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Why not just a simple spreadsheet of salaries? (docs.google.com)
663 points by z0a on March 21, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 361 comments

It's strange to me that these salary discussions are so narrowly focused on just pay/bonus and don't seem to care about benefits and work/life balance. Here's stuff I track in my own career spreadsheet and compare new jobs against these metrics when considering a new one:

    * Vacation, sick, and holiday time off
    * Distance to work and traffic considerations
    * Relative cost of living
    * Health insurance cost and coverage amount
    * Retirement benefits (401k, pension, etc)
    * Expected work hours per week

It's almost like if he wanted to do this and only include salary information he should have called it 'a simple spreadsheet of salaries'.

That way we'd know at least.

But then he asked "Why not" and jotux answered that question.

I read "why not?" as a rhetorical intro, similar to "now presenting!"


My comment is directed at these discussions in general. Knowing only salary and bonus just isn't very useful.

That's a very good point. I once applied for a job that had an interesting pay: a little over 100K. But that doesn't tell you anything, right? It's the benefits:

1. 8 days PTO - yeah...seriously, so basically no time off

2. distance to work was about 20-30 minutes -- not bad

3. LOW relative cost of living -- that 100K STRETCHES FAR, unlike in the bay area

4. no health insurance, no coverage

5. no retirement benefits

6. 70-80ish hours (basically late nights + weekends) weeks prior to investor meetings, 60-70ish hours normally

Take it as you may but taking out just one of those points above changes your whole perspective on the job.

I'll never understand the pitiful amount of time off US employees get - here in the UK I get 30 days holiday time a year, and unless I were to utterly take the piss being sick isn't taken out of that, its just accepted as one of those things that happens.

The issue is more people don't even use up the vacation days. People in the states are workaholics. It's competitive, there's the fear of losing their jobs if they are out of the office for too long.

Vacations cost money.

Like pnt12 I don't use much of my holiday time for traditional holidays, but I do tend to take the time off. Some of it will go on simply needing to do things like take my son to a doctor's appointment or other errands, but I've also taken time off to move house, play a new game on release day, and once I took a week off to make some progress on a side project. Having a decent amount of holiday time is great for that sort of thing.

You can spend your vacation time at home, if you don't want to spend money on big trips. Where I live, vacations are 30 days a year but most people only spend around 7 on big trips, or less if they need to save money.

Yeah as a state employee my pay looks low compared to what some of my peers make. When you factor in benefits and 14% in pension contributions not to mention good culture and work-life balance I come out the same (if not ahead IMHO).

I don't know, I'd be getting nervous about state backed pension schemes (assuming that's what you're in).

True, very true.

I'm part of a University system pension scheme that, while operating with a sizable unfunded liability, is fairly stable and has a good outlook. In the end there is a risk but it's difficult to quantify looking out 35 years in the future. I do know better than to take it as a 100% and have eggs in other baskets as well.

As you get older, your view on benefits changes dramatically.

When I was fresh out of college, I had no wife, no kids, no bills, no house. I took all the cool startup perks - free concert tickets, free box tickets to pro sports teams in town, free RedBull, free pop and food, free lunch.

Now in my 30's I have bills, investments, a house mortgage. I went to interview at some smaller startups and established web agencies and they were pitching me on all the "freebies" and I'm thinking, "You know what? Free RedBull doesn't pay my mortgage or my car payment." My view completely changed from taking the handouts to trying to leverage a higher salary in lieu of those things.

You have to remember, you only have so many years where you can burn the candle at several ends and still walk away with your sanity.

Yes I get free redbull, lunches, holidays, accomodation etc. in my job. I can choose what restaurant, what airline, what suburb to live in. To make it easy they just pay me thins thing called "money" which is like a token for all the free stuff. Awesome!

I came to the realisation the other day that I really don't care about free lunch, or free Red Bull, or any of those freebies.

They're not really free, because that money could be otherwise used to pay you. I'd rather get money that I could then spend on lunch, than get free lunch.

"I'd rather get money that I could then spend on lunch, than get free lunch."

In the US, free lunch at work is not considered income for the purposes of taxation [1], but salary that you'd be using towards lunch would be taxed. So, if you eat lunch at work either way, you're going to be getting about 1⅔ as much lunch in-kind as opposed to in salary (assuming marginal 40% state+federal tax).

And that's setting aside the issue of whether it's a good use of your time/energy/willpower to contemplate what/where/how to feed yourself in the middle of your workday.

[1] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26/119

I guess for me I enjoy getting out of the office and finding lunch. I'd prefer to get a couple of percent less "lunch money" and get the choice to find my own lunch.

It's more that it's a mental and physical break from work, and a good reason to stretch my legs. I can't stand being cooped up in an office for a full 8 hours at a stretch.

>assuming marginal 40% state+federal tax

Very few people in the US pay that.

Agreed! This myopic focus on salary numbers is disheartening. I'd add to the above:

    * culture
It's related to "expected work hours per week" but tells so much more and is probably the single largest contributor to whether or not you'll like working there.

I started a survey site to try and capture some of the non compensation type of information that developers might be interested in, thinking that glassdoor really took care of the monetary type of stuff. http://codehappy.info

This is a little off topic but Thank you for supporting HTTPS. I am glad to see that

https://codehappy.info/ works just fine. (:

Yeah, it's not that much extra work so it seems like something that should just always be done. Plus once you start messing around with any kind of authentication it seems irresponsible not to support it.

Culture means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. There definitely needs to be a mechanism for capturing the energy from a company that a candidate can experience at their leisure. An onsite isn't good for this due the stress of an interview, Glassdoor isn't good due to its bias toward negativity, social media is in the right direction but corporate social networks are usually closed off...

...Perhaps a corporate slack channel that candidates are invited to join?

Do companies typically subscribe to an easy to define culture? Could you give some examples?

The culture is what it is. When you interview, you can probe it, to get the broad strokes, but living in it will be required to know how compatible you are with it. IMO, culture comes from the top and is heavily influenced by the managers in between you and the top.

Seriously this. Salary is NOT everything, and a job that is kicking your butt all day and especially eating into weekends is not worth the tradeoffs. At least, it will catch up with you.

Salary is useful for buying things, up until a point, and at a certain point (assuming you aren't too materialistic) whether you are enjoying the job and other things gets to be way more important, and monetary compensation really doesn't make you that much happier.

Maybe because it's called a simple spreadsheet of salaries. Including that other stuff would make it not just about salaries, and not simple.

So other than that, spot on.

The title of this post is a question: Why not just a simple spreadsheet of salaries?

My comment is addressing this question, and more generally, this recent interest in posting your salary.

Your points are solid regardless. They're just not good criticism of what was created, based on his description.

Still, great ideas on your part.

I read "why not?" as a rhetorical intro, similar to "now presenting!"

I don't think it was a question.

This is why I have stayed at my current company so long. They give us unlimited PTO, free public transit, good 401k matching, good healthcare and the relative cost of living is great. Hours are reasonable and maintaining work life balance is encouraged at all times.

I could leave and probably make quite a bit more, but I don't think all the benefits would come along with it. Also the relative cost of living almost guarantees that even if I did leave, what I pocketed after all expenses would almost certainly be less.

  > They give us unlimited PTO,
This is one of the most pernicious anti-perks around. I'd like 12 months of leave at full pay thanks. This 'perk' actually ends up having the opposite effect. People take less time off because of guilt or lack of confidence in what is a 'reasonable' amount of time off to take.

Tell me exactly the number of days off I can have and make them no questions asked. That way I can clock out and forget that the office exists for 4 weeks or more. At my current employer I have 13 weeks of scheduled paid time off, plus paid paternity leave and 20 paid no questions asked sick/family leave days which roll over from year to year.

Unlimited PTO is a cold hearted, calculated sham which has been designed to screw you over [1][2]

The rest of the benefits you're getting sounds quite good.

[1] - http://www.inc.com/gene-marks/why-unlimited-paid-time-off-is...

[2] - http://www.forbes.com/sites/lizryan/2015/08/26/unlimited-vac...

Edit: Sorry, I didn't read all of your post before I reacted. I see you've said about the same as I have here.

Unedit: The best balance seems to be setting a lower bound. E.g. at my employer we have 25 days PTO minimum, and actually if we don't meet that and leave the company they've contractually obligated themselves to pay that back to you. So we're very much encouraged to hit that limit and it's very common to exceed it.

It really depends on the culture. My managers regularly disappear for a week or two at a time throughout the year. As a result most of us feel free to do do too. That being said I am almost always with laptop in hand to deal with the rare emergency but overall I have been pleased with the arrangement. I probably take 4 weeks or so a year and typically in the past have been limited to two...

13 weeks!? Can you at least give me a hint at which company you work at?

Well here's the rub, I work as a teacher, which is one of the most highly unionised workforces. I feel deeply sorry when I hear about the awful state of employment (in the US in particular). At will employment, 'unlimited' PTO, healthcare tied to employment etc. It's just so dehumanising and hostile. Doubly baffling is the average Joe's seeming distaste for unions.

Here's a sample of the conditions I can enjoy as a teacher here in Australia

$100k salary with guaranteed yearly increases that outpace inflation (this year was a 2.5% increase while inflation is at around 1.6%)

Guilt free, no questions asked sick leave.

