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IT Salary Survey December 2020

An anonymous salary survey has been conducted annually since 2015 among European IT specialists with a stronger focus on Germany. This year 1238 respondents volunteered to participate in the survey. Certain parts of this analysis will refer to previous year's results. Thanks to everyone participating!

The overall dynamics over 2015 – 2020

Compared to the last year, the number of respondents increased by a quarter. In this analysis, "Salary" means gross annual salary in thousands of euros (shortened to k), including all taxes. The base salary (i.e. excluding bonuses and stocks) median in 2020 remained almost the same as in 2019 - 70k. The line charts below from last year's analysis were extended with the data from 2020 and represent respondents' number along with their median annual base salary by years.

The purpose of this survey is to learn a competitive value of a skillset for IT specialists depending on: years of experience, position, languages, etc. in Germany, though this year 9% of the respondents were outside of Germany. The market value largely depends on numerous economic factors, which vary from country to country. To gain more accurate salary statistics, we'll avoid comparing the same skillset values across different economic markets. More than 91% of respondents are from 45 German cities. Below you can find a comparative analysis of the aggregated responses provided by participants from Germany.


Most respondents (~59%) are between 28 and 35 years old - the same age range as last year.


The share of women among respondents grew by 0.3% since 2019 and 0.8% since 2018. According to the collected data, the difference in median salaries of men and women is around 18%. You can find out more about the pay gap in a survey by the Statistisches Bundesamt based on the employees' payrolls of approximately 60,000 companies randomly selected across Germany. They estimated the average pay gap to be at 19%.


Top cities by the number of respondents:

City Respondents
Berlin 673
Munich 232
Frankfurt 44
Hamburg 40
Stuttgart 33
Cologne 20

Median annual salaries in Berlin and Munich are 70k and 72k respectively (same as last year).


Like last year, the survey showed that most IT professionals speak English at work. But, now, this tendency prevails also in German consulting. It also holds for other types of companies in Germany (product companies, startups).

Annual leave in Germany

45% of respondents have 30 vacation days.


Employment status of the respondents

Freelancers make up less than 2 percent of respondents.

Median salaries (EUR/year) of IT specialists in Germany

Full-time employees + Founders

Respondents hold a wide variety of positions in IT, e.g. Agile Coaches, SAP Consultants, Researchers, Product Analysts, etc. In the table, you will find the Top positions mentioned by at least 5 respondents. Medians of total compensation (i.e. base salary including bonuses and stocks) are counted separately for full-time employees including founders and freelancers (the last row in the table).

Based on 1082 answers from full-time employees and founders, ~34% of them indicated Software Engineering as their main work activity, occupying various positions in a company from Junior to Head. ~13% - Backend Developers; 8% - Data Scientists; ~7% - Frontend Developers. Last year, a quarter of German respondents identified themselves as Backend Developers and less than 1% as Software Engineers.

Work experience

For German employers, it is sometimes important that an IT specialist has relevant work experience in Germany. This year, respondents were asked about their work experience in Germany and in general. Below you can find a short analysis of how German experience influences salary medians. Let's first take a look at the distributions of work experience in years. 81% of the respondents have a total work experience of 5 years or more; ~43% have up to 3 years of work experience in Germany.

The salary by total years of experience

Another important exploration point is how experience affect the annual salary of the respondents. For our analysis, we'll use Software Engineers (Full-time) since it is the most common position among respondents. The graph above shows the median salaries of respondents with a particular work experience. Those very new to the tech industry, with less than a year of experience, can expect to earn 45.5k euros. With every next year spent in the industry, the annual compensation grows logarithmically (with some slowdown around the 10-years mark). Only 30% of Software Engineers (145 respondents) have more than ten years of total experience; that is not enough to speculate about a solid salary trend. A point worth mentioning here - for people with over 20 years of experience total compensation might not be of the utmost importance, as the chart goes down.

Impact of German work experience on salary

Finally, we will take a look at whether the German work experience is important in terms of salary. The chart is built based on the salary data of Top-13 full-time tech positions. The height of the bars shows the total experience, blue/red colors reflect ratios of German and non-German experiences of the respondents. The top line chart represents total compensation medians for respondents with a particular experience ratio. Despite the overall upward trend in medians, ceteris paribus, respondents with no or almost no German work experience, in general, earn less than those with a significant share of work experience in Germany. The total compensation medians drop on the data-points with prevailing non-German experience and spike for the dominant German work experience. Another finding on the chart is that the IT professionals without German work experience generally gain less than their less experienced counterparts who have already worked in Germany. The high-level inference might be that it's worth to differentiate between total and German experience when it comes to remuneration.

