Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
My somewhat complete salary history as a software engineer (humanwhocodes.com)
726 points by jodooshi on Oct 31, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 650 comments

These threads always invite the outliers (i.e. those who want to humble brag). Here's mine outside Washington/California/Silicon Valley/NYC:

- $40K: 2010-2013, "DevOps" at small startup. No ownership/shares.

- $45-72K: 2014-Current, Programmer (various job titles) working for state's education department

Even management here only make $90K capping out around $115K~. But cost of living is low.

These threads never have people posting their boring salaries from low cost of living areas, I'm trying to buck that trend.

Also in an effort to counter the humble brag, here is my salary with the years changed slightly as not to dox myself. I’m also not in Washington/California/SV/NYC.

I hope this also shows that the best way to make money is by frequent job hopping.

My salary is about average for the area.

1995 - 2000 wanted to get out of the small town where I’m from and my best opportunity was based on an internship I had the year before as a computer operator. Soon they had a programming project and I was the only programmer they had. I was also in graduate school at the time - starting $10/hr - ending salaried at $35K.

2000 - 2007 Software Engineer mostly doing C/C++ — starting $52K ending $70K. The bonuses steadily were cut and the raises were abysmal

2008-2012 Software Engineer at a small company that went out of business. Mostly doing C# with a little C++. Starting $77K, Ending $84K

2012-2015 Senior Software (in reality a mid level .Net developer) - starting 90K, ending 93K

2015-2016 Full Stack Developer - mostly .Net with some Angular. Starting $115K - Ending $115K

2016-present “Architect” at a small company - starting 63hr (contract - I took it for the learning opportunity and there was a position that I was eyeing) - present $135K.

Next on my agenda is to be an overpriced “implementation consultant”/“Digital transformation consultant”, etc. after my youngest graduates in 3 years.

I think I'm underpaid, but not grossly so. I earn $115,000/yr with 8 years of professional experience in Philadelphia. I have equity currently valued at ~$5,000. I also make an additional ~$10,000/yr in donations to my open source projects and an additional ~$5,000/yr through the occasional side gig.


I started my career at $30,000 in Colorado Springs.


I know that I’m “underpaid” based on what I could get if I were willing to trade a relatively stress free job to either be a team lead (been there done that) or work for a consulting company.

If I made an extra 20K to 30K right now, it wouldn’t change my life significantly. I could reach a few long term goals quicker but I’m really in no rush.

Do you like your company? I'm also in philly but can't seem to find a cool company to work for (I have a software job as is but have been looking). The city feels somewhat dry of interesting software companies.

I do like it, yeah. Shoot me an email: sir@cmpwn.com.

> I think I'm underpaid, but not grossly so.

I wouldn't necessarily call that underpaid. Being underpaid is when you have to choose between the present and the future. If you can both have good and sustainable living conditions, job security and pension with a decent margin you aren't generally underpaid as such. The exception being if your relative wage affects things worth caring about, like being valued by the people around you.

I'd define being underpaid as leaving money on the table. Being comfortable is not related. You can be underpaid and still be comfortable.

If you aren't comfortable, they are underpaying you for the job they expect you to do. If you are comfortable, but leaving money on the table, you aren't getting all the value you produce.

You can call both of those being underpaid, but I would still argue that they are different. Most people need to be comfortable, while most people don't need to capture all the value they can. Staying at a company that pays you less can be perfectly reasonable.

The problem is of course that the market doesn't really guarantee being comfortable. A lot of people are being underpaid for being comfortable long term. But as I said leaving money on the table can be a problem in itself. If you do 90% of what produces value, but only get 50% of the value that isn't generally a good thing.

The danger of considering leaving money on the table as being underpaid is not seeing the value of things. Many people are saving money for some future event, not realizing what they are giving up, instead of integrating that thing into the present.

If you want to work on e.g. open source you don't save hundreds of thousands of dollars for the future. You get enough money that you can do it now. Whether that is having low living costs, extra vacation days, flexibility or room to risk changing jobs to open source companies. Otherwise chances are you just end up with a slightly bigger house.

> invite the outliers

Yep, reading that guy's salary history almost made me want to go jump off the roof, but I figure he lives in CA and probably went to an "upper-echelon" college. Here's mine, from somebody who went to a college that didn't make the US News top 100:

    - 1992: $25,000 (Internship), mostly Cobol
    - 1995: Graduated with BSCS, no-name college, 3.5 GPA
    - 1995: $28,000 (got a raise to $35000, the only raise I've ever gotten without switching jobs), Cobol
    - 1996: $40,000, C++
    (North Texas)
    - 1997: $50,000, C++ 
    - 1998: $60,000, C++/Java
    - 1999: $100,000, Java
    - 2002: $100,000, Web programming/Java/Javascript ("lateral" job change, old company went out of business)
    - 2008: Graduated MSCS, sort-of-name college, 3.9 GPA
    - 2011: $120,000, Objective-C, iOS
    - 2014: $120,000, Java/Javascript (another "lateral" change)
    - 2018: $140,000, Java/Javascript

Dude you do know who Zakas is right? The guy wrote so many advanced JS books, and is essentially a rockstart in the JS world.

His compensation is actually less than I anticipated, given that he is in the bay area...

I agree with you. His books on JavaScript are really great. They treat JavaScript as a first class programming language and not a scripting language and teach you from first principles without naming any of the bad actors in the JavaScript world and no biases. His Books are amazingly well written. I too am surprised how less he was paid compared to what I believe would be his calibre.

The other interpretation would be that the absurd salaries that we hear of are the outliers and most very good engineers flatten out at around 200K USD

>The other interpretation would be that the absurd salaries that we hear of are the outliers and most very good engineers flatten out at around 200K USD


My path is one of the underappreciated hybrid: started in major metro (DC/NY/Boston) and moved to small town in the south after many years, finding good gigs offering remote work for DC-, NY-, and SF-based companies. Found a nice niche in security/ops/development in gov & healthcare tech. So, here goes:

DB/Ops Engineering

1999: $60K base. Fresh out of masters program, large F50 DC gov tech firm (#1)

2001: $100K + $5K bonus. After building a successful practice area (still #1)

Independent Consulting, Security Ops & DB Architecture

2002-3: $150/hr, ~$200K/year. Small, rapid-growth Boston healthcare company (#2)

System/Security Architecture

2004-7: $150K base, $50K-$80K bonus. (full-time salaried at #2)

2008-12: $180K base, $10K bonus. Mid-sized DC gov tech firm (#3)

2012-14: $200K base, $20-40K bonus. Mid-sized DC gov tech firm (remote #4)

Security Architecture/Product Security

2015: $150K base, $20K bonus. Startup (NYC, remote #5)