Work-life balance. It was trivial for me to apply for part-time work. I now only work Mon-Thu.

Union-led, rolling negotiations for improved pay, working conditions, reductions to work hours etc.

It's the closest thing to a worker's paradise I can think of short of a post work, robot singularity.

Obviously not every profession is subsidized by the government like teaching and therefore can't, by extension, remain competitive while also being so worker friendly.

Even if you're not lucky enough to have such amazing conditions let's all at least call a spade a spade. Things like unlimited PTO are just ways to screw the little guy.

>$100k salary with guaranteed yearly increases that outpace inflation (this year was a 2.5% increase while inflation is at around 1.6%)

I find it hard to believe that people advocate for such fundamentally unsustainable arrangements. Guaranteed raises outpacing inflation that aren't tied to performance at all? Nobody should be surprised when the costs to support a workforce that trends towards mediocrity (why try when you're not rewarded) eventually reach a point that breaks the bank (see California).

It's great that you got a position like that, but an economy cannot survive with a workforce that has massive compensation guaranteed without regard to market forces (see Greece).

You seem unaware that "market forces" do exactly the same thing, with the difference that it's investors and not workers who demand eternal and infinite inflation-beating returns across the entire economy.

I've long suspected that one of the prime dysfunctions of US corporate culture is the projection of greed, puerility, incompetence, and worthlessness by management onto "lower" workers.

In reality the whole point of being a professional is that you get paid well, you produce good results, but it's not just about the money - because you have an ethic of personal pride in your work, and will over-deliver if you're allowed to.

The worst kinds of corporate management in the US spend an incredible amount of time trying to enforce this state in theory, while simultaneously undermining it in practice.

The best kinds of state ownership around the world prove that it can only flourish in a more mature, stable, and sane environment.

its not zero sum, world gdp has been increasing over time for thousands of years, investing can create value out of free things like thoughts, similarly education can create value by training people to think better than they otherwise could

> why try when you are not rewarded

When all are treated the same, regardless of performance, there are two possible situations - either all are rewarded as though underperforming (i.e. raise below inflation), or all are rewarded as though performing well (i.e. raise at or above inflation).

In the former case, my intuition is that your point is probably correct. If I know I'm going to be treated as though I'm the worst employee in the building, I might stop trying after a while.

In the latter case, my intuition is that you are probably wrong. Just because the worst employee is being rewarded as well as I am, it doesn't mean I'll sink to that level.

The intrinsic motivation to do well, improve, and learn all outweigh anything to with competition, and it's a pretty unhealthy culture that relies on the employees competing with their team mates to get them to do their jobs. However, that intrinsic motivation can only go so far when faced with an ever falling budget to maintain your lifestyle.

  >  support a workforce that trends towards mediocrity
This is not an absolute truth. Our standard of teaching is high here in AU, also look to Scandinavian countries to see a highly paid and respected profession with the world's highest educational standards.

  >  but an economy cannot survive with a workforce that has massive compensation guaranteed without regard to market forces
agreed, but surely the free market can find a middle ground between shafting their workforce to their face with 'perks' like 'unlimited' PTO and the admittedly amazing, but not generally applicable conditions that teachers and other public servants enjoy.

Yeah, I scale my salary expectations a lot depending on work conditions. For example, I offer a huge discount for working on free software. On the other side of the coin, these days I'm not sure there is enough money in the world to make me agree to work without doing TDD.

Basically, Nobody has ever offered me less money than I need to live/retire on. Everything else depends on the job for me.

The salary discussions are a very specific tool to provide employees like me intelligence and thus leverage in salary discussions.

"Is this job right for me" is of course far more complex topic but that's not the point of the salary discussion, IMO.

Yeah, the "Additional Comments" are just as interesting to me. For example:

"Expedia sucks! Don't come here ..."

GlassDoor compiles that information. That site seems better for more complex analysis. I think the point of this spreadsheet is for simple analysis.

I strongly distrust glassdoor. A former employer used to ask interns to fill out glassdoor reviews during a t-shirt give out party. Needless to say those were the 5 star ratings all happening on a single day.

Except that this whole wave started not with comparisons of different employers, but comparisons within the same employer (namely, Amazon). If you're trying to get more leverage in salary negotiations once you've already picked an employer, this is very useful information.

I'd probably make a best effort quantify these concerns and put them in their own columns.

Some of those are derivative fields from fields listed in the spreadsheet.

Non-pay benefits are a function of your employer.

Distance to work is a function of where you live and where you work.

Cost of living is generally able to be eyeballed based on the location.

Maybe we can improve the spreadsheet by adding columns for each category that you mentioned (on what is doable) so we can have a more objective view of the benefits.

Having grown up in a laboring community, I don't understand how most of these points are relevant to doing your job. These are just different kinds of compensation.

Like "short-term incentives" aka bonuses, these are just different "shiny objects" aka distractions your employer can wave around to keep you unfocused on some other part of the value exchange, such as no versioning of code or an ancient and unwieldy code base, poorly-maintained infrastructure, not keeping the building warm enough, or "modestly immoral" activities like nepotism.

other data is just harder to crowd source/capture with all the different variations. For a google doc format, less is more.

Also, people don't usually have that stuff memorized, so a quick ad-hoc survey like this would end up with a bunch of nulls and a bunch of incorrect guesses.

That's why this sort of thing needs to be localized-- not just to a company, but to a specific office even.

    * Belief in company's mission, how passionate you are about what they do

Totally agree, especially regarding relative cost of living and work / life balance.

That being said, cost of living is probably the most difficult to asses as there are also many relative variables.

work life balance could probably be assessed simply by an average work week length. I theorize work life balance is affected on an exponential scale with every additional hour.

I'd put my salary on there, but it's a specific number in the $400k-$800k range (yes, base), which is basically identifiable. I may be the only person at my company on this specific number. (And I'm nervous about tightening that range up any more!) How many other highly paid professionals have the same hesitation? The really high salaries may never be part of an anonymous survey like this, where you are required to be that specific.

Can you put a vague description of what you're doing so we can get an idea of what job can command this level of compensation?

Lots of things involving cloud computing, performance, SRE, software development. I'm still an individual contributor, although I consult with many others. I'm often working at the cutting edge, problems that haven't been solved before, but not always. Whatever the company needs I'm happy to do, whether it's glamorous or not.

AFAIK, to get to my range and beyond, you need to be a top performer (and bring a multiple in value of your salary to the company), be an expert in in-demand technologies (ones that aren't really in demand don't count), have a good network including senior managers / executives at companies that want to hire you, and you need to know how to negotiate. And, you can't negotiate if you don't know what others are paid. Surveys like this should be helpful.

You can NOT include the company name, on a side note Netflix employees seems to be really well paid (300-400k)

Netflix has a slightly unusual compensation structure. Basically everything is frontloaded into the annual salary. No bonuses. No soft benefits. Health care allowance is like $15k a year and is (I think) also folded into salary. This has the added benefit of making it very hard to poach Netflix employees since they'll be taking an almost automatic $100k salary cut to go work somewhere else (even it if comes out even on paper, the optics are bad).

I only know all this from talking to a friend who tried to poach a Netflix employee, maybe someone who actually works there can chime in.

That's brilliant.

At that cost to the company, what are you doing on HN on a Monday afternoon?

I kid, I kid ;)

I'm going to assume he works for one of the big trading firms with that level of pay.

Yeah, there's several on here already that are almost certainly identifiable, if the employer intended to figure it out.

Why not just change it by 50-75k? You're a pretty big outlier anyway, not like it matters in terms of median.

Not sure that'd work. Lets say it was $700k, and I adjust it by 50k to remain anonymous (I'd be more inclined to pick last year's salary, so at least it was a true number, but anyway). I'd guess my company only has a few engineers post $500k, so chances that I'm alone -- and identifiable -- by posting a 650-750 range seems high.

The bigger problem isn't my individual case, but how many other engineers are in a similar range and never participate in surveys like this. I don't know.

I would assume you make that much because you bring that much value to the company. I doubt anyone who's a supervisor of yours would see it, care if the saw it, would be willing to fire you if they cared, and would be willing the risk a lawsuit for firing you for an illegal reason (in the US it's illegal to discourage salary discussion). Worst case scenario you leave a toxic environment behind and get a similarly paying job at a better place.

In summary, I wish I had your problems :)

The only required fields are job title and base pay. Round your pay and fudge the title a bit. Only add the other info that won't ID you, slightly changing details as you go (round numbers, nearest metro area, etc)

Why do you care if your employer knows you filled out a random google doc with your salary?

I've done some data visualization of the spread sheet data:


Nice, unfortunately there are lots of trolls just spamming or creating fake inequalities for example 2527 and 2528 the only difference is the gender

Also, some of them put their monthly salary as opposed to the "yearly" one. A South African monthly salary looks a whole lot similar to say a UK yearly one. E.g. ZAR40000 / month vs GBP45000/year.

I'd argue that you should suggest an input format for some of the answers. This would help normalize the incoming data.

For example, you could have (City, State) for the location, and (numbers only) for numeric input fields.

How about adding a Country also?

Added some number data validation. I'll see if I can take care of the location validation.

Does anyone know why engineering salaries are so low in Chicago? Especially with regards to city size / cost of living / amount of tech?

It baffled me when I lived there, and it still baffles me when I don't.

