Edinburgh tops the table for ‘big data’ salaries

Technology professionals working in Edinburgh’s “big data” arena command the highest IT salaries in the UK, a new report has revealed.

Edinburgh's 'big data' sector pays the highest in the UK. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh's 'big data' sector pays the highest in the UK. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The average permanent salary in Edinburgh for those working in big data – which enables clients to delve into the mountains of information generated by their business in a bid to identify trends and improve their bottom line – was £69,733 in the third quarter of 2015, ahead of London at £65,682 and higher than the UK average of £62,809.

“Ongoing recruitment drives underway in the financial services sector are fuelling demand for more senior roles and contributing to these higher average salaries,” said the Tech Cities Job Watch study by Experis, part of global recruitment giant Manpower.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

London topped the tables for every other discipline covered in the study of more than 52,000 IT jobs advertised across the UK between July and September, although Edinburgh commanded the second-highest salaries for IT security at £53,688.

Glasgow was highlighted as a “standout city” in the report, advertising for almost twice as many permanent roles in IT as in the previous quarter. This increased was attributed to “the financial services sector continuing to invest heavily in digital transformation projects in the city”.

The average permanent salary in the UK’s IT sector dipped by 1 per cent to £48,053 in the third quarter. London paid the highest overall figure of £52,649, compared with £38,762 in Edinburgh and £38,491 in Glasgow.

Glasgow and Newcastle recorded the strongest quarterly increases in the number of permanent and contract roles being advertised, of 49 per cent and 41 per cent respectively, while the mobile sector accounted for the biggest rise in demand for staff, with growth of 6 per cent in the number of roles advertised across all ten cities covered by the study.

Geoff Smith, managing director of Experis Europe, said: “Since the start of the year, the proportion of roles advertised in tech cities outside of London has been on the rise.

“In this quarter nearly one in every three jobs we’ve analysed is now being offered outside the UK’s tech capital. This has been the dominant trend through 2015; a country invigorated by positive economic sentiment to high-tech skills.”

Big data “remains a rare disciple”, the study said, making up just 9 per cent of advertised roles in the quarter.

However, demand for expertise in the sector is rising as more companies seek to squeeze value out of the data they generate. In July, outsourcing giant Capita bought data analytics specialist Barrachd, which has worked with the likes of Aegon and Standard Life. Barrachd, which means “more” in Gaelic, develops software to help customers track issues such as resource management and financial forecasting.

That deal came after another Edinburgh-based firm, Aquila Insight, said it expects its 40-strong headcount to swell to about 60 over the coming year amid increasing demand for its services.

A recent study found that data scientists on the US west coast can command basic salaries of more than $250,000 (£162,000) when managing a team of ten or more colleagues, and Aquila co-founder Warwick Beresford-Jones said that rivals on the other side of the Atlantic are beginning to tap the UK market in the search for talent.

“There’s a growing recognition at board level that good data analytics can improve business performance,” he said.

“I didn’t observe that four or five years ago, but what isn’t being recognised is there’s only a finite number of people that have this skill-set, and salaries are going to go up.”

In September, the Scots boss of German data analytics firm Exasol, which works with clients including Sony Music and Candy Crush Saga developer King Digital, said he was mulling a base in Scotland to target the country’s burgeoning start-up scene.

Aaron Auld said he was keen to build a presence for the privately-owned group in his home country, having last year opened an office in London.

Auld, who grew up in Glasgow and Perth before embarking on a career as a defence lawyer in Germany, said: “London was the most important place for me to go after Germany, but I would love to get a foot in the door in Scotland.”