2016 - 2018: $200K base, $20K bonus, $100K options. Large tech (SF, remote #6)

I know half a dozen co-workers (senior engineers or technical directors) whose net annual comp is also in the $300K range. It's not common, but if you're pulling <$100K with 6+ years experience in software or security engineering, you're getting screwed. (Throw away account, but happy to respond in thread; edited for formatting)

Thanks for sharing. After you (I assume) went remote while working for the same company, how did you go about getting new remote gigs at large tech companies? I’m remote now and would like to stay so, but I’m finding that companies that pay the sort of comp I’m looking for are often remote-averse.

every job (literally every job) has been through networking. I have never had a successful outcome by submitting through the normal HR channels. To your specific question, introduced to people I met online and at conferences. If you're okay traveling a few weeks every quarter, there are lots of opps. Check out, e.g., ops or dev advocate roles at MSFT, Google, GitHub, Cannonical, et al

Interesting that it's similar (lower if adjusted for inflation) level of compensation since 2002. Do you feel that your specialty is plateauing in terms of pay? What would it take for another compensation increase?

gross comp in 2002 adjusted for inflation would be ~$285K, vs this year @ ~$340K, but big difference is net — as a consultant, health & life insurance, travel to global conferences (an indulgence of mine), employer taxes and 401K/SEP IRA are considerable. I priced out a comparable open market family healthcare plan before taking the role I'm in now (large but youngish tech company you'd recognize) and it was shocking: almost $2,200/month vs ~$300/mo as a salaried full time employee. Counting benefits for 401K, stock discount purchase, and basically free travel to any conference reasonably related to my job, it's not even close. I get 6 weeks pid vacation and generous holidays, none of which are free as an independent. Also, because of a pre-existing condition, I am uninsurable if ACA is ever repealed, and forget about disability or life insurance (ironic thing is I'm probably measurably healthier at 48 than I ever was at 27). I have $1M coverage now, plus $100K for my SO.

So I look at it as plateauing, but rather I freely acknowledge I hit the lottery early from being in the right large city, at the right time, and happened to pick up and enjoy a skill that was in high demand (see Patrick McKenzie for the definitive wisdom on this, and negotiation). Sure, I worked my ass off, benefited from a great university, but mostly was just a smart guy who got lucky and motivated. In some other universe, who knows how things would have turned. But I have zero desire for the 60 hour work weeks of a corporate tech life on the "leadership" track, nor the soul-crushing grind of a daily 90-minute commute. When my oldest child took his first steps, I heard every detail. Over the phone, sitting in my corner office alone at like 8:00 on a week night. No thanks. Today, I own my own home on a beautiful, large private piece of land outside a medium sized city. My commute is from my bedroom to my upstairs office, except for a week or so every two months when I fly to HQ. I see my kids soccer and basketball games and I manage no one. I'm an "individual contributor" whose paid handsomely and get to work with some of the brightest engineers of my life and travel to awesome places to meet up with old friends. And yes, I do present occasionally, but I don't /have/ to to have my way paid. It's a good life, and this is exactly where I want to be.

Thanks for the detailed info.

I was only glancing and saw the base pay.. Yes I agree contractor vs FTE has a lot of compensation differential beyond base pay.

Looks like you have a sweet setup right now. Congrats

*dont look at it as plateauing

what do you do? I mean what exactly is your Job sir?

listed above (just before 2015). Don't want to get too specific, but I bridge engineering, product development, and (usually director- or C-level) customers. I have pretty good depth in specific areas of applied security.

This thread's making me feel much better about my starting salary of $35k back in 2011. It always seemed to bug me, the nagging feeling that I had way under billed myself for the first two years of my career (looking at all the big salaries everyone was always claiming).

My salary's pretty much followed the same progression that other's have posted for outside of the high-cost-of-living hubs.

I started at $21k in 2010 as a programmer

* 2000-2005 USMC

* 2005-2008 various (Unable to decide what I wanted to do when I grew up)

* 2008-2010 A.A.S. Computer Information Systems

* 2010-2015 Backend Developer, 21k => 50k

* 2015-2016 DevOps/System Admin, State of Delaware 60k => 68k

* 2016-2017 Backend .Net Developer, small company 70k => 85k

* 2017-Pres Backend .Net Developer, major bank 100k

I live in Delaware - in the sticks - and commute to Wilmington, DE.

I probably make under market, but I'm limited on my relocation options and don't have a 4 year degree - so I'm happy with my current position.

Nice to see another devil dog in the coding world. Don’t see it that often...

Salaries are great, but my best job is still my most underpaid: USMC


Oorah Devil, I think tech is a good world for us. Pure logic separating the emotion.

My hard-headedness and willingness to sit in front of the problem longer than most civilian team members has given me a ladder to climb and respect without the degree.

It's been hard but worth it. I miss the brotherhood but I feel life as software engineers in today's age, we have an opportunity to make just as much (and debatably more) impact although maybe not as directly as when we were in the streets overseas.

The key to being a good Marine is never give up, always give 100%...

I had a good work ethic before and the Marines definitely put the rest of it into me.

Other things it gave me was leave work on time (otherwise you are staying for awhile), leave work behind (enjoy "outside" of the job) and be thankful you aren't in a fucking desert.

Agreed. But, unfortunately, I followed the standard Marine path: Married, deployed, divorced in 5 years. Thankfully, no kids.

I almost went back in in 2007... but, basically, had to choose between that path and my current fiance (of 11 years).

I've always had a good aptitude for computers - 95 on asvab and I was a Radio Repairman.

Got out in 2005 and got my education thanks to the GI Bill.

I do miss it - the best decision I made in my life - but am also happy where I'm at.


Anyways... I was at the gym thinking... (still working out like like a Marine) I was wondering are there any resources out there for Marines (or armed service people) to get into coding?

I haven't had time since I retired to give back to our veterans. I was wondering if anybody knew resources, or do I need to start something?

Started out in a LCOL area (Central PA). Dropped out of Comp. Sci. program. ColdFusion -> ASP -> .NET (with lots of Web Development). All the different titles. But typically just a member of the team; not the team lead or architect.

All figures W2 gross pay and 40 hour / week jobs (No on call, paid OT or I didn't play!)

  1998-1999 $9/hr -> $13/hr
  2000-2003 $27k -> $33k
  2003-2006 $40k -> $50k
  2006-2011 $55k -> $63k (nice job, raises not-so-much)
  2012-2014 $75k, $72k, $80k (job hoppin' fool)
Moved to a higher COL area (closer to Philly)

  2014-2015 $88k -> $91k
  2016-2017 $100k -> $103k
Took first Corp-to-corp 1099 job

  2017+ $160k

Low cost of living checking in, primarily due to food and housing, which are ~50% and ~15-20% of the Bay Area respectively. A <$950 mortgage payment for a house with a yard is a huge QOL boost.