Chicago is so incredibly cheap compared to NYC or SF. You can actually afford to own something in the most desirable parts of Chicago and can still have the benefit of not having to own a car in many cases. I thought about relocating to Chicago (it's a great, underrated city) and was shocked how cheap the rent was in places like Lincoln Park. I could just buy a place. I can't say that about NYC or SF where rents are more than double. What you pay $3,300.00/month for in NYC or SF you can get for $1,500.00/month in Chicago.

Places I looked at also included parking. In a place like NYC or SF a parking spot can cost over $800.00/month. There's just so many wealthy people in NYC and SF and so much more demand for limited living space.

Cost of living will influence salaries a lot.

Have to agree. I grew up in Chicago and moved to New York about 4 years ago. My W2 income in NYC is about 3x higher than it was in Chicago, though I am better at my job now than I was then so it's not all a cost-of-living adjustment.

Anyway, I've begun the house search in New York City. I'm looking for a 1 bedroom apartment, in some place like Brooklyn Heights, Carrol Gardens, Gowanus, etc. Not Midtown Manhattan or Tribeca. Setting the budget to $700,000, literally everything available is a tiny shithole. I did find a small 1 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn Heights that's nice. 3 million dollars.

I did the same search in Chicago. For half the money, you can get 1500 square feet, with nice modern finishings, 13 foot ceilings, etc. right downtown. If I were buying in Chicago, my conundrum would be "this is really too much space, my house is going to feel _empty_".

The NYC and SF housing situation is really quite insane. The best career move I can imagine making is keeping my current salary and literally moving anywhere else in the world, except maybe London. The rest of the world is dirt cheap compared to NYC and the bay area. It's so crazy.

Good luck on the search - NYC is its own animal when it comes to real estate. $700,000 isn't going find much except maybe a studio. I've seen 1 bedrooms in that range but they are generally undesirable units in an otherwise nice building. Plus you still have the maintenance fee's and taxes.

I'm not an expert but my opinion is the NYC housing market isn't a deal right now or even a fair value. I'm not saying it's a bubble, but it's certainly not cheap. If I stay here I'm just going to keep saving and see if I get lucky with a housing dip and my savings intact.

Plus, if you buy into a co-op (more common in Manhattan I believe) the purchase requirements are steep. Often 30% down, 2 years mortgage/maintenance/taxes in liquid cash available, among other things. High entry requirements but creates some stability.

I really think renting is cheaper than buying in NYC right now when you factor in all the costs. You get a nice tax write off with owning, to be sure, but it's a wash I've figured. I don't see how prices can keep getting higher and higher right now. But I thought that 4 years ago too in places in Brooklyn and I was wrong.

What's funny is my only other real option is to move to London since my wife is from there and would eventually like to move back I think. Their housing market is in fact a bubble and I simply wouldn't buy anywhere near there right now.

I agree it's not a fair value right now. Brooklyn is certainly in a bubble, or if not a bubble, a period of aggressive overpricing. I don't think prices are going to fall, causing one to lose money if they buy right now... but I also don't think that you're going to resell your $1M one-bedroom in Gowanus for $2M in 5 years. Objectively, that's a lot of money.

You're definitely competing with households that have two incomes, hence 3 million dollars being spent on one bedroom apartments. If you have a household income of $1M a year pre-tax, certainly a possibility for two programmers mid-career, then you have a lot of options.

Personally, I don't care about living in New York except that my job is here, so it may be nearing the time to move back to Chicago.

Seems like you should be able to get something decent for $800,000 [which matches up with my understanding of what a 1br costs on UWS].


Note, I could be wrong. These could be the worst places you're talking about. But it seems like there are at least a few around 800k, and the housing market moves fast [so you'll see lots of options if you look for a couple months].

So, to buy a co-op for $800,000 you need:

20% down: $160,000 24 months mortgage in the bank: $68,000 24 months maintenance/property tax in the bank: $36,000

For a total of $264,000 not including closing costs. I don't have $264,000 lying around at this precise moment.

$600,000 is my real budget. $700,000 is for searching and getting an idea of "what if I wait another year and save up some more money".

All in all I'm not that excited. My apartment that I rent for $2500/month is way better than any of those places that turn up. And by "way better", I mean "still an embarrassment compared to the house I grew up in when I was a kid, that cost less than the down payment for a studio in Brooklyn". I don't even have a microwave.

Not to mention even if you have every lined up you can still get rejected by the co-op board and they don't have to give a reason. They go through all your personal details and it's a bit odd living with a bunch of people who know everything about you but you're not able to learn anything about them.

20% down is usually the bottom. A lot of places want 25% or 30% down and there's also a chance you're going against someone with 100% cash and the board will pick them nearly every time.

Lastly, if you're using every dime you have so you get a mortgage well over 500k that may be a bad choice. The opportunity cost of tying that much cash up into a mortgage is a lot of risk (all your net worth in 1 investment) and you're unable to use that cash to make other investments and leverage them if need be.


I don't look at real-estate as an investment, but rather as a sunk cost. I need somewhere to live, I want to screw around with walls and plumbing fixtures when I feel like it, owning seems like the right option.

Of course you don't actually own your co-op, you just own shares in a company that actually owns your property.

Agreed :/

Housing sucks.

But to nit; I believe a coop is only 10% down (condos are 20%. Either way it doesn't really change your math). And I'm still years from being able to buy a place in NYC, so sigh

You will never find a co-op that lets you be a member at 10%. 20% is the minimum I've seen and usually you're looking at 25% or 30%. And there's a chance someone with all cash will simply be a better fit for them.

Please find me a Co-Op in NYC that lets you in with 10%.

This is the reason I'm still in Chicago. I have wanted to move to SF since 2010, but it just doesn't make sense for my (now) wife and I financially. Recruiters who have called me with job offers in SF just don't have a big enough of a pay bump to make it worth it. It really sucks, because we would love to move to the bay area, we just can't get over the amazing setup we have in Chicago.

According to cost of living calculators, I would need ~250k in SF to be equal to my comp in Chicago, and my wife would need ~135k. My salary increase to be at parity is probably doable, but from other people's posts, it would require a pretty good job that included RSUs. I'm also not in a 100% development role, which I think I would need to do in order to get that kind of pay in SF, and it would probably be hard to break into (plus I just turned 30, I'm an old man now, hah).

My quality of life in my area is huge compared to the seemingly slave like conditions people face in SF. No thanks. If I wanted sun I would go to LA anyways.

I don't know about downtown, since I'm a suburbanite, but I've found in the Chicago area, it's generally cheaper to buy than rent. My first place was a condo, because renting was pretty much throwing money away.

And if you can suffer the commute, in the suburbs, you get a condo AND a parking spot for $800 a month. o_o

I agree. When I was doing an apartment search I started to realize renting wasn't worth it in Chicago if you have the funds to buy. My goal was to find a 6 month lease so I could figure out where I wanted to buy. I'm a city guy so the 'burbs aren't for me. I've heard that condo's are being built rather rapidly in the city so the demand curve has stayed steady resulting in stable and affordable prices. I wish I could say the same about NYC. Even as more and more places are being built there are more and more people moving here keeping demand unbelievably high.

But alas, the move was not to be (for now anyways).

My anecdata having worked in Seattle and Chicago now:

Chicago's 'tech scene' is mostly either trading or tech applied in an incremental way to an existing business model, eg Groupon. The trading firms do pay quite well, but you'll be in an extreme niche and likely have limited insight into how you could ever leave, given you've not been building products/programming so much as coding performance improvements. The few "hard tech" companies I've seen come from Chicago are either a generation old at this point (eg Motorola) or have gone under (eg TempoIQ).

The other fact of Chicago is, most of the tech talent here is here for reasons beyond having the best job ever. When I moved back, just about no one could believe that I didn't have a family/significant other/etc reason to move back beyond the job itself. When you have a market like that, employers have some buying power with the talent that does need to stay here. There's simply so few alternatives to the situation, given there's also little appetite for significantly striking out on your own, compared to the coast.

Edit: I'll also say the appetite for go big or go home company growth is limited here. Can't tell you the last time I saw a "shoot for the moon" idea originate in Chicago. There are pros/cons to that, admittedly.

Having done the same (Seattle then Chicago) trading is big here, and pays well, but can be less than rewarding if you like building products.

That being said, I think there are plenty of interesting tech companies here if you dig a bit. For example, CleverSafe (https://www.cleversafe.com/), Signal (http://www.signal.co/), and BrainTree (https://www.braintreepayments.com/) are larger ones with real engineering challenges.

And, if you are interested in a smaller Chicago company doing interesting things, feel free to check out Earshot (http://earshotinc.com/careers) - we are hiring. </plug>

Even if Earshot isn't right for you feel free to connect with me if you are interested in the Chicago startup scene.

This conforms to a somewhat surreal experience I had talking to an internal recruiter in Chicago a few months ago.

"Oh, you already have offers on the table in NYC and Boston, with no family here? Yeah, I understand why you wouldn't be interested in Chicago"

Easier to hire here, supposedly. Fewer tech firms by comparison to SF/NY -> less competition for applicants.

I'm in Chicago making ~95k and these threads the last couple days have been ever so mildly depressing, with people graduating same year as me and making $323k.

