Australian open source workers earn more money

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Australian open source workers earn more money

IT workers who specialise in free and open source software are earning more than the national average for IT, according to the results of Australia's first open source census.

The average full time salary of respondents to the Australian Open Source Industry and Community Census was between $76,000 and $100,000, but the 10 percent working on open source full time were earning “a lot more” according Pia Waugh of Waugh Partners consultancy, which conducted the survey.

“The people who were working on free software full time were earning more than the average for the general community,” she said.

When compared to Australian salaries across the board, salaries for full time open source workers were almost three times the national median.

Women IT workers didn't fare as well though – the full time women workers who responded were earning an average of $46,000 to $60,000, Waugh said.

Previewing the results of the census at Linux.conf.au on Friday, Pia and Jeff Waugh of Waugh Partners Consultancy said the online survey attracted 327 respondents who were working on open source software in either a personal or professional capacity. The majority of them (57 percent) were hobbyists who don't get paid to work on open source. Twenty-four percent were working on open source in their paid job some of the time, while the highest paid segment were the 10 percent working on open source full time.

Waugh Partners believed the sample size was greater than 5 percent of the total open source industry size, making it a credible representation of the whole industry.

“It suggests that people who work with open source are likely to have better skills and are likely to get better jobs,” Jeff Waugh said. “That is a really good message to take out to the education sector. We hope it will reinforce the decision by universities who do open source software, and the ones who aren't doing it will need to compete.”

While many of the respondents said their knowledge of open source was a self taught skill, Queensland universities led the field of institutions attended by the respondents.

The majority of respondents to the survey had completed some of their study at Queensland's University of Technology (QUT), while the University of Sydney came second. Two of the top four unis nominated were in Queensland.

The full report is due out in March.

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