Started professional software dev in 2010 after freelancing for $45, raise/promotion to low $50's before getting a new job for $72, raise/promotion to high $70's before getting a new job for $98, promotion to $115 + 10% discretionary/performance bonus. All web development to start, last promotion put me in architecture/pseudo-management roles that includes more backend systems and integrations. Tech roles at my current job top out in the low to mid $130's + 10%, non-Exec management seems to be in the $125-185 range but obviously that info is pretty hard to get reliably. If you don't have any desires to be in management or architecture roles and you just want to be in your IDE coding all day, you can get to $90-100k reliably, and in this area that's enough to max out your 401k, a Roth IRA, and save.

I'd love to move to a city and get companies on my resume that people have heard of outside of a 30 mile radius, but SF/NYC are nonstarters as they'd be a 50%+ effective pay cut, and even the less mainstream ones like Chicago, Boston, Dallas, San Diego would be 30% or more.

If you think you’re better than average, especially top quintile, then moving to a big city will offer so many more opportunities it will more than make up for the temporary pay cut or hit to quality of life. Of course this all depends on your goals and situation such as having dependents and age. But it could pay off big by giving you more chances to network, start businesses, meet a high income earning spouse, etc.

I do think I'm better than average (most people do, don't they?) but probably not top quintile. One thing stopping me from doing it is that I don't have any desire to start or run a business. I'd do a CTO role somewhere with profitability or funding, but not as a co-founder. Just not an interest of mine at this point in my life, 32, single no dependents.

Also in a pretty LoC area.

2007: $35k (First job out of school. I didn't know to negotiate better. Also my favorite job I've had) 2008: $60k 2012-2015: $80-$115k 2016-2017: $117.5k 2018: $100k + quarterly bonus based on company profits

It's not crazy FAANG level income but the cost of living out here is low enough that I'm pretty sure I make out decently well in comparison.

I'll go so far as to say here's my College Drop Out Self Taught In The Rust Belt Salary:

2006-2016: $25k-$45kyr, $40-$120 per hour. The first half I ran a very small agency that maxed out at 4 people and I wrote all the code, the latter half I was a PHP freelancer. Most expensive WordPress consultant in my city!

2016: $52k. Agency web dev. I've never hated a job more. Mostly wrote hacky jQuery and supported an awful laravel app the boss was enamored with.

2017: $65k. Front End Engineer. worked on converting a legacy SaaS product into Angular SPA. My boss begged me to ask for a raise (the recruiter screwed everybody), and then I got laid off two weeks later with like 25 other people. Loved that job, sad to lose it.

2018(current): $87k + bonuses. Senior Front End Developer. My job is to hack .net with javascript. I think the salary trend is moving nicely. I'm suddenly the richest person among all my friends and the third-highest earner in my extended family. (My family isn't even in the rust belt, they're from a much wealthier region in the country.)

I'm a remote working iOS / Android dev located in the countryside of Thailand.

Currently working for 40 USD / hour for 32 hours a week, so that means around 65.000 USD per year. This year I started fully working remotely and decided to start a bit at the low end, earnings-wise. When working previously as a freelancer in The Netherlands my last rate was around 80 USD / hour.

I intend to raise my rate to at least 50 USD per hour in 2019 and perhaps working 5 days a week, which would mean earning around 100.000 USD per year.

Here is my list, cost of living is relatively low in west Michigan.

2004-2006 $30k->54k, company went out of business, career path was help desk to infrastructure engineering

2006-2011 $40k->50k, 45 Days PTO, public sector, little room for advancement, rewarding work, great time off, education

2011-2018 $65k->95k + 12% bonus, 20 PTO days, infrastructure engineering, private sector. 80% remote.

2018 $145k, bonus up to 20%, IT Consultant, 20 PTO days, private sector. 100% remote, 30% travel.

Never had any job offer stock options.

Personally neither what you call the humble brags nor your post are very useful. What is interesting is cost-of-living-adjusted salary, but nobody knows how to calculate it, so we just get a bunch of numbers without enough context to figure out what they actually mean. It's like posting a bunch of price data points from the last 500 years without any knowledge of inflation.

Similar - 15 years experience in DevOps, I make $100k at my current job ($20k less than my previous job which was in Los Angeles, I'm still in CA, but away from the metros.)

But...and this more than makes up for it...my hours are capped at 35 a week. (I usually work between 30-35).

And I love it. The tradeoff has been completely worth it for me.

Don’t shame people for making more money than others. The idea of this is we all see what we make. The outliers are making what we should all make.

It's not about shaming people. HN is full of West Coast FAANG SV employees who are outliers. It's easy for people to feel that their perfectly normal salaries are low.

I'm not FAANG, but I am in SV, and my salary is currently around $200k/year (give or take). That's low compared to FAANG, but it's much higher, even adjusting for COL, than most of the "perfectly normal" lower salaries in these comments. That's not good: those lower salaries should be considered abnormally low; mine should be considered on the high end of average, maybe. Most software development (where software is the product, or a critical component of the product) is a high margin endeavor. These companies can (and should) pay their development staff more.

That's low compared to FAANG, but it's much higher, even adjusting for COL, than most of the "perfectly normal" lower salaries in these comments. That's not good: those lower salaries should be considered abnormally low; mine should be considered on the high end of average

These are the "average" salaries across the industry in different metro areas:


As far as $200K being high adjusted for COLA, in the burbs where I live. $330K gets you a house - brand new build in a top rated school system with five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3000 square feet with a yard, two car garage, and a separate nice size office. What does that get you in SV?

Anyone making at least $110K can buy that house with an FHA loan with 3.5% down.

What a company is going to pay is based on the supply and demand.

$330k gets you goody looks when considering a purchase of a home, or outright laughter. On the other hand your $330k home is not going to yield sufficient ROI to make up for the double (or more) savings and investment rate my salary affords me. I can save almost as as the $110k earner in the suburbs has as his disposable income, and I have access to a diversity of culture, well maintained parks, good (private) schools and such that the suburbanite can only dream of in most cases.

Again speaking hypothetically, using the numbers I posted earlier for what an average experienced developer can make in most metro areas - around $130K and if you’re married to a college educated spouse (statistically that would be true because of assortive mating) making an average salary of around $50K. You could easily save $70K a year.

Do you think there are only parks, “diversity of culture”, and good schools on the west coast? If someone is living in a top rated school zone where the top 20% of earners live, do you really think that the school system wouldn’t be good?

>As far as $200K being high adjusted for COLA, in the burbs where I live. $330K gets you a house - brand new build in a top rated school system with five bedrooms, 3.5 baths, 3000 square feet with a yard, two car garage, and a separate nice size office. What does that get you in SV?