I mean, for what it's worth they say quality of life barely changes once you're past a threshold.[1] So I wouldn't worry about it too much.


I don't think that's actually completely true. See: http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/danielgilbert/files/if-mone...

I just have a hard time believing that. It's a funny contradiction because I know perfectly well I'm not really much happier now at $95k than I was at $60k, or working in a park for minimum wage a decade ago, but at the same time there's so much I'd like to do that I don't because I'm trying to save money, and at $323k it would be pretty effortless to save massively and do whatever I wanted.

The things you want to do start to expand when you have more money, plus in the first place your budget for mundane shit blows out due to lifestyle inflation. If you socialise with other people in the same income bracket, it's going to happen.

Right, this will naturally happen for most people, but if you're mindful of this effect you can work to curb it if you choose.

There are people in the top 1% who "feel poor" - because they live in expensive homes, drive luxury cars, feel the need to send their kids to the most expensive private schools, and have friends who own yachts - and there are millionaires who basically live like they make $80,000. I would aim more toward the latter (although obviously going too far in that direction can be unhealthy too).

I think this article is better researched: https://80000hours.org/articles/everything-you-need-to-know-...

I left Chicago for a job and I totally regret it. 95k in Chicago is a really good living.

To add another reason beyond just cost of living: Chicago has a bunch of really high quality engineering schools nearby that produce an absolute ton of engineers. You have people from UIUC, Northwestern, Purdue, IUB, UWMadison, and Michigan all moving to chicago after graduation. It creates a sort of glut in the labor supply.

A lot of them cannot or just don't want to move far away for more pay. A lot of the grads are from chicago or smaller midwestern cities.

Social status. Developers don't have high social status in Chicago, whereas in the Bay Area, they do.

I don't care what people say, pay is all just social status. Even relatively objective measures like, "I made the company XX" are only possible in the scope of narrow consulting engagements, and such estimates are hazy.

Trying to quantify the long-term economic value of an employee is even worse.

This. The value of social status could be easily tested by exchanging a high salary for significant ownership of the company. My bet is that people would be just as happy.

Someone here recently ranted a bit against the fact that bright minds work in finance on useless work instead of greater things. The one answer from such a worker was about the huge difference between management compensation and worker compensation in those other, "more important" fields. Not the absolute salary.

When you adjust for cost of living, Chicago actually isn't that bad. After adjusting for COL, it's actually fairly high, according to: http://tgeonetta.com/cost-of-living-vs-salary-best-cities-fo...

Interested in your opinion on what the range should be, currently struggling with knowing my true value in this market.

This has been on my mind for awhile. My current theory is that Chicago companies don't need top talent and there are plenty of non-top talent engineers. simple supply and demand.

This makes me wonder how many people are okay with being underpaid. Like my title is officially VP of Engineering. But because of the circumstances of my position and what I was hired to do, I am probably making less than what someone in my position gets in sign on bonuses. $30,000/yr

This is because I am not only the first employee but the only employee (if you don't count CEO) and only technical person. I was hired to build a SaaS/Company by the owner of a company and to make that company it's first official customer of the SaaS. I'm being paid out of his pocket and the profits of his company. The pay isn't even close to what a software engineer with my experience should make, let alone the VP of Engineering. But it's above average salary in my state/area and is enough for me to live on.

I had a similar setup (though not a fancy title) for around $40k/yr if I worked full time for the whole year (I only did part time during spring/fall semesters). There was a gentleman's understanding that if the company got acquired for big bucks, I'd be taken care of, but we never formalized a stock option agreement. Eventually we shut down, but I was on my last couple semesters of college and had enough saved up that I wouldn't need to be concerned about funds until around 4 months after graduation. Got a BigCo job after graduating, making over 3 times the former amount while doing less interesting (and less intense) work. I could go back to a "low" salary job ("low" considering almost everyone I knew from high school is making $40k or less) especially if the work was nicer since my expenses have only gone up a bit, but now I'd rather build up a decades-sized nest egg first (and in less than a decade of time) even at the cost of my soul.

All I can offer you is it only matters if you define yourself by your salary, which in my experience will only leave you feeling pretty hollow.

I have worked for companies where I was underpaid but the work was great and the co-workers were amazing and now I work for a company where the work is boring but the pay is excellent (like you, for where I live) which makes more sense for my family right now. I'm okay with it, but I miss the old work environment.

In the near future I'd prefer to be making more. But when I was hired I specifically made it a requirement that I am paid at least enough to support my family and myself in the area. My state's average income is 24k/yr so I'm 6k above that. Which with my cost of living leaves me with a decent amount of money to survive and pay for my families needs.

I sure hope you're getting a big chunk of equity as the technical co-founder.

I'm pretty positive I'm in full control of this company. I've taken reigns and made all the decisions. CEO has pitched in his requests, but ultimately has put me in full control, that being said I'm sure while my title says VP of Engineering (for his parent company by the way) I will become the CTO and co-founder of this company when it launches.

Yeah, I said the same thing.

But at least I ended up with some interesting stories to tell when I interviewed for my next job.

Seriously, you're putting a lot of faith in people who have every reason to screw you over. Even if they seem like they're on your side now, things change. In a couple of years when there's the genuine prospect of real money, there's a big risk that their attitude will change.

Or when you start saying "no" to impossible deadlines you'll see who actually makes the decisions.

And you are replaceable. They can make you feel good by getting you to hire a few people, and then encourage you to train them up and hand things over so you're not a key person risk, and then they don't need you any more.

Or maybe they'll just make a really dumb decision and get rid of the person that actually held everything together for all that time without having a sensible plan for the future. It happens. And that feeling of vindication when you watch it all fall apart without you doesn't make up for all the money you gave up when you gave them a "we're all in this together" discount on your wages.

> I'm pretty positive I'm in full control of this company.

That means you're not.

> I've taken reigns and made all the decisions.

For which they are well within their rights to pay you $0 for upon termination.

> I will become the CTO and co-founder of this company when it launches.

Then it should be no trouble to get that in writing to protect yourself.

Read this tweetstorm: https://twitter.com/patio11/status/710191728763015169

Get equity or get out - make the promises binding.

First off, I made the decision to go for equity last time place I worked. That does not always equate to being a founder. I was the only non-founder with equity and when I was fired (for being burnt out but that's another story) I lost in the end.

On top of that, being the only technical person and have full control over everything, including domains, hosting, code, etc. It's not really like I can be forced out.

>I'm pretty positive I'm in full control of this company

That you don't know pretty much guarantees you have zero legal control. I assume the corporate entity is not in your name. Domains, hosting, etc are all very easily gotten from you by a single letter from a lawyer. You will likely hire your own lawyer, and you'll essentially be paying him to tell that you have to cough up, because you'll lose in court, in addition to tens of thousands of dollars and a ruined reputation.

Yes you can.

You were paid for those things. You can't hold them ransom.

>being the only technical person and have full control over everything, including domains, hosting, code, etc.

Holding this stuff hostage would not work out well and should not be considered a contingency plan.

It is like you can be forced out. Get a binding legal agreement.

Oh dear, you're fucked.

Titles at startups (especially early-early stage) are somewhat negligible. Since you don't manage any engineers and not dealing with the responsibilities of a VP of Engineering of say, a 200-500 FTE startup, you shouldn't hinge too much on your title.

I'm really not hinging on it, I just gave it because title seemed to be requirement of this form. I really am just a software engineer, because like you said, in a 2 man company, titles really don't make a difference.

I know the feeling. I make $46k/year as (mostly) a Ruby on Rails/Javascript dev, but without moving to another city (likely in another state), there are no reasonable alternative job prospects. Not really okay with it, but I don't want to move to NY/SF/LA as lifestyle there is so much more miserable. (Current work: 7 to 15 minute commute, decent time off, can be hiking in the great outdoors within 30 minutes, and still bike downtown in 10/15 minutes. Mortgage runs less than rent in the Bay Area by large amounts...)

I don't know what state you are in, but that is very low for RoR/JS dev. There are remote-only positions that would pay double that easily. That would mean 0 minute and you can stay where you are.

Where/how does one find such positions?

There are job boards that specialize in listings that are willing to accept remote workers. http://weworkremotely.com is one.

You could also easily top that on an online freelancing site like Upwork. I have friends that are Upwork-exclusive and make upwards of $200k per year. It takes a while to get that going, but it's a great option if you can swing it.

For the remote workers among you, the similar freelancing spreadsheet might be interested.


Your link isn't working for me.

It's been flagged off. You need showdead enabled in your profile to see it. It links out to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/153HRp3cKx2wMWckCOGGJIttLDX2... . It doesn't appear there are any responses at the moment.

WeWorkRemotely (remote by default), StackOverflow Careers (remote checkbox), Indeed ("remote" keyword search)

Glad you're happy, but $46k is too low. If you've been at this for 2-3+ years look for a remote position! Even something like $60-70k will be a lot better.

My point exactly. I'd not be able to support my family as well as I do in SF on even typical engineer salary. Cost of living alone makes my "low" salary worth it to me.

I am going to give you a different feedback. Find something else that pays you what you are worth. If you really want to help this company, find them someone else who would take $30k and when you get your big salary elsewhere invest in it.

Also it is a lot easier to go from Big co to tiny co later in your career than the other way around.

This is likely to hurt you in the long run.

