Top 3 Contract Roles in Tech with the Highest Pay Increases

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Salaries for tech employees are growing faster than for workers in the rest of the economy. Average compensation rose 6.9 percent in both 2020 and 2021. Demand is outstripping supply, leading to high wages for those with the skills to fill advertised roles. 

But, of course, there are some contract roles within tech where wages have grown even faster. Read below to learn more about what they are. 

Data Engineer

Salaried data engineering jobs pay exceptionally well. However, contract roles may get paid even more. Estimates vary, but top data engineers may earn between $100 and $200 per hour, implying weekly gross take-home pay of $4,000. 

Data engineering jobs already pay well, but contract roles pay even more

Data engineers perform multi-faceted tasks, either with data they procure themselves or those provided by other data scientists. Their goal is to use data to further the objectives of firms that hire them. 

Skills data engineers require include:

  • Knowledge of data migration tools and integration
  • Understanding of distributed systems
  • Understanding of data science and machine learning languages
  • Knowledge of a variety of programming languages
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Ability to communicate complex subject matter to various stakeholders

Companies may ask data engineers to perform any of the following tasks:

  • Create pipelines that convert raw data into usable formats that scientists and engineers can use
  • Collaborate with software engineers to handle the data aspects of software engineering and data science
  • Structure data and make it more accessible for firms to use
  • Use data to deliver key insights and analytics
  • Improve the use of consumer and business data in organizations
  • Make data accessible via the cloud
  • Implement company data policies, ensuring both privacy and confidentiality of sensitive personal information
  • Creating optimal data warehouses, reporting systems, and pipelines
  • Cleaning difficult-to-use data to make it more amenable to analysis
  • Developing tools to help analyze data better
  • Implementing machine learning and statistical methods to better understand how to leverage data

Companies are often willing to pay high day rates to employees who can perform these tasks. Many want data engineers to solve complex problems for them on a project-by-project basis. Contracts may run for months if implementations are challenging. 

DevOps Engineer

DevOps Jobs are in extremely high demand, particularly in tech-enabled companies. Because of this, wages for contract roles are rising. Hourly wages for DevOps engineers range between $52 and $66, implying weekly compensation of $2,080 to $2,640. 

DevOps contract roles are needed now more than ever!

DevOps jobs are in high demand right now as organizations embrace digital transformation. Companies want people who can help them meet their business priorities and objectives. 

Skills required to become a DevOps engineer include:

  • Soft skills such as proactivity and customer focus 
  • Thorough understanding of DevOps tools, including version control, cloud quality controls, automation, and configuration management
  • Security skills
  • Coding and scripting skills, including Shell, Node.js, Bash, PHP, Javascript, Java, Python, and Ruby
  • Cloud skills, including the ability to use cloud-enabled performance testing

As a DevOps contractor, companies may ask you to perform any of the following tasks:

  • Helping tech-focused organizations develop a DevOps-orientated culture
  • Assessing performance and monitoring of software development programs
  • Managing development infrastructure
  • Managing continuous deployment and continuous integration (CI/CD)
  • Communicating DevOps activities to other members of the organization
  • Connecting with other technical and business teams to deliver joint projects
  • A firm grounding in agile methodology, the backbone of many DevOps activities
  • Working with open-source tools and technologies
  • Deployment of multiple automation tools
  • Removing bottlenecks and manual handshakes
  • Training and development of other people with technical expertise in the organization
  • Processing and overcoming legacy issues with company networks
  • Ensuring that software development pipelines run smoothly

Just like data engineers, companies expect DevOps contractors to perform various tasks. For this reason, they are willing to pay exceptionally high daily rates. Ultimately, firms are after people who can “just solve problems” with minimal onboarding. They want engineers who can transform their digital readiness and prepare them for the future economy. 

Cloud Security Engineer

Lastly, as organizations flesh out their cloud operations, the demand for cloud security jobs is increasing, pushing up how much contractors can charge for their services. Companies want engineers to protect their platforms from numerous cyber threats and attacks that could compromise their operations. 

Contract roles in cloud security engineering are also in high demand!

Because of this, wages for cloud security engineers are high. Cloud contract roles can earn $1,620 per hour by some estimates. 

Skills cloud security engineers require include:

  • Software development and programming skills
  • Ethical hacking and knowledge of technology tools and platforms
  • The ability to create cloud-based programs
  • Knowledge of cryptography and encryption
  • Communication skills for telling team members about cloud security issues
  • Understanding of cloud fundamentals, such as AWS, access control architecture, and encryption

While on the job, contracting companies may ask you to: 

  • Troubleshoot and problems-solve network anomalies and vulnerabilities
  • Manage cryptography and encryption of data in the cloud
  • Build more effective cloud security systems, particularly for businesses operating with remote employees or BYOD policies
  • Respond to security incidents in the cloud environment
  • Put policies in place to reduce the likelihood of a breach in cloud security
  • Create new and more secure cloud-based programs

Practically all companies want accreditation from cloud security engineers with CCSP (Certified Cloud Security Profession). You may also need to prove that you’ve taken AWS Security courses. 

Cloud security is a massive opportunity. The market is worth $12.73 billion in 2022, up from just $6.76 billion in 2019. There is a tremendous shortage of people who understand cybersecurity, giving anyone who gets into this particular field significant market power. Wages are high precisely because only a small number of people are available to do the work. 


Contract roles in tech offer some of the best pay and conditions of most jobs currently available in the economy. Data engineers, DevOps specialists, and cloud security experts are all in extremely high demand.

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