Nobody actually plans on retiring in SF. When I'm done working here for 10 or 15 years I'll have enough to move and own a mansion in whatever town you live in and retire. After 2 years of working I already have $170k in savings.

I think you may find it harder to relocate after 10-15 years. Your friends and community will be in SF, and leaving that, especially in your 40s can be very hard. When I moved in my early 20s, it took between 2-3 years to re-establish my friend networks and community in a new city. I would be hesitant to do that again. Kids make it even harder, as you may be pulling them away from their closest friends.

Speaking in general, not about me in particular...

I'm going to give up 15 years of my life -- the time that most people spend getting married, having 2.5 kids, etc. to live in SV -- when I could spend those fifteen years living in the burbs in a big house with the white picket fence in almost any other major city in the US?

Especially if you are a two parent household, the general MO is that the second smaller income can go straight to savings. It's quite easy for a dual income earning household to make 200K if one is software developer and the other just makes an average income for a college grad of $60K-$70K,

   when I could spend those fifteen years living in the burbs in a big house with the white picket fence in almost any other major city in the US?

Why would you speak "in general" about something so specific - this really isn't a goal for everyone. All the best for you making your own decisions of course. In my case I will make considerable tradeoffs to hopefully never live in a 'burb again.

It's also worth noting that cities aren't fungible.

Because the whole point is what the “average” developer is making across the country and not the outliers.

What does that have to do with wanting/not wanting to live in the 'burbs ? Lots of "average" developers don't want to live in SV or a 'burb. You present it as some sort of weird dichotomy - reality is much more complex than that.

It’s not about living in the burbs. The average developer could also live in a smaller condo in the center of the city in most metro areas.

The point is more that it seems like people in the bubble think that a developer living in a major metro area outside of SV making in the low six figures is somehow living in squalor barely making ins meet when they can live where they want in most cities and save - especially if they are a part of a two income household.

Ok, I think you had a reasonable point that just wasn't articulated well. Somewhat separable from what that putative developer should be able to make, of course.

Not so easy anymore with student loans for a lot of people. Between the my girlfriend and I, we are currently paying $1300 a month on student loan payments. That's pretty much a mortgage payment right there (for the Midwest, where we're living).

And my student loans only got up to ~$25k. The average student loan debt per student at graduation was $37k as of a couple of years ago. Mine will be paid off within a couple of years, at least. She still has a long way to go.

I honestly don't know how most people outside of software development or other high paying jobs make ends meet, nowadays.

We're doing alright and we bought a house earlier this year, but we're still having to juggle money around during the month to make sure everything gets paid.

And yet we're in the top 10% for household income in the country, supposedly (I'm not bragging; pretty much every individual developer on Hacker News that lives in SV should be in the top 5%). It really, really doesn't feel like it.

> I'm going to give up 15 years of my life -- the time that most people spend getting married, having 2.5 kids, etc. to live in SV -- when I could spend those fifteen years living in the burbs in a big house with the white picket fence in almost any other major city in the US?

First of all I'm not "giving it up" and I have no desire for your lifestyle. It honestly sounds horrible.

Enjoy your life.

I was hoping that the "2.5 kids" part would enforce that I'm not talking about me in particular since no one can have half a kid, but I was using the cliched "average number of kids per household".

Yes I understood it, can you simply not believe that somebody doesn't want to live in a generic neighborhood behind a white picket fence?

Should they just pay development more, or all employees of the company?

The second.

> it's easy for people to feel that their perfectly normal salaries are low.

Part of a free market is realizing that, if others are earning more money for the same work, there is a good chance that you are undercharging your employer for your services.

Do you agree that this stance ignores the idea of local economies factoring into why dollars are not valued the same everywhere?

Most companies I've known charge what they would consider "base rate" + some kind of Cost of Living multiplier. See Buffer's example: https://buffer.com/salary/staff-engineer-web/average

No? Salaries ought to be compared in real values. This is econ 101. The author made no claim his figures were in real terms. He gave the nominal amounts and that is quite clear in the post. It's up to the astute reader to convert them into real values based on the purchasing power of the nominal amount provided in their locale.

Your claim was that

> HN is full of West Coast FAANG SV employees who are outliers.

There are two ways to interpret this claim. Way 1 is to assume that you are talking about West Coast 'FAANG' employees being outliers in the sense their nominal salaries are outliers. Way 2 is to assume you claim that West Coast employees are outliers in the purchasing power sense.

If I assume way 1, then your claim that 'it's easy for people to feel their salaries are low' doesn't make sense, because salaries would be compared in real terms. Moreover, the SV employees wouldn't really be outliers. They'd be perfectly average.

If I assume the latter, which is that the salaries are outliers in real terms, then what I said stands: if someone else is making more money for the same job, you're probably being underpaid.

On the positive side, if we all feel like our salaries are low, we'll collectively ask for more money. Don't be jealous, but do ask for a raise.

Outside of Silicon Valley/NYC/DC, no one is going to pay your "full stack web developer", 200K. Full stack developers are a dime a dozen and you can outsource your typical CRUD Software As A Service app overseas or "rural source" it to Middle America.

Maybe not $200k, but you can at least ask for more.

Also, I'd be a little careful about out-sourcing and rural-sourcing. I've found that many high-quality remote workers charge Bay Area rates regardless of where they live. If they're not, well, that may signal a lack of quality. You can get a bit of a discount, or find a more specialized person than you might otherwise.

To those of you in low-cost-of-living areas: Consider raising your rates to signal your quality. You're worth it.

But that’s kind of the point. If all you’re doing is working on yet another software as a service CRUD app, you don’t need a team of A players. You just need halfway competent developers and one of two architect level positions to steer them.

Really capable of working at all 7 OSI layers :-) many "full stack" developers don't know that databases have a CLI.

That’s true. I’ve interviewed “full stack developers” who when you asked them to write a query they started writing C# Linq statements as if they were using Entity Framework.

It only takes one of two steps above the average “full stack developer” to be the one eyed king.

I always wonder when I read about salaries in other countries - what do the numbers usually mean? Not sure if this is how it works everywhere, but where I live, we have 3 different ways of talking about salary:

1) What you actually get

2) What you actually get + what you pay in taxes

3) What you actually get + what you pay in taxes + what your employer pays in taxes

Usually we talk about #2 when discussing salaries. So if somebody says they make 1000€/month, it generally means that they get 871€ every month in the bank, and their employer actually needs to pay 1338€ ever month in salary + taxes.

Can anyone shed some light on whether this is the same everywhere? Like if somebody in Silicon Valley says they make $200k/year, is that their "#2" number?