I wouldn't say that I am okay with being underpaid, exactly, but I have come to semi-grudgingly accept that I simply don't find money motivating enough for its own sake to put up with the drudgery and boredom that always seem to come along with the jobs offering more of it. Good jobs don't pay and paying jobs aren't good, as a first approximation.

Assuming you have significant equity in the company, add that information.

For anyone wanting to download it, which I don't believe it is set to allow since there was no such UI present to allow it I found that this link[1] downloads the spreadsheet in CSV format:

1. https://spreadsheets.google.com/feeds/download/spreadsheets/...

Anyone know why Excel's giving me errors about circular references?

Glaring differences between US and European developer salaries. In europe >100k salaries in western/scandinavian countries are quite uncommon for anything below team lead/CTO level while lots of junior guys seem to earn that kind of money in the US.

For sure, I actually pulled salary statistics from Swedish Statistics yesterday. From 2014, the latest available figure. Estimate an average of 2-3% salary growth per year since.

For the category 2512, "Software- and Systemsdeveloper etc.", which is VERY broad but includes most developers and Application Experts (which is the role I currently have), the 90th percentile salary is $81-82k. The 10th percentile is $40k.

Median salary for men is $60k, and every so slightly lower for women.

To be fair to European salaries, you need to convert them to pre-tax numbers. There is a 33% employer's tax that is not counted in the numbers shown here. So 50% should be added to the salaries in the spreadsheet for Scandinavia at least to more accurately reflect the pre-tax numbers.

TL;DR: in Europe salaries are usually discussed after taxes, whereas that amount with all taxes (on both employee and employer) can raise that sum around 2 times or more.

Don't forget the huge system difference.

Are those salaries before taxes or after taxes? Europeans like to know their salary after taxes. Health benefits, PTO, parental leave? In US it's totally under your company's grace, where in Europe most of this is set by law.

All in all salaries are counted different, if employee in Europe has a salary (after taxes) of 30k €, then usually around 15-25k € went for taxes. Thus salary before taxation 45-55k €. Nevertheless employer must pay for that employee somewhere in between 5-15k € (at least in my country) of employer taxes (which are not part of employees salary, but employer is taxes according to it). So whole cost of one employee who is compensated 30k € after taxes is 50-70k €.

Of course it depends on the country and there are 'tax havens'.

At least where i live (Germany) salaries are never compared after taxes because the tax situation is very individual and influenced hugely by a lot of things like marriage, kids and other income. Also health care payments are influenced by a lot of factors as well. So it makes little sense to compare net pay.

And even then, a good salary for a software developer with good experience would be 60k-80k pre taxes here, usually no bonuses or stock grants, so 100-150k in the US for juniors is still a big difference and imo comes down to the fact of huge competition in the market more than anything.

Where in the US are Juniors regularly getting 100k to 150k?I need to move if this is the case.

Which country do you have in mind? I have lived in 3 EU countries and get offers from others and the discussion about salary has always been assumed to be on the pre-tax amount.

Are you sure?

In the UK, it's always gross, pre-(employee-paid)-tax yearly salary.

In Slovenia, on the other hand, it's usually net, post-tax, monthly salary.

Norwegian salaries are always quoted pre-tax, and are similar to those that GP mention, in Sweden. Most skilled Norwegian devs would double their salary if they moved to the US. Why this is the case would be a very interesting question to get answered.

I think the results spreadsheet and how disorganized the results are is the answer to the question "why not". Most people just omitted the employer name, which I believe is the most significant factor to one’s salary.

I omitted the employer name because I don't live in SF and would be easily identifiable if I didn't.

Wow, after ~90 submissions there have been 0 female-identified entries :/

I'm one of the only women I know who posts here. I'm afraid it's not a particularly friendly community for women, and it does get old seeing the same stupid flamewars about gender and women in the industry and feminism et cetera ad infinitum.

>"I'm afraid it's not a particularly friendly community for women"

Anti-female, sexist, or insensitive-about-female-issue posts regularly get downvoted and flagged, from what I've seen.

The worst posts certainly get downvoted and flagged. The problem is the posts that sound reasonable but aren't. It gets tiring and somewhat depressing trying to educate people about the same things over and over again.

That could be because lots of people just ignore these topics on a Web site. I'll argue in person, but it achieves nothing over the Web except to annoy me, so I pass over the comments or articles.

Not intending to talk down your comment, but some of the most annoying gender-topic discussions I see on HN are the ones of the variety "there is no gender problem in tech/on HN/online". And there's plenty of those, including flagging/deletion of threads that bring up a legitimate discussion or an under-discussed perspective of this.

The fact that this comment was downvoted with no reply is an excellent example of the unfriendliness I'm describing.

Thanks for your kind words, I'm glad I'm not the only one that's seeing this problem. I did get lots of upvotes for a comment on the "post your typical HN headline" thread a year ago, to which I sarcastically replied "Why we have a gender problem in tech [flagged]". So at least a proportion of HN users care about this.

I'm not even a feminist; in fact I'm vehemently in favor of equal treatment and opportunities but against special treatment except maybe if it's a strictly temporary measure. But at the risk of using feminist rhetoric, it's almost as if there's an invisible wall that prevents these issues being seriously treated. It's incredibly annoying. Maybe it's a US thing, I see less of it at home in Scandinavia. Europe in general is either-or, I guess.

We have our share of gender discrimination problems (going in both directions), but this particular variety seems less prevalent. I really hope this gets better over time, or that there are good ways to avoid the problem. Must be annoying to deal with when you only want to do a good job and participate on equal terms in the community.

I agree that a sizable proportion of HN users care about this stuff. It seems to be the people who check the site less often. Usually the downvotes come right away, and the long tail of upvotes comes later.

And yes, it is incredibly annoying. I would very much prefer to be talking about dependencies and package (mis)management or whatever. If the gender equality issues would go away I would be quite glad to never mention them again.

Perhaps people are coming here to discuss things, not to be "educated."

I certainly hope not. To me the entire value of Hacker News is being educated about things I don't understand, by people who know exactly what they're talking about.

And you're surprised by this? I've worked with maybe ~50 engineers directly, and 4 of them were female.

there's probably a bit of sampling bias

After 500+ submissions there are ~10 female-identified entries (~2%).

There are also entries from people who identify as space lizards and attack helicopters, so I wouldn't consider anything in that field to be of value to anyone.

You're telling us the presence of joke entries somehow negates the absence of women? That logic makes no sense.

Just look at the number of flagged posts in this thread - it's obvious Hacker News can't take the concept of gender seriously. Why should the data be taken seriously?

You're implying most women submitting identify as men on the grounds of a joke entry and flagged posts.

I don't think these are related.

Interesting data, added my own to the list.

Not sure why I imagined there wouldn't be any blatant trolls/ads on an anonymous Google Doc survey, but most of this info is still incredibly insightful!

As a sidenote: results may be incredibly skewed as there is no currency indicator, I'd imagine lots of fellow Canadians would be putting down CAD which is currently down 24 cents...

What I'd like to see is a salary aggregator that works as a native app only:

1) It should use the Facebook model of release where only "elite" institutions are allowed on at first and only one at a time.

2) It should use geolocation as a way to verify the user works there (other ways are easier to game or too burdensome). Yes, this does leave out remote workers. See #1.

It's trivial to game geolocation, e.g.: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lexa.fakeg...

Sure, but 1. even a small amount of friction will cut off the vast majority from doing it, especially when 2. there's no payoff to lying about your location in a salary transparency app

If there's no payoff, then why gate via location in the first place?

Because it's currently full of junk entries where people say they work on the moon

So then there is a payoff to lying?

Funny you bring up Facebook, because what I you really need to solve this type of problem is something like Facesmash. (sidenote: I don't know if that was actually a real thing or just something in The Social Network.)

You want /r/roastme for coworkers-- but private. Somewhere that you can rank former coworkers and they can rank you-- But the biggest selling point needs to be that this dossier is only ever available to you. NEVER to potential employers, coworkers, etc.

There are some interesting problems-- like delaying/masking the changing in your ELO such that it can't be tied to people you know have ranked you, otherwise you'll get an obvious bias because people don't want to risk a burnt bridge.

But I think if people are honest about their salaries on such a site, you can give them a reasonable idea of if they're being underpaid.

Go for it!

"you can export the whole sheet and perform your own analysis or just copy the sheet and use Google Spreadsheet to run formulas and/or generate charts/graphs."

I can't see a way to get the data out of there other than saving as a html page, there are no standard google docs controls available. Am I missing something?

You can use google sheets IMPORTRANGE function to make your own copy. For example:

=IMPORTRANGE("1a1Df6dg2Pby1UoNlZU2l0FEykKsQKttu7O6q7iQd2bU", "'Salaries'!A:L")

If you remove htmlview from the end of the URL, you'll get the regular view with the option to download from the File menu.

Actually, that wasn't enough for me. I had to open a different sheet, and replace /htmlview?usp=sharing&sle=true with /edit#gid=XXXXXXXXXX (replaces the XXXXXXX with your number)

If you have Excel, you can use Data -> Import from Website

I've seen this happen a few times. Seattle has had a few salary spreadsheets go around. It generally stays low level (under 5 years) and eventually gets flooded with fakes.

I wonder if what we really need is for it to just be straight public with your name attached.

