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May 12, 2017updated 05 Sep 2017 9:01am

Highest Paying Big Data Jobs in 2017

Professionals that improve businesses by tapping into the limitless data of the information age can expect impressive salaries. Firebrand Training’s Alex Bennett gives you the top salaries in Big Data and the skills professionals need for these high paying roles.

By Ellie Burns

From shopping online, communicating on social media or carrying GPS-enabled smartphones, data is now produced at an unprecedented rate.

By analysing petabytes of data, Big Data professionals can identify business opportunities previously impossible to grasp. Industries are rushing to make the most of these insights. For example, the worldwide healthcare analytics market is predicted to reach £14.5 billion by 2021.

Alex is a technical writer for Firebrand Training.

But the big data we generate now creates real security risks. Data security and privacy are high priorities for organisations, exacerbated by the arrival of the EU General Data Protection (GDPR). When it’s introduced in May 2018, GDPR will revolutionise the way we treat data, creating an increased demand for big data professionals with GDPR training.

With impressive salaries and an increased need for data-skilled professionals to react to GDPR, this is a great time to pursue a career Big Data. Let’s take a look at the highest paying Big Data jobs in 2017.


Senior Big Data Developer/Engineer – £80,000

Senior Big Data Developers build, maintain, test and evaluate big data solutions used by businesses to improve products and reduce costs.

Also referred to as Senior Big Data Engineers, these seasoned professionals are responsible for creating tools that can collect, store and analyse massive amounts of data.

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To implement the solutions needed to gather and analyse this data, these developers will be experts in Big Data tools and database languages; Senior Big Data Developers are experts in data warehousing and are typically skilled in the latest NoSQL database technology.

This technical role also requires substantial experience in a broad range of software and programming fields. Because of this, professionals seeking a career in Big Bata Development should have experience in software engineering before making the move to Big Data.

In most cases, these data specialists will also be expected to have a good knowledge of Hadoop, an open source Java-based programming framework that processes mountains of data. Hadoop knowledge is so highly sought after, 70% of Senior Big Data Developer job listings on ITJobsWatch cite Hadoop as a required skill.

Senior Big Data Developers earn a median UK salary of £80,000 (ITJobsWatch), with the top 10% of developers earning £93,500.


Senior Data Scientist – £82,500

The Data Scientist role is widely regarded as one of the top jobs in the world right now, ranking as the #6 best job in the UK in 2017, according to a Glassdoor report.

There are many interpretations of a Data Scientist’s role, and it’s sometimes mixed with that of the Big Data Developer. Regardless, the role of all Data Scientists is to analyse information hidden within vast amounts of data, enabling businesses to make smart decisions.

Senior Data Scientists focus on data mining techniques, statistical analysis and improving the data collection procedures across a business.

Professionals will need a strong knowledge of machine learning techniques and algorithms, NoSQL databases and the programming know-how to integrate with existing business services.

Professionals with “the sexiest job of the 21st century” can expect a median salary of £82,500 (ITJobsWatch) for senior positions.


Head of Data Analytics – £97,500

The Head of Data plays a leadership position within an organisation’s data science department, working with other departmental heads to provide advanced data modelling systems.

The Head of Data Analytics will define the overarching data strategy as they manage insights, machine learning and engineering projects

The best professionals in this high-level role will lead business-focused data strategies that look to create value and monetise vast data sets.

Dan Nelson, Head of Data and Analytics at Ocado, spearheaded Ocado’s cloud data migration. Dan’s team utilised Hadoop and Apache Spark software to create and display elaborate real-time analytics.

The project cut operations costs and provided customers with a better experience – illustrating the power of Big Data.

Chief Data Architect – £125,000

A Chief Data Architect (CDA) is ultimately responsible for how data will be used to achieve goals within the business. Chief Data Architects also define how the data will be stored, consumed, integrated and managed by different data entities and IT systems.

These skilled professionals champion data architecture, set the standard for how data is used within an organisation and are accountable for an organisation’s entire data strategy. This C-suite role will typically sit above a team of Data Architects and Developers, who will implement the CDA’s vision.

CDAs will also be involved in an organisation’s GDPR compliance, requiring additional safeguards on privacy and transparency. In the run-up to GDPR’s introduction, CDAs will be responsible for GDPR training as they skill-up their staff in the comprehensive new laws. For more information on how GDPR applies to Big Data, take a look at this blog post.

The CDA role sits at the executive level – not in IT. Because of the seniority of this role, seasoned professionals can expect median salaries of £125,000 (ITJobsWatch).


Data Visualisation Specialist – £140,000

With a massive average salary of £140,000 (ITJobsWatch), Data Visualisation Specialists are the highest paid data professionals in the world. As organisations increasingly seek ways to transform petabytes of data into simple visualisations, the job of a data visualisation specialist is in high demand.

These professionals are responsible for building visual interfaces and custom visualisations, so a keen eye for design is required. Data Visualisation Specialists are also experts in JavaScript big data technologies as well as web technologies like HTML and CSS.

Designing and engineering visualisations of data-rich interfaces is no easy feat and requires expertise intersecting data, web engineering and design. These professionals are also masters of UI/UX and will have experience building web or mobile interfaces to display data.

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