Adding my own #2 history as well (software dev in Estonia), in case anybody is interested:

2015 - junior at employer A - 12 000€

2015 - mid-level at employer A - 21 204€

2016 - mid-level at employer B - 26 400€

2017 - senior at employer B - 30 000€

2017 - senior at employer C - 48 000€

2018 - senior at employer D - 58 500€

In my experience, it's very hard to get better salary without changing jobs all the time, so if you know of a company with good perks, it's better to change your job a bunch of times before ending up there (so you can start there with a relatively good salary) - at least, that's what I ended up doing.

People in the US almost always quote salary in terms of gross amounts - so if someone makes $200k, that's before tax. But it's not including the employer taxes.

I.e. their paycheck will show $16,666 per month at the top line, a bunch of state, federal, maybe local taxes, disability and social security (also basically taxes), etc. and then roughly $10,500 at the bottom line depending on your situation.\

Edit: sometimes people include stock in their pay. This can be perfectly reasonable (guaranteed grants in a publicly traded company) or complete BS (pretending your startup will sell for 1B+ even though you might as well just buy lottery tickets)

I think most countries does this. Of course that doesn't make the amount comparable between countries. It is mainly for practical reasons since that is the salary you negotiate for i.e. the amount they pay you (though in many countries the employer would deduct income taxes). In general I think a decent starting point, for higher salaries, tends to be what one can save. Because then people will often instinctively start asking for the bigger picture.

In Russia it's always #1 discussed and negotiated, because all the taxes and payments (like the retirement fund), including those that are supposedly paid by the employee, are handled by employer's accounting. Most people don't even know how much taxes and other payments they pay to the government each month, and most people don't even care that much whether the employer actually pays it all or doesn't. Just to clarify: not paying taxes and social payments on employee salary is, obviously, illegal, and employee is aware of that, but (1) in Russia, people generally don't care about breaking the law that much and (2) people don't believe in the pension system enough to care if they're paying anything into it or not. Most feel that by the time they get to retirement, government will find some way to steal their pension money, or it will be completely eaten away by hyperinflation or some other catastrophic economic event.

pretty much the same in Croatia and I dare to guess, Serbia and Bosnia (maybe even Slovenia).

Yes, almost always number 2. Number 1 only when they specify "take home pay" and almost never number 3. Because the total amount your employer pays is not readily available nor easy to calculate.

Every employer I have worked for has given me number 3 in writing at least once a year.

EDIT: Though, come to think of it, that number doesn't include some employer paid payroll taxes. But it's simple enough to multiply by 1.N

Seems like it's more important to change titles than company according to your history. To be honest I'm a bit offended you consider yourself senior with 2 years of experience.

I got promoted to "senior" developer less than 6 months out of university because my employer wanted to inflate the credibility of his consulting business.

Job titles aren't standardised and can be pretty meaningless between organisations.

I recently saw a resume claiming to be a "Senior X" where they claimed literally zero experience in X. (X in this case is a type of work, not a language.) Given that the person in question had what appeared to be a standard bachelor's degree with no particular focus in X and less than two years of work experience in the general field total... it was a bit hard to believe.

(If that's "Senior", then what of someone that does have ten years of experience? "Decrepit Software Engineer"? Maybe a series of promotions named after increasingly elaborate tombs? Grave Marker, Marble Headstone, Vault, Mausoleum, Master of the Crypt. Who wouldn't want to be introduced as "Software Engineer and Master of the Crypt"? Apropos of the current day. Or maybe progressive tiers of Undead. "Jerf, Lich Lord of Software Engineering". That could work. Or maybe you want to go up the Vampire tier... "Jerf, Vampire Patriarch of Software Engineering".)

Yep, same thing happened to me. I was a computer operator for a small company that was trying to start a new line of business in the mid 90s. I was introduced as their "lead developer with 5+ years of experience". The "experience" was writing Applesoft Basic and Assembly language programs in middle school and high school and doing a contract for a college while I was in college writing HyperCard Stacks....

Now 20 years later, I'm introduced as the "Lead AWS Architect" because I have about a year of experience with AWS and three certs....

That's my experience as well. In the first 6 months in my first job out of college the product manager started introducing me as the senior developer, and some years later while working for another company the project manager introduced me as the senior backend developer at a point where I had zero professional backend experience.

Agreed with this completely. People really shouldn't be offended by job titles as they vary so much between companies.

Experience and output matter. I can't imagine interviewing someone and asking about the current job title.

Has this person managed people? Lead teams? Done good work? Great. Title doesn't really matter for that.

At my startup, the sycophant with the least skills got promoted to CTO when the other one threw in the towel and there was only 3 weeks to the AGM. So... yeah - job titles don't belie abilities/experience

This isn't unique to tech, either. In a lot of enterprise sales orgs, literally everyone is a "VP".

Duetsche Bank counts a metric ton of Director's haha. I noticed it when clicking through LinkedIn.

To be fair, I actually have around 7 years of experience total, not just the 3 I've worked full-time. It's just that most of those years I was working as a freelancer. My first employer initially thought that the freelance work didn't make me worthy of being more than a junior, and back then, I didn't really know enough about working at a company to disagree.

In those 7 years, I've built up and shipped quite a few products, so I definitely feel like I can say I have more than 2 years of useful experience. But don't feel too offended, I don't really consider myself to be senior - it's just a title that my employers offer me. I definitely know I still have a long way to go before I'm a good developer.

The "senior" title is not about the length of your tenure. It's about your ability to independently solve difficult problems and provide leadership to those around you.

And I think it's even a little more than this. I've certainly seen college grads come up with impressive algorithms and "solve hard problems". For me senior is having seen other people solve hard problems in the past and fail spectacularly when their math meets implementation details. Maybe the approach requires too much precision from data entry clerks., Maybe it's particularly sensitive to GC pauses or doesn't distribute well given potential bandwidth issues between DC's. Maybe its a awesome but future devs will find it so terse as to be un-editable. A lot of being a senior to me is having seen many production systems and learned the weird ass ways they can go wrong.

Still not saying you can't do that at 18, but you probably needed to quit high school and start consulting for teams at 14 to get the experience in by then!

The word itself implies more experience than others. More experience is usually correlated to length of your tenure. But yes I agree, other qualities of senior developers include what you wrote.

Just being a devils advocate here: I was 14 leading the school programming club and I thought I solved really difficult issue setting up gentoo. Senior at 14?

Senior within the context of the club, yes.

Depends on the culture of the country many counties have custom and practice that you have to do X years as a grade before you can move up.

