Survey finds aussie open-sourcers earn more

Full results of first open source industry census to be available for free in March

In what may be Australia’s first comprehensive survey of the open-source industry, the Australian Open Source Industry Census has revealed IT professionals working with free software earn more than the national average.

The census, due for full release in March, was conducted by Sydney-based consulting firm Waugh Partners with support from Fujitsu, IBM and NICTA.

Waugh Partners’ directors Pia and Jeff Waugh released partial findings from the census during a presentation at the Linux.conf.au Linux and open-source conference in Melbourne last week.

The census indicates full-time salaries for open-source workers peak at A$76,000 to A$100,000 (NZ$86,000 to NZ$114,000) and for women, salaries peaked from between A$46,000 to A$60,000.

The good news is salaries are three times the national median, so “full-time open source pays more”, says Pia Waugh.

“Most are working as software engineers, or in a non-ICT role,” she says. “Women have lower unemployment, are contracting more and working full-time less.”

Waugh says it is unfortunate women in open source are paid less than men, even with a job for job comparison. Also a representation of 7% women is low, but considering Australia has a low ICT representation for women generally the results are in line with the industry.

“One [respondent] works as a pilot and sits on the plane and does Apache hacking on flights from Sydney to London,” she says.

Jeff Waugh says many people have an idea of how large and mature the local open source industry is, but “anecdotal evidence only gets you so far” and a more formal survey was undertaken to provide better information. With 327 respondents (“when you take out the journalist who wanted to get the questions and the Microsoft people”), Waugh Partners believes the sample size is “a reasonable sample of the community”.

Waugh Partners believes the sample size is greater than 5% of the total open-source industry.

When asked if they were paid to work on free and open source software, 57% responded “never”, 10% “full-time”, 9% “often”, and 24% “occasionally”.

The full Australian Open Source Industry Census is due in March and will be freely distributed.

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