Typical Sysadmin Salaries in Silicon Valley
May 11, 2010 2:08 PM   Subscribe

What are typical Silicon Valley or South Bay Area Help Desk, Tech Support, Desktop Support and Sysadmin Salaries?

I've decided to relocate to the South Bay Area and am looking for an IT job in the area. The problem is that I really don't know what IT salaries are like in the South Bay, though I do know they're a lot different (higher) than most everywhere else in the country. I've looked at Glassdoor and Payscale and they're sort of helpful, but I'd like to solicit some personal experience.

I'm a degreed and experienced Windows System Admin with a little Linux and Mac OS X, and it seems that available jobs tend to fall into Help Desk (internal), Technical Support (external), Desktop Support and Server Support realms. Any idea of ballpark salaries I'd be looking at for jobs in those categories?
posted by cnc to Work & Money (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that the San Jose area has an average salary for system administrators of around $100,000 per year.

I've found that for other types of jobs in other regions of the country the BLS numbers are often inaccurate, so caveat emptor, etc.
posted by dfriedman at 5:33 PM on May 11, 2010

It's variable based on experience (obviously) but also on the company itself. Startups often pay less but may compensate in stock. $100k as dfriedman lists isn't out of whack but there will be a lot of variability, I could easily see +/- 20k. Don't forget our housing costs are among the highest in the nation.
posted by chairface at 3:00 PM on May 12, 2010

It varies drastically by experience, (24x7 public facing) production experience, and technology. Assuming roughly the same experience/environment, Windows work pays less than OS X, which pays less than Unix, which pays less than Cisco/Juniper network work.

There are enough specialists out here that you'll generally be considered a Windows admin, if that's your primary platform. Everybody has "a little of" everything else, but they are generally hired for one platform.

$100k is about right for a Sage level III or better sysadmin (4-6 years of solid experience... not quite ready to be the final say on a big public deployment, but good enough that they're not going to need much supervision from the senior admin.) You can expect perhaps a 25% swing depending on the finances of the employer, how tightly your previous experience fits with their business, and how badly they believe they need to fill the position.

$30-35k is about right for a Sage level I (a smart, self-taught or freshly degreed person, with a passion for keeping computers running, and decent communications skills... but no real professional experience in IT or operations -- essentially an apprentice).

That's a lot of variation considering that a good level I today who's talented and dedicated enough to stay in the profession will be a level III in 2015. Ops/IT work is notoriously a young man's field, but that's mostly because only a very few people stay in the profession for more than a few years. There are an awful lot of programmers and QA folks who started their careers in helpdesk or the NOC.

So. How long have you been a professional full-time sysadmin? What public-facing sites have you worked on? What was the root cause of the most complicated outage that you have ever had to recover from? And what's the most arcane piece of technology that's in your junk box (or was in your junk box the last time you emptied/abandoned it)?
posted by toxic at 5:13 PM on May 12, 2010

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