Perhaps the guy is really good/ambitious? I've had to deal with the stigma of being "above average", and it bothers me when I hear stuff like this. This sort of thinking stops people who have the drive to do something, and it makes them delay their enthusiasm until others feel they deserve a chance. That's just terrible in my opinion. And it's probably part of the reason why so many young people start a startup or go and work for one; so their talent and enthusiasm can actually yield something worthwhile, rather than be hindered by various corporate paradigms.

Even if it is a good developer, I don't believe the qualities of senior developer are being acquired so quickly. Do you really need people lying to you that you are senior to make you feel motivated? Ok I can do that, but I think it's unhealthy for you and for the industry.

What do you want to convey when you write >Senior< Software engineer on your resume? IMO that you have a lot of experience in the field.

Most of the people say they were promoted so their business can sell them as senior. That's BS. I would not like to work with those businesses. Keep calling yourselves seniors.

ps. I dealt with the same stigma, and I would feel ashamed when I joined a team where all the devs were 35+ with 10+ YOE and I would call myself the same title as they did. (I was 21 in this example, with 5 years of professional experience). Am I too humble?

> Even if it is a good developer, I don't believe the qualities of senior developer are being acquired so quickly.

So here's where I have my issue. Why can't someone acquire those qualities quickly? Why should your belief be factored in when gauging someone's expertise? I say, let's just look at their abilities and then decide. You may be surprised at how quickly some people pick up certain skills!

> Most of the people say they were promoted so their business can sell them as senior. That's BS. I would not like to work with those businesses. Keep calling yourselves seniors.

Here I agree with you. Random titles for the sake of duping people make no sense either and are potentially harmful.

> ps. I dealt with the same stigma, and I would feel ashamed when I joined a team where all the devs were 35+ with 10+ YOE and I would call myself the same title as they did. (I was 21 in this example, with 5 years of professional experience). Am I too humble?

I would say yes. If you are able to perform the same tasks as them, with the same/better level of finesse, then the only differentiator is age. Why shouldn't you have the same pay packet/title/respect? I believe age is generally positively correlated with experience (i.e. more age = more experience), but I feel it is not really correlated with insight (more age != better insight). Thus, sometimes, younger people can have better ideas and inputs than their older colleagues and deserve the 'senior' title as much as someone that's been working 30+ years, in my opinion.

> Why can't someone acquire those qualities quickly? Because there is no time to do the full cycle from start to release more than twice in 2 years.

Usually a project that will give you decent insights takes some time to build. Usually at least 6 months and then several months to see what you did wrong. So if you did this cycle once, you are not aware of how you screwed it up and if other methods would yield better results. If you did it twice you already have the basis to compare methods. Senior ideally tried several approaches and there is simply no time for this in 2 years imo.

> I would say yes...

Thanks. Looking at this thread I changed my perspective. 1. it's context based, you can be senior after 3 months if your other senior left and you have couple of new people that you need to onboard 2. titles mean absolutely nothing when hiring 3. If I am doing the same work as others I deserve the same title (age made me uncomfortable)

So yeah, initially I got offended because I called myself senior later than I could and it seemed unfair.

Yes, this is a bit of a micro version of the "should people developing software be allowed to call themselves engineers": some people want a formalised system which guarantees that people have passed certain tests and have a certain level of experience, other people observe that many of our heroes and CEOs are bright autodidacts. Is it a good idea to pull up the ladder? And besides, technology shifts and there are plenty of people working on technologies that weren't invented at the time they graduated. Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard, Andy Grove was a refugee who would have great difficulty getting into 21st century America, etc.

I agree that a lot of vital expertise comes from mistaken attempts and the need to change strategies.

Just as another data point: I have been looking at it like you in the past, but now I’m getting old enough that I worked with enough engineers to realize that whole experience has a general correlation with seniority, there is a huge variation between individual.

I have in mind one of the most skilled and mature engineer I have ever collaborated with who has less than two years professional experience. I also worked with many 10y experienced folks who qualify as senior for this, but were pretty sloppy otherwise.

Why are you offended? The market considers them senior...

I spent 5+ years in the industry and felt weird calling myself senior. Just because you are a friend with CEO and he can vouch for your title doesn't make you senior.

In 2 years of experience how many serious products can you take from start to finish? In my opinion, a senior developer is a person who did this multiple times.

It's almost like calling yourself lead developer of 1 man team...

Titles are a means to categorise resource by HR.

Titles merely offer a bracket of salary that a resource can have, once they reach the peak they either have to go up a rank or leave to get more pay.

At a bank, the salespeople and analysts are called Vice Presidents. It's just a name.

Being Lead Developer in a one person team definitely sounds reasonable. You are still the lead dev on the project and have to take on all the responsiblities (even more so than if the team was bigger?).

> You are still the lead dev on the project and have to take on all the responsiblities

Except the responsibility of leading other people, on a resume this title would imply you gained that experience while in fact you didn't.

"lead" doesn't mean that at all in this context it's technical leadership

To me even technical leadership still implies there are people that are less technically advanced that follow or benefit from the leadership. In general any leader implies followers, otherwise, what are you leading?

Note that I didn't say manage other people. I'm talking about helping get the better of the team, showing a junior member how things can be done better, etc. Like a team captain, not a coach.

I've never interpreted it as meaning leading people but rather leading the development of a project (or some portion of it). In fact, at IBM, I saw teams have multiple lead devs.

2018 - Salary for me an expat in Germany at a fintech startup: 53k Euros a year. No signing bonus. No options. Experience: 5 years as a DBA the rest a sad self taught programmer with 6 months of prior startup experience shipping microservices in C# and Python.

Startup in logistics 2018 6 months: 48k euros.

Previous: DBA in Portland Oregon in 2013 to 2017 - 60k to 70k then as an EDW dev 78k USD.

Jesus that's horrible. I made much more than that straight out of college. But it was in NYC where cost of living is high and taxes destroy you.

The saddest part is that your salary didn't increase much in 5 years? Going from $60k to $70k to 53k euros over 5 years is pretty much tracking inflation. Over 5 years, my salary increased by more than double your entire salary.

You should ask for a raise from time to time or get a better paying job. Especially since DBA/data scientist along with computer security developer/engineer were some of the hottest fields in tech the past 10 years.

Some people can spend a month reading "SQL in 21 days" and get a higher salary than you in many places.

This kind of tone is why people from lower cost of living areas don’t post in these threads.

> Some people can spend a month reading "SQL in 21 days" and get a higher salary than you in many places.

Can you show me a job listing you think one could apply for after reading a book on SQL?

It's also possible that salary is not a main motivation for the parent comment author. Jobs come with non-monetary perks, and sometimes people just do a job to pay the bills. Not everyone is hustling for maximum salary.

Yeah it’s not great. But I don’t have a CS degree. I was brought in off the street with an Econ degree to be a super junior DBA and spent a lot of time warming a seat as a migration admin. Then moved on to EDW work but the chance to move wasn’t entirely motivated by money but by what else’s I could learn.