What if LinkedIn had a salary section? Let you display your current or historical salary. Would people do that? Say what they make? Seems unlikely. What if it's what they used to make?

In Sweden this information is all public and searchable. So far their economy and culture hasn't collapsed.

Doing this on LinkedIn would be really bad, because that data would be out there for recruiters, and you'd lose most of your leverage when trying to negotiate at a new job.

Or you'd get contacted my recruiters offering you sacks of cash. Or you'd get an offer and be able to see what current employees and competitor employees make.

Secret salary information has near exclusive financial benefit to the employer. The only employee benefit is protecting their feeling.

The slight danger of this "post your salary" trend is that it's really difficult to make comparisons out of context. Someone is going to go to their supervisor and say, "Hey, it says that a senior dev is getting paid $200k/yr at Company X. I want $200k too!" and then their supervisor is going to say, "Well, we don't feel that you're worth that much money."

And now what? The supervisor could be 100% right, and maybe the employee just isn't worth that amount of money. Or maybe it doesn't make for the company to pay that amount of money. The employee could claim discrimination for any of a number of reasons, and it's almost impossible to prove that person X isn't worth as much to the company as person Y is to a different company. It seems like it could just create acrimony in what was previously a good relationship.

Transparency in pay is important, but it's almost impossible to evaluate in an empirical way, much less a scientific one. Not to mention that there is wide discretion in compensation. It's illegal to pay someone less because of their race or gender, but employers can pay someone an extra $5k a year just because they liked the color of their tie during the last negotiation.

Get paid what you're worth, but don't depend entirely on others to find out what that is.

Absolutely, of course, without a spreadsheet like this, its really damn hard to know what ballpark "get paid what you're worth" even is. At least with numbers like this, a few visualizations accounting for remote/office, and geographic location people will know the appropriate ballpark figures to work towards.

It would be nice if a simple spreadsheet could include minimum PTO/year and some anecdotal average working hours (does everyone live at the office? or not?)

Try salary.com. You put in your zip code and job title, if your company does "unique" titles you may have to translate into something relevant to the industry. It even includes things like retirement matching, paid days off, etc. It's free, and with loads more data than this silly spreadsheet will ever get.

I think the form would benefit from having the calendar year as well, as these numbers change enough over a few years.

Wow, those are some surprisingly low salaries.

Anyone want to team up to do my work for me? I show up and be 'the face', and then you take 50% of what I make. We both win.

Either that, or I give you all a class in negotiation. :-)

Guessing people with high salaries are probably hesitant to put them there for the fear of somehow being identified or tracked. People with lower or average salaries probably have no reservations sharing their salary.

Yeah I'm surprised too. As a new graduate, Its kinda scary when you're making more than people with 10yrs of experience. Hope its not writing on the wall :(

Until someone tries to skew the numbers by saying they make $275,000 as a female SDE1 at Microsoft (row 130).

Or you get entries like Line 126..

At least line 518 was honest...

Did anyone else notice the weird GNU/Linux screed on line 803? In particular, the "Additional Comments" content is actually written with a large amount of look-alike Unicode. Playing around with this data in Excel somehow byte-shifted it into garbage. I noticed that other folks thought it would be funny to put things like =SUM(G1:G1000) in other cells, but this seems a little bit more sinister for some reason. Anyone savvy enough in UTF-8 to deduce what's going on there?

I don't see anything weird (except that it's a useless entry). The Additional Comments column has a long quote by Stallman starting "I'd like to interject for a moment..."


Depending on the system you use to view the text, many of the characters are actually printed using non-Roman lookalike characters that still render as the "usual" ones.

In OSX / Firefox I see the usual text in the web view, but in source view there's a variation in shading between characters, in what should be an unadorned monospaced font. Viewing the same source in Chrome shows the trick for what it is...


Subtle and not always visible due to differences in display normalization in various libraries? Way out of my depth for system fonts / encoding issues. But hopefully the above shows what I'm talking about. Could there be some data hidden in the lookalike string values?


$122K in RDU seems very high for a developer/engineer, strange.

It is high, but it depends on experience and who they work for. More common for people with 5-7yr experience is in the 90-110k range, but it's not abnormal to find skilled folks at places like SAS, Cisco, Citrix, Redhat, MS, Lenovo, BASF, IBM, NetApp, and many more earning above mean salaries.

Source: live in RDU, was an engineering director until last summer, hired lots of people here over the years and know a bunch more. What's disturbing is the number of companies only hiring contractors or contract-to-hire engineers around here.

That's very interesting. I'm in the area and thought it would skew lower, even for ~18 years experience like in the spreadsheet. It would be nice to know the company for that particular row.

> What's disturbing is the number of companies only hiring contractors or contract-to-hire engineers around here.

So, no different than anywhere else.

I need to look harder in RDU then, because I love North Carolina and would love the pay raise.

If you prefer working in financial services, you can also check all the banks in Charlotte. Also, MetLife & Fidelity are constantly hiring like mad in Cary/Morrisville.

Actually, I prefer embedded development. I could do financial services, but I'm not sure I want to.

What's normal, in your experience, around the area? Thinking about moving out there and would love to talk more, email's in my profile.

Oh, I'm in Dallas. "Normal" here is apparently ~$95,000 for 10 - 15 years experience.

What/where is RDU?

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina is what it usually means, there's a lot of programming and biomedical business in the area between the 3 cities because we have 3 colleges in the area to feed new talent in for a lot of different fields.

(PS: When in doubt check airport codes.)

Ah, thanks - it was the U that threw me off..

Raleigh/Durham North Carolina. RDU is the call for the international airport.

Others will also refer to it as RTP, but that's really a specific area in RDU.

Raleigh/Durham NC - we're probably the biggest tech hub behind Austin.

Hardly. Atlanta, NYC, Chicago, Seattle, etc are all much bigger than RTP. It's nice here, but it ain't that good.

Er, behind Austin. Austin is probably behind all of those save for maybe ATL, I don't know much about the tech scene there.

Bigger than NYC?

NYC is behind Austin? I would put Austin #5 behind SFBA, NYC, Seattle, and Boston.

Most of the Clojure community seems centered in Durham now. Pretty wild.

Cognitect (where Rich Hickey works and Clojure is maintained) is based in Durham.

It's not that high. Cisco for one pays very well. Not sure about IBM, NetApp, or some of the others, but that's expected around here.

Uh, I mean, that was a total fluke, there are no jobs here, go on about your business... ;)

I made $99K with about 7ish years experience and had friends that were in the $130K range about 5 years ago. It seemed high then too.

I was interviewing when I found the $99K job and another company said they'd pay $80K, but want to me work minimum 60 hours.

Welp. Seeing how someone with similar stats makes 6 times as much as you do feels a bit weird.

Could you update the last item, about stock, to include annual , so it's clear. 100k over 4 years is different than over 1 year.

Oops, took care of that.

>Location: Must be a number greater than 0

Locations shouldn't be limited to numbers. Also, now that the salary field is limited to numbers, it should be clear which currency everything should be converted to, since people can't put their currencies in the column anymore.

Sorry, should work now.

It's intriguing to see such a wide variety when it comes to salary, bonus, stock, etc. I think there are a lot of mitigating circumstances when it comes to how employers think about salaries and it's not a "one size fits all" model. Seeing this makes it easy for someone on the surface to think they're getting a raw deal if they see their job title along with a higher salary than they're getting paid. Hopefully more information will be transparent and people will get numbers like these in better context. It's not to justify the level of salary, but to provide more background since everyone's background is different.

Didn't realize that $80k straight out of college was that high until I saw this. Wow.

All depends on the area ;)

Best offers I have seen out of college is $130K total comp from random people on the internet, haven't seen anything better yet.

I'm just wondering why a lot of these people with tons of experience are settling for sub-$70k jobs. Is there a reason for this?

I was hired for $65k or so after a 6-month job search left me financially drained. There was the promise that typical raises could go into the 10% or more per year region, with a possible promotion to a Senior Software Engineer position, but after a sister company had a poor year of growth and a lawsuit hit my company this past year, I'm at-or-under $70k. It's awful, especially when given that I work 44-48 hours per week and given that my domain knowledge is incredibly broad and I know my specialities inside-and-out, and have a Master's. I was really expecting an appropriate pay raise recently because my work helped my company sign a new client who's something like 100x their size, their "chump change" is, like, double everything the startup makes.

Part of the reason that I'm staying is because I'm in a tremendous amount of debt and therefore I've become extremely paranoid and risk-averse. Part of the reason is that said debt has me working a second job and I am in a largely-dysfunctional relationship besides, so I have very little energy outside of this job. Part of the reason is that I have gained 80 pounds and no longer fit into any nice clothes for a job interview, with very little chance of me getting anything nice any time soon.

Man, that paragraph makes me sound like such a downer. I promise that I'm really happy and easygoing most of the time! That's just the more-sober reality of why I find it a huge struggle to jump onto some new thing.

That was a sad paragraph. :( If you want to lose the 80 lbs without too much difficulty, there's always https://www.reddit.com/r/keto

May I suggest sending out your resume to companies that would pay better? You're going to be taken advantage of as long as you let them.

It's a big country, the salaries are distorted by SF/SV, NYC and select other large employers.