Salaries of Dev&Tech positions by seniority level (excluding freelancers)

Both scatterplots are based on Top-13 full-time (+founders) dev&tech positions' salaries. The upper one shows bare salaries on total experience and seniority level without bonuses and stocks, the lower one - with it. The overall medians for Dev&Tech positions (means Devs, Engineers, DevOps, Product Managers, Analysts, QA, etc.) is equal to 70k (the same as last year).

The median salary without bonuses and stocks of all tech positions is 70k (the same as last year); with bonuses and stocks - 72k. This median shift is mostly due to founders' bonuses and shares, which are quite significant comparing to the regular positions.

For positions at different levels:

Level median w/o bonuses and stocks median w/ bonuses and stocks
Junior 50k 51k
Middle 61k 64k
Senior 72k 75k
Lead 85k 90k
Principal/Head 90k 100k

Salary (EUR/year) on Technology

Shares of respondents by technologies

The most popular programming languages among the respondents are Python and Java (same as in 2019), followed by JavaScript and PHP. Many respondents use JavaScript along with TypeScript, which itself ranks 6th in popularity with 3,5%.

Popular supplementary technologies

Docker proficiency seems to be the most common in addition to the principal working language/technology. As for a cloud solution, AWS is more popular among the respondents than Google Cloud and Azure.

Salary (EUR/year) on Technology

The 31 box plots represent base salary distributions of specialists in Berlin by the 31 the most popular technologies & programming languages.

For example, the median annual base salary of Cloud Engineers and Spark specialists (light green and pink box plots respectively) are superior to salaries of professionals in other technologies. The annual salary of Java developer has a distribution centered around 70k/year with many deviations towards significantly higher salary values. The engineers using Python are being paid around 68k/year, the salary distribution stands out by the highest standard deviation, which tells about a wide span of salaries.

Distribution of base salaries and total compensation

Among 1127 respondents who work in IT and live in Germany ~70% specified their last year's salary in the current survey. The above box plots compare annual salaries with bonuses and stocks and without in both years:

1. Median annual salary has increased by ~5k since last year and amounted to 70k.
2. 2k median shift is observed in annual salary with bonuses and stocks from 70k in 2019 to 72k in 2020.

Salaries in Germany over 2015 – 2019

The insights of these dynamics over the 2015 – 2019 period is described in the previous report here.

The brightest curve corresponds to 2020. The standard deviation is quite high due to a fairly wide sample of respondents. The distribution mode has shifted slightly to the right and kurtosis has become slightly higher compared to the last year. It means that the most common base salary has became higher but the number of people receiving it has decreased. The distribution is right-skewed.

Annual compensation threshold Base salaries 2020 Total compensation 2020
>= 80k ~28% ~35%
>= 90k ~15% ~21%
>= 100k ~7,5% (11% in 2019) ~12% (17% in 2019)

Total compensation in the most represented German cities

Traditionally, the focus is on the most represented cities of Berlin and Munich. In general, the two distributions are almost aligned like last year. From the rug plot below, the left tail of Berlin's total compensation distribution is heavier, which implies more respondents with a compensation below average. There are significantly fewer respondents from other cities so that it's hard to derive statistical inferences. Nevertheless, the common annual total compensation in Hamburg as of 2020 is around 60k, in Stuttgart - 62k. Although the bell of distribution in Frankfurt is close to Berlin's one, the overall distribution is quite left-skewed, this tells about a few very high compensation alternating with many regular/below-average compensations.

Middles vs. Seniors total compensation / Berlin vs. Munich

The pattern persists from the last year, and total compensation in Berlin and Munich remain similar. The ratio of respondents from Berlin to Munich is 3:1. The Senior-level compensation distributions have almost the same medians: 75k in Berlin and 75.8k in Munich. Their averages are around 78.5k in Berlin and 84k in Munich. 78.5% of Senior-level compensations are concentrated between 60–100k in Berlin. In Munich, 74% falls into this range and 15% of Seniors' compensations are above 100k.

Corona highlights 2020

According to the survey, ~30% of respondents switched to a shorter working week (Kurzarbeit) during the pandemic at the request of the employer. For half of them, this meant 0 working hours per week. Another half had from 8 to 30 working hours per week.

21% of respondents have received Corona-related financial support from their employers. In most cases, it was one-time support within 500 and 1500 euro net. In some cases it has reached 2 000 - 5 000 euro, the maximum sum reported being 10 000 euro.


Thanks to Viktor Shcherban for working on previous salary surveys with row datasets (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) as well as publishing this analysis based on collected in 2020 survey responses.
Thanks to Sergey Vasilyev for collaboration on survey questionnaire and review of the article.
Credits to Irina Shakhova and Ilya Nikokoshev for valuable comments.

Author: Ksenia Legostay