Then I moved to Germany to try my hand at a startup to gain more experience.

The pay could be better but that’s not my entire goal: loving what I do is important and having a good work life balance is too.

I should say now that I have a family I wish I had discovered that I wanted to be a programmer all along and focused on that in school. 8 think had I done so I’d be that much further in my career.

This is in Europe with free healthcare, unemployment benefits, rent control. In effect he is better off in Germany despite the 'low' salary. You won't be bankrupt if you fall sick and you won't be let go without notice and severance pay.

My #2 = €45k or so, but in my country (Netherlands) this number, usually, doesn't include pension contributions which are 6k a year in my firm. I don't actually know how much #3 is. But my #1 = (2330 * 12) * 1,125% (end of year bonus).

Geen Vakantiegeld?

Zit in die 12,5%!

Ah, dus ~4% "jaarbonus" naast 8% vakantiegeld. Nog niet eerder gezien, is dat gebruikelijk? Je krijgt 56% belasting over bonussen toch? Kunnen ze het niet beter in je salaris stoppen, zodat je gewoon "normaal" (42%?) belastingtarief betaalt?

Salaris en bonussen worden exact hetzelfde belast bij de jaarlijkse afrekening, net als je vakantiegeld en je eindejaarsuitkering. Allemaal hetzelfde.

Echter wordt er gedurende het jaar vaak over de bonus tegen het toptarief ingehouden als voorzorgsmaatregel dat je in ieder geval geen extra belasting moet betalen aan het eind van het jaar.

Geen wezenlijk verschil dus.

Het is salaris, je mag zelf kiezen of je het in één keer in december wil over verspreid elke maand.

Daarnaast kun je van die 4% extra ook pensioen inleggen (bruto), vakantie kopen etc..

Naast dit alles nog winstdeling, die is indd 49% belast en erg veriabel.

I have worked in Australia, Singapore and Germany. When mentioning salary, we usually qualify it with either "Gross" or "Net", which corresponds to 1) and 2) respectively on your list.

If I am not mistaken it's in reverse.

1) What you get in the bank -> Net salary

2) What you get in the bank + what you pay in taxes -> Gross salary

though "what you actually get" in the long run includes superannuation in Australia, but people do not count it as a component of their gross income.

Not really, it is kinda "unseen" as its not part of the money that goes into you pocket after taxes. You only get into your pocket when retired.

It's most definitely your money. You earned it. The money was transferred from your employer's bank account to an account in your name. The only difference is you can't spend it today.

( It was a clever mind hack by the Keating Labor government to have super not be a subset of your base salary, but rather as an on-top-of entitlement for employees—or from the employer's perspective, an additional wages cost just like payroll tax. Had it gone the other way, people would be more sensitive to their earned money being locked away. )

Re: the mind hack - yes, I agree. However, in light of recent discussions about raising the 9.5% SGL I went and looked at my latest contract which quite clearly says should that 9.5% go up, my total compensation will not change, so my base compensation will thus fall to ... compensate.

Even though that doesn't financially penalise me, it still feels a bit mean. From the company's point of view though, I'm sure they'd view it as far more mean if the government suddenly told them they're obliged to pay everyone more.

The mind hack aspect was important for the transition from the pensions and ad-hoc systems that came before them. Now that superannuation has near-universal support, any employers (like yours) which engineer an un-hack to the system aren't going to tear down the social license for super.

Deferred pay is the normal way to look at it.

Probably also needs some kind of purchasing power parity adjustment - divide by the cost of a specified size of house within a reasonable commuting distance, for example.

That goes only so far. Macbooks cost the same, and you ain't getting your car cheaper than in the States.

I completely agree with this. Throughout my career people have always spouted the same crap about "cost of living" for an area. Unless you're barely surviving paycheck to paycheck, or your household is poor to lower-middle class (which imo should not be a common case for a professional Software Engineer), the majority of your spending should not location specific. Rent/Mortgage monthly payments are often recommended to be limited to about 28-30% of your gross income. It is almost always in your best interest to go for the higher income number (and location).

I would disagree. I don't really see what people are spending money on? Everyone I know working in technology have pretty much bought everything they ever wanted in terms of electronics, clothes, equipment and vacations long ago. Most people could afford a sports car by 30 if they wanted to. Unless you have very expensive taste these things really aren't that expensive. What is expensive is space (housing, vacation home, workshop), time (education, sabbaticals, hobbies) and fluffy things (security, love, prosperity). Sure, housing might only be some percentage, but it is that percentage for the a large part of your life.

Not everyone needs a Macbook (or a car) :)

Not everyone needs to pay for housing either, but most do.

Point is, cost of living isn't just about groceries on the farmers' market.

It's pretty sensible to assume that housing is one of the most important aspects of cost of living contrary to a Macbook.

Also the parent was stating "for example" which implies there are other factors.

Housing is also a lot more variable than a Macbook. Even within the same country, it can easily differ 3-4x depending on the region. There's a reason it's not counted when calculating consumer price indexes or GDP PPP figures.

For Estonia above, the cost of most everything else than local produce is comparable to the Western Europe or the States. Clothing, petrol, consumer electronics, foreign vacations are not any cheaper.

> Even within the same country, it can easily differ 3-4x depending on the region.

Rent varies 3x between my house to the apartments next door. (Also varies 2-3x within the apartment complex.) I could buy a new Macbook Pro each month, or move next door -- comes out about the same cost.

Cost of Living is weird.

I think one way of having a productive comparison is to use percentage points on wage increases; that way it doesnt matter location or currency, cost of living etc. as these can be reflected in base salary as a proxy.

In Italy, as far as I know, there's only 1) and 3). Usually If we refer to a yearly salary, it's 3), if we refer to the monthly sum, it's the take home pay, so 1).

Here in Italy we discuss #2 - For example for an annual income of 30.000€ before taxes, it will be around 1.400 - 1.500€ month after taxes.

And I had the same experience: it's almost impossible to have salaries jump without changing jobs (and from a business perspective the reasons for that are quite obvious)

In your example, €30000 would be your RAL so #3, not #2.

Male, went to a top 5 CS school, US west coast

2001: BigCo $76,000/year + $20,000 signing bonus (first job out of school)

2007: Freelancing between $100-$200/hr depending on project

2012: Startup #1 $180,000/year + $75,000 signing bonus + a bit of stock that's never been worth anything (but I exercised upon leaving and paid a lot of taxes on, so I'm net negative ~$300k)

2015: Startup #2 $240,000/year + lots of stock that's never been worth anything

Some thoughts on equity and BigCos vs. Startups:

Before going to Startup #1 I rejected offer of ~$2MM RSUs at BigCo #2 (since split, now worth ~$15MM) and offer of ~$2MM RSU at BigCo #3 (now worth ~$10MM) in order to join what looked like a sure thing. Got another offer from BigCo #2 a few years later for ~$1MM RSUs (now worth $4MM).