Where I live in a rural small town, I make top 5% tech salary (~80k$ canadian pesos). The same salary in Montreal is probably 25-30 percentile of tech salary? In Vancouver it probably would be 45th percentile of tech salaries. That said a the price of a Vancouver condo buys a Montreal Duplex and buys a whole New Brunswick suburban sub-division... Or a mansion with a few acres on the sea front and 5 bedrooms / 7 baths...

I'm wondering the opposite what does one even do with more than $70K?

I'm doing an apprenticeship starting when I was 17 year old and I only earn $11K (I don't pay income tax because it's so low) and yet I managed to save up 8k because I live with my parents right now and except maybe buying a car I don't even know what to spend it on.

For context rent is here at about $400/month for a single bedroom apartment. Another $300/month is enough to cover food and utilities for at least two people.

Unless you want to retire in san francisco or some big city there is no real advantage to buying a home there. So are you buying a new tesla every two years? Are you buying a macbook/iphone/high-end gaming pc every month? I honestly have no clue.

EDIT: Maybe I should also mention that the company will pay me at least $30k/y after the apprenticeship.

Here's some general idea about how people spend their money, not that you couldn't figure this out on your own.

Houses: 100k-1mm

Cars: 15-80k (each)

Vacations/Travel: 2-10k/year

Expensive Clothing: $3-5k/year

Jewelry: $0-5k/year

Hobbies: $1-20k/year

Entertainment/Dining/Drinks: $1-20k/year

Retirement & Other Investments: $0 - 50k/year

Repeat some of that stuff for their children, add college expenses, maybe private school.

Those are just some examples that I largely based off of my sister. She is constantly expanding/improving her home (bathroom remodel and new pool in the past 18 months), she loves big expensive jewelry, she has designer purses and clothing, they have 4 cars which all have TVs and other fancy options in them, they have a class A RV, her husband builds cars & races at the track, they have young boys and everyone has a dirtbike, boys have modern toys/video games/etc.

You might think "wow, that's ridiculous," but really they're just spending to their level of income. It's pretty common.

You, on the other hand, seem to be more like me. Of my salary I'm required to spend 8.2% on my mortgage, so I don't default. I've started a homestead that I've been buying a lot of tools and equipment for. My utilities come out to another ~1.5% of my salary. Everything else is savings, and/or thrown on to the mortgage. I'm going to pay my mortgage off fully in ~18-24 months (total time). I have no other debts and after that I can save 100% of my salary. I'd like to maybe build a new home on this homestead someday, but I'm not going to go into debt to build it. In the meantime, the salary affords me the luxury of no financial concerns and the ability to help others when they need it.

If I had no debts or ambitions to own property, and I didn't mind living in a small single bedroom apartment like your example, I would spend the $700/month on my living expenses and save the rest. I'd probably dip into savings to visit another country each year. I'd retire early.

In the end, that's your real answer. Savings & retirement funds. You just haven't thought that far ahead because you're very young.

I guess a great question is... are they happy with it? I like my current employer, they're the kind of company I want to work for. I actually stated the salary I wanted upfront, and they gave it to me. It isn't particularly high, but it covers my needs and then some. It was a bit more than my salary at my last job, which was fine with me.

I have a Toyota. I don't need a Tesla.

I am a (relatively) happy person.

What more could I want?

I'm still in college, so I wouldn't have any idea. But my guess is they don't want to move to a higher COL and are settled or they just don't know how much they are worth on the open market.

One thing that I have noticed at my own school is that many of my peers undersell themselves and don't even apply to the highest paying companies despite being very qualified.

It's simple. Nobody hires in the cities I want to live in, or if they do, it's mostly defense related work I won't touch.

Well there's some in SF making under $70k and there's plenty of interesting jobs there. That's borderline poverty, isn't it?

That sounds high to me in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I still don't make nearly that much. But, it's cheap to live here.

Need to be able to edit your entry. I left out location and wanted to add it but cant.

Is it just me, or the link not really to a spreadsheet. I was hoping to filter the data so I could compare my salary, but I'm just getting a big ol' useless HTML table that looks kind of like a spreadsheet.

Weird. I can click on that link and it forces a redirect to the HTML view, but I can copy/paste it to a private window(i.e. not logged into Google) and it works fine.

I tried this in two browsers, both in private windows, and still get HTMLview.

If someone has downloaded this, could you put it up somewhere else please?

Hi, I'm a CS student in Europe and about to finish my MSc. I haven't got a clue about what to expect salary wise once I leave university.

Looking at the spreadsheet I noticed, that all the jobs in the US easily make twice the money then the european ones. Since according to Google 1$ is about 0.9€, if you make 100k in the US this should roughly translate to 80-90k €.

Now I do get that in the US you have to take care of all kinds of insurances yourself, but it can't possibly be as much as double the salary or am I wrong?

So if someone could roughly sketch why the huge salary difference that would be great.

Brief summary. Taxes in the US are generally lower. In some European countries they are higher but you have a lot of bang for the buck. You usually benefit if you are married with kids though.... For someone married with 2 or 3 kids, the 1/2 salary in Europe gives you better life quality, not only in terms of free quality education, health care, but also in terms of paid vacations. Countries like France only work 35h/week and it's forbidden to check your work email from home :)

Okay, so let me get this straight.

Here in Europe we have decided to build a society in which we don't get as much money to spend on our own but rather collect a big portion of that money and invest it back into our society, so that we can send our kids to school without directly paying a fortune for it. But I'm also paying a tiny bit of everybody elses kid's education.

Where as in the US you get most of the money you earned and are free to spend it any way you like. Which means you gotta for pay for eeeeeverything but at least it's your choice but if you don't have the money you're f*ked?

Is that it?

To explore this dataset:

1. Open a new google spreadsheet

2. In upper left corner cell: =IMPORTRANGE("1a1Df6dg2Pby1UoNlZU2l0FEykKsQKttu7O6q7iQd2bU", "'Salaries'!A:L")

3. Enable Filter from Data > Filter in menu

4. Explore data with clickable filters on each column header:

4a. For example, click on Location, search in "Filter by values" and select locations (checkmark should appear). Click OK for filter to take effect.

4b. Filter by Annual Base and select a greater than X filter

4c. To see how many results (and other stats) you have for a filter, select a column and then click on the Explore button in the bottom right corner

Can you sort on the columns?

Can we have a column for country please ?

The value of shares in most private companies can't be assigned a dollar value (since you can't sell it easily), so that column is meaningless for a lot of rows, including most startups. Also it's important to remember cash salary is often discounted in favor of higher equity at startups.

I think a more relevant column to add would be percentage equity for startups/private companies (subject to vesting). And if you're at a private company and you don't know the percentage, you should ask.

Just to let you know, most HR circles usually completely disregard self reported salary info because it has a tendency, (even when anonymously reported) to inflate the actual amounts.

I guess it depends on how much inflation is typical. What alternative do we have? It's not like companies are going to release this information to the public, and if they do, there's nothing to show that they're not going to be doing a little bit of inflation on their own. Personally, I think something like this is reasonably reliable. No one should expect to get an exact match, as salary comes down to a lot of variable factors, including individual negotiation skills, but most companies do try to keep things within a reasonable ballpark.

And fwiw, I put in a salary about 5k below what I actually make.

I wonder how reliable that is. It would be in HR's interest to have everyone believe that self-reported salary information is untrue and can't be counted on.

Is there a study that shows that to be true? Can you point to any industry resources? Thanks!

It's self reported data in general, not specific to this case:


Is "Stock Value/Bonus" annual amortized or total?

Agreed... I was granted X options when I started over a 4 year vest... Those shares are worth a lot more now too... Is it my original price since that was the assumption when I was hired?

Entering locations is notoriously difficult. Country + City is probably the best you could do, where country could be re-used for US States.

Eh, I think in cases of ambiguity you might be better off just sticking the state into the name of the city. Like "USA - New York City" vs "USA - Springfield (IL)".

Yes that works too - at least if you have a preset list of locations it's perfect. Country: USA City: Springfield (IL)

If you don't have a db of cities to choose from you likely end up with cleaner data by sticking state to country since you could make a db for that with just some 100-200 entries.

Country/State: US/Illinois, City: Springfield

The original point is still there though, having a single location field breaks down quickly.

Same issues with the other salary data aggregators. Missing the following.

* currency,

* country,

* industry,

* permanent or contractor

* residential status,

* remote or onsite,

But I agree, if the data can be trusted, this is all you need.

Good comment. What are your thoughts on including:

- "jump ship literally tomorrow salary requirement" (base, equity, signing bonus)

regardless of whether you're looking, and an anonymized means of contact. It literally can't hurt. I don't think it even gives off any signal.

I mean if you saw "$130K/undisclosed options/Bay Area/ Jump ship literally tomorrow: $180K + $15k signing bonus" it's next to no information. The only thing that can happen is you get a $180K offer in the mail, so that you can start somewhere else tomorrow. Nor does it price you out of any market, because presumably you would work for between $130K and $180K - maybe just not starting tomorrow, it would just take a LITTLE more interviewing. Nor does it show any level of dissatisfaction whatsoever to your current employer, should they put two and two together based on your skills or job title or anything else.


Personally, "jump ship tomorrow salary requirement" is one of many items used to decide whether to actually jump ship or not.

