FinTech Futures Jobs: The qualifications you need to land a £100k salary
Skyrocketing inflation and the prospects of imminent recessions in Europe, the UK, and possibly even the US may be inducing some nervousness on the part of tech professionals around the world, but while some of the tech trailblazers of recent years may have announced a halt to expansion plans or even implemented headcount reduction, these headline-grabbing announcements haven’t even dented the increasing demand for tech talent.
Driven by digital transformation across almost every industry, demand for talented tech professionals is no longer confined to the ICT sector, and this is giving workers wider and better career options as well as driving salaries to new highs for certain highly sought skill sets.
New tech jobs
US statistics show that more than 200,000 new tech jobs were created in the 12 months to the end of September 2022, while in August alone there were over 300,000 open tech posts advertised. Average salaries in the US and Canada for mid-level tech professionals with between four and six years’ experience increased from $146,000 in August 2021 to $154,000 one year later.
And among the most highly sought-after tech professionals at present are those with experience in the critically important areas of AI, cloud computing, and cybersecurity. Salaries north of £100,000 a year are becoming the standard for mid-level and senior professionals in these areas, depending on the size of the company and the nature of its business.
And the very good news for those with ambitions to land such jobs is that the main requirement of candidates is not a long series of letters after their names. It’s experience, experience, and more experience. In fact, while many employers state that some sort of STEM academic qualification is desirable, it is by no means a deal breaker.
Not surprisingly, cybersecurity professionals are highly coveted at present. High profile breaches such as those suffered by the Colonial Pipeline in the US and the December 2020 cyber-attack against the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) during the Covid-19 pandemic served to highlight the vulnerability of organisations across the globe to cyberthreats.
In many cases, the skills and experience required include a solid knowledge of cybersecurity and privacy standards, frameworks, policies, regulations, legislations, certifications, and best practices. Also high on the list is knowledge and experience of information security and security controls, cybersecurity tactics, techniques and procedures, the latest guidance from national cybersecurity authorities, the latest cybersecurity trends, and legacy security techniques where appropriate.
Where qualifications are required, they tend to be highly specific such as ISACA’s Certified Information Security Manager (CISM) certification or the EC CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) accreditation.
One other consideration for professionals in the cyber arena is security clearance. A growing number of cybersecurity consultancies and companies with sensitive government contracts are requiring senior or middle-ranking cyber professionals to have security clearance from the relevant national authorities.
An example of how experience is trumping qualifications in this area is the Enterprise Architecture – Security role on offer at Diageo in London. The average security architect salary in London is around £107,000, and the requirements for this job are seven-plus years of experience in cybersecurity within enterprise architecture, preferably within a large, multinational organisation. A TOGAF (or similar) architecture certification is preferred, but there is no mention of formal academic qualifications.
The story is much the same in cloud where site reliability engineers and full stack architects are commanding salaries of £100,000 and upwards. Interestingly, many employers in this space don’t even mention formal qualifications in their job postings.
Where qualifications are required, they tend to be STEM degrees or diplomas. A Senior Cloud Engineer (Full Stack) role with Utrecht-based Cloud Solutions is offering a salary of up to £105,000 to the right candidate. Along with relevant experience in cloud technologies, the company is seeking candidates with a bachelor or similar level of degree in maths/physics/engineering/IT along with more than three years’ experience in development on the Microsoft Azure IoT platform, and five years’ experience or more in a similar role.
Requirements for AI engineer roles in the £100,000-plus category tend to focus on experience. Typical asks are proficiency in C and C++ programming languages; expertise in the design and development of software such as OpenGL, OpenGL ES, Vulkan, or DirectX; machine learning development skills; and experience in environments such as PyTorch and Tensorflow. Once again, where formal qualifications are required, they are in the broad STEM area with a growing tendency towards the natural sciences as companies are seeking to recruit professionals with psychology or philosophy or arts backgrounds.
Based on average Google salaries for senior software engineers (£128,000), a role for a Principal Engineer, Artificial Intelligence and Cerebra with Google in London could command a similar rate of remuneration.
In common with other employers in this space, the focus for this senior role is mainly on technical experience in full stack server and client programming as well as experience with machine learning, including working with training models and developing existing model structures.
A bachelor’s degree is mentioned, but the top requirements focus on experience working across research and engineering, working with distributed teams, working across multiple time zones and geographies, and experience integrating systems together and applying existing technologies as well as knowledge and understanding of privacy technologies.
The overall message here is that there has probably never been a better time for people with experience in these areas to go job hunting, particularly if they are looking for an uplift in salary.
A lack of formal qualifications is no barrier to success – the comparative youth of areas like AI, cloud, and cybersecurity means that academic programmes are thin on the ground, and quickly outdated where they do exist. And, when you think about it, the cyber bad actors don’t go to cybercrime college to learn their trade – so why should the good guys?