My peers that went to BigCos have done far, far better than me financially. All are above $500k/year in total comp, and quite a few above $1MM/year due to FAANG stocks going up so much.

Startup compensation math just doesn't work when you're competing against the BigCos these days. Liquidity horizons are ~10 years for the few successes that work out, the equity portions are meager (esp after dilution). Even ignoring the risk of no liquidity event, you still come out behind what the big companies are paying these days.

I'll probably never join a startup again, but if I do, all salary assumptions assume an equity value of zero.

Out of curiosity and a bit of jealousy :-) What is the programming field companies are willing to give MM of RSU to programmers? Do you really make a difference to their top line? I had the impression that it’s more the project management and business development that can justify that compensation.

Honestly, these companies just have so much money right now and their stock keeps on going up. They're competing for top talent, so bidding wars happen.

These were L6 offers at the time. Gets much more ridiculous the higher you go (over $1MM/year comp)

I'm not a super specialist or anything, just a solid developer (mostly front end, some back end)

These companies are basically 'finance' at this point. Instead of markets and assets it's platforms and data.

$2MM RSU over 4 years is $500k in stock compensation. That kind of comp is less about field and more about level. You're looking at an L7+ for that kind of comp at any of the big companies (maybe L8?). So Senior Staff/Principal Engineer type of deal.

not a programmer, but product manager. I feel your pain on startup #1.

The startups are a crapshoot, they can be a great stepping stone, but assume the equity is worth zero. The right 'big company' is going to be more lucrative in most cases by a lot.

Is it any surprise that startups pay less than Google or Facebook?

I don't know anyone that thinks they'll break even vs. FAANG, and that's even when counting stock options as cash (which 99% of people will rightly tell you to ignore).

> Is it any surprise that startups pay less than Google or Facebook?

I always knew startups would pay a less, but I always thought it wasn't that much less. Turns out I vastly over-estimated the chances of liquidity in startups, and vastly under-estimated just how much the BigCos are willing to pay as you climb up the ladder.

Was a very eye opening experience when I started having frank conversations w/ peers at those BigCos

I think your past mentality is what a lot of people have still in the bay area. It seems that every person I meet at startups thinks that their stock is going to be worth significantly more than the strike price.

If a startup has a decent exit, it's usually that founders get a life changing amount of money and then employees get car changing amount of money. Even if my 50,000 shares sell at $10/piece... It's definitely not any better than what I would've received at Google/FB. And I'd be nearly guaranteed to get those shares at Big N and liquidate them vs low single digit chance at a startup. The expected value when it comes to stock compensation at startups, in my rough estimate, is maybe 10% of that of what you'd see at a Big N.

I'm actually surprised that as a 'Principal Architect' he was only making $208,000 a year. Considering that entry-level positions at large companies which can have cash compensation of around $150,000+, it seems he may have been 'underpaid'.

Of course $208,000 is nothing to scoff at, and money is hardly the most important thing when it comes to life. Just interesting to see that a reasonably large Bay-area company would pay such a high-level engineer barely more than new grads can get.

In the US, maybe.

In other countries like the UK, a principal architect is probably not getting half that.

I would guess from a quick google that an architect in the UK is on around £50k to £70k. Which is $63k to $90k.

I'm a senior software engineer with around 10years experience. I'm on £38k ($48k) plus a very small bonus, maybe £2 to £3k if I'm lucky.

Last job was a mid-level engineer on £28k. I've seen junior developers as low as £20k and senior engineers on as low as £35k.

I really can't understand why they stay in the UK then, to be honest. We seem to have better salaries and generally lower cost of living across the sea...

I have no affiliation with this company but here's a recent example, quoted at 95k so you could presumably push higher:


Family, friends, football club, being in ones own culture?

Not everyone is ready, able or willing to start a new life somewhere.

And an important detail to remember is that Europeans usually work a lot less than Americans. Due to progressive taxes people tend to choose for more time off rather than more pay.

>And an important detail to remember is that Europeans usually work a lot less than Americans. Due to progressive taxes people tend to choose for more time off rather than more pay.

Yep, anecdotal but time is just so much more valuable in my 20s than the extra (taxed) money. The sweet spot atleast for me is a 3 day work week. Pays enough and it has a decent balance.

I could never trade this situation for a US dev job even for 3-4x the salary.

Yeah - but I was referring to Ireland. When headhunters contact me it's weird how the British ones offer surprisingly low salaries compared to Ireland, Germany, Finland, etc. (obviously this is after converting to EUR). I suppose I should have been more specific about which sea I referred to.

And time is incredibly valuable, if only because for most of us enjoying time is the whole damn point of working. I find playing with my kid or traveling or working on side projects much more fulfilling than my day job (which is fine, but ultimately just a job)

Yeah that's fair, but (again, purely personal) I also wouldn't want to move from the Alps to live in Dublin, no matter the salary.

I agree that the salaries are lower, but also tax is a fair bit less in the UK than some EU countries. When I did the math on paying UK taxes vs registering in France for French taxes, the take home would only have been ~50% of net salary on the French system.

Ah, to be honest I love mountains and in the long term have considered ways to live closer to them. In Ireland we only have tall hills at best, but people are offended if you call them that...

However Ireland was where I got a visa, and now that I'm here it's not bad.

Well, the places where you'd get better salaries than London probably don't have a much lower cost of living. Personally I'd consider working somewhere like California for a couple of years for the experience, but like a lot of Brits I just don't think the US would be a comfortable cultural fit.

Right, but I was referring to the Irish Sea. €95k (about $107k thanks to the atrocious euro atm) for that job would be ridiculously low in the valley, after all. As someone who left California for Europe because I wanted a better cultural fit I wouldn't tell Brits they should move to the US. But Ireland appears to offer better salaries, for all of its housing issues is still cheaper than southeast England, and isn't so dissimilar culturally.

TBF sticker shock isn't just for salaries. When I started looking at private health insurance in Ireland I kept double-checking to make sure they weren't quoting weekly rates or similar; I couldn't believe how cheap it was. Similarly, the cost of living is much more than it used to be, but SV dwarfs Dublin (and most other places) for COL.

Also, I just hated coming in to work on Monday morning and being greeted with annoyance that I hadn't read my boss' email from Sunday night. I wasn't too keen on the look of disbelief when I asked for two whole weeks off, either.

Funny enough being a European citizen working in California seems like the best of both worlds. You'd get very high