway, so the results were not dire, she said.

Waugh Partners believes the sample size is greater than 5% of the total open source industry size, making the results a credible representation of the whole industry. When introducing the motivation behind the census, Jeff Waugh said many people have an idea of how large and mature the local open source industry is, but "anecdotal evidence only gets you so far" and a more formal survey would provide better information.

When asked if they were paid to work on free and open source software 57% responded "never", 10% "full-time", 9% "often", and 24% "occasionally".

The census results have been compared against the broader ICT industry and the general population and covers a range of demographics, including work habits, industry location, educational experience, and types of free software used.

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