At the end of the day, these type of data is only one aspect to consider when deciding what to do next, or even to contemplate the next step. Having these data available adds another input into the mix.

for sure! It's not like if our example gets an email saying someone would like to hire them for $180K, then they'll drive over for an interview and hand in their notice the same day.

But do you think this is information that (as I think) should be asked here? I'm thinking it can only help workers.

If you can get that type of information, why not. It could only help for a more accurate comparison.

all right (just to be clear I have nothing to do with the spreadsheet.)

I was actually thinking that this could be a sort-of 'standing offer' from people as well. I mean hiring would certainly be a lot easier if everyone on linkedin had their price that you could probably immediately get them for!

This is just particularly true in the tech industry, which is prone to delirious investor-fueled bubbles on the one hand, but in which, on the other hand, employees really can generate a few million dollars worth of value over a weekend. (For example, by refining a checkout recommendation for related items, that one refinement could objectively result in an extra $million in sales through that exact mechanism.)

So I think the ability to actually reach workers at their jump-ship price (as opposed to just anonymously asking them for it, without any possibility for follow-up) could be a net benefit to employees. Good tech workers are extremely scarce.

The data is going to get really stale. What my jump ship tomorrow number is today will probably be vastly different in a year, two years, etc. Not to mention how does it help someone who just wants to see how their salary compares to others?

That person could leave it blank.

But as for the staleness issue you raise - that could be quite easy, the automated contact could be "tdicola, you have received a message about your jump-ship number", it can list whatever the person wanted to send you, and if it's stale data you could update it on the spot or remove yourself from that kind of search.

I would think most people "have their jump-ship-tomorrow price", and updating it whenever you receive an offer that's outdated (and based on old info) means it would stay more or less current.

Looking to jump ship?

Haha, your profile here is intriguing, you can shoot me an email introducing yourself and I'll certainly reply, if nothing else to congratulate you on getting to work on such cool applications.

Maybe one industrious person can make one for each country? Salaries don't compare well internationally. Like in Sweden you don't have bonuses or stock options but other salary modifiers. Some employers pay up to to 10% of the salary in a retirement fund so 40 000 kr + 10% would be a better deal than 43 000 kr + 0%.

It's fun watching the rows appear :)

This is why you get paid so much.

Agreeee :D

Would be nice the add citizenship as well so we could see if foreigners are being paid less than locals.

This could be good if there were some rules, everyone worth a salary should be able to convert their pay to a certain currency to get a uniform value, only numbers allowed.

Also some moderation of shit rows wouldn't be hard. After that this dataset might become very interesting indeed.

I'm a little worried: is anyone familiar with the info passed to google docs sharers? As soon as I click the link Google will connect the document to whatever google account is open on my machine. Does the OP then see my google account, (which is my name)?

I've created a similar crowd-sourced spreadsheet for the hourly rates freelancers charge.


To what degree is one expected to derive meaningful results? You can compare for a close match, but drawing conclusions in aggregate is sure to be inaccurate. There's simply too much bias in this type of sampling.

If only there was a site where people could enter in their salary info, and it would automatically calculate average/median/range based on specific cities/companies/title/years-of-experience.

Someone is going to need to clean the data. People are spamming it like crazy.

Can you add a column for total annual comp that is base+bonus+stock?

I think we could come up with a better way to standarize equity. Maybe have one column for per year value, and another with the details to capture weird vesting schedules like Amazon.

How do I apply for the "Validate much?" employer in the "rm -rf *" location?

On another note, searching for the keyword "fuck" yields some interesting entries...

Hi, I didn't realize my info would be shared. Thought it would only be used to compare to others. I would like to edit my entry to remove employer name. Please advise.

Gotta say UK salaries compared to cost of living are pretty bad.

Just what I'm noticing as well. Lots of people in London are earning terrible wages for developers.

Validation (based on reputation etc) would make wonders, like (ex-)employees of a company could flag or vote up/down if a salary in that company seem legit or not.

Besides the swastika and the other trolls on the spreadsheet, I'm really wondering how some of you guys commandeer relatively high salaries just after graduating.

Maybe a column to add what you pay in rent/mortgage?

One thing to note here: European salaries are often quoted post tax, so they look substantially smaller than an American job with similar take-home.

Not sure about that, as taxes are very individual it does not make much sense to give a post tax number. At least Germany it's not common to compare post tax salaries.

In the UK, it's always gross, pre-(employee-paid)-tax yearly salary.

In Slovenia, on the other hand, it's usually net, post-tax, monthly salary.

I don't think so. I haven't seen a European country a where you usually discuss your salary post tax...

As I posted elsewhere, Norwegian salaries are always pre-tax but are substantially smaller than for similar positions in the US.

Not in UK.

Somebody actually submitted this: http://snag.gy/VPJgz.jpg

Pornhub one was funny

What does Annual Stock Value/Bonus mean ?

Most of the stock grants (given when you start working/with annual bonus) are over 4 years. You tend to have multiple of these after you have worked at a company for multiple years. It's much easier to just compare if you just tell the total amount of stocks you are going to get in a year in USD.

This survey is getting really badly trolled.

You didn't look through the comment column, did you?

no need when people list their employer as "BangBros" and work as "fucker" before I see the comment column.

It would be really helpful if the owner of this spreadsheet would make the header row sticky for simpler browsing

I see a lot of senior engineers with just a couple or a few years of experience. This is interesting...

A few of the examples I saw were for people working in consultancies.

It's in the consultancy's interests to charge you out as a "senior", so they tend to push you up quite quickly.

But then when people leave the consultancy they don't want to drop from "senior" to regular, and they new employer says "what do I care, it's just a title", so you now you have someone with 2 years total experience, coming into a telco as a "senior engineer".

Now the people that have been there for 4 years complain that they're more senior than this new guys, so they get bumped to "senior" as well, but now the genuinely senior engineers want a new title, so they get to be a "solution designer" or something like that...

What I've noticed in this industry is that there aren't really standards for titles. Some people brand themselves as seniors after maybe 3-4 years of experience for better pay, and often the companies that are hiring them are none the wiser.

Will add my info. Would be great if there was a way to reliably export/save/print this sheet.

Frelancers/consultants, especially remote, making >200k - how? Please share your wisdom

Be better than everyone else, and be able to demonstrate it

Would be nice if it had 'job responsibilities' and 'tech skills' fields

You need to add in an H1B question on here.

I saw some salaries (like a Walmart salary) that HAD to be H1B.

z0a, or anyone, is there a way to remove/obfuscate my submission somehow, if I realise that I'm fairly easy to identify by the information I've provided, and it puts my in an uncomfortable position?

I've lost the edit link btw. Thanks

Otherwise, I think I'll just spam the doc with several random entries from the same employer, so that that one doesn't stand out.

What's a scalable way to handle data cleaning, while still keeping things simple?

I'm waiting for the inevitable data visualization that digests all of this data

z0a: Maybe specify that salary/comp should be in USD? Right now most of them are, but it's a little unclear which currency the non-US companies are in.

(Alternatively currency could be specified, but... probably more work)

Please add a race column.

Why not a simple spreadsheet of all of the websites in existence?

because we can't have nice things apparently...

z0a, or anyone, is there a way to remove/obfuscate my submission somehow ? I've lost the edit link btw. Thanks

OP: can you please pin the first row?

/b/ got a hold of it.

can we put currency also?

because simple spreadsheets are: simple spreadsheets. humans are a complex asset that floats relative to the market dynamics. paysa.com models the underlying asset uniquely using ai, machine learning, and signal processing bc "simple" spreadsheets or rows of a database does not accurately reverse engineer the compensation landscape for you, uniquely.

The header row isn't sticky when I scroll. Come on Google, it's 2016.

Spreadsheet creator would be the one to change that. Google Sheets has the option available.

Wow, you're literally being downvoted for just making an observation. Pretty sad for this community.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11331501 and marked it off-topic.

Because that's what this whole conversation secretly revolves around

<comment type='pedant'>

They added a concerned face on the end, which implies there is something about which to be concerned. Objectively, that is an opinion, not just an observation. Subjectively, I believe it's nothing to be concerned about at all, considering the circumstances of the creation of the sheet and where it's been posted.

Probably because it's a remarkably uninteresting observation, combined with weariness towards the topic of gender politics (see the mess downthread).

I could have told you that HN readership skews male. Throwing the "observation" out there feels like an invitation to argue.

Apparently meta-observations aren't taken well either :)

It’s one thing to think there’s a gender bias; it’s another to actually demonstrate it.

0 out of 90 is interesting.

Dude a WalMart's getting screwed...

Apparently the job title of HORNY in New York gets you a $420,000 salary and an interesting signing bonus.

Similarly, I didn't know PornHub paid so well.

I wonder how people are going to go about filtering out the nonsensical data from this sheet.

Pretty crappy that "Gender" is a two-choice radio button. Literally gender binary.

My mistake. Fixed.

That's an improvement, thank you :)

Now you can be an attack helicopter.

I want to be a Donut. Can't be mad at a donut.

Literally how the whole world works.

That doesn’t mean it’s a good thing.

Well apart from a minority that don't.

This is why we are getting a Trump presidency.

This is useless since people are not listing there employer or location and I see a bit of spam in that list as well. Not a good way to capture data.

Better sorting to push down all the entries without employer/location would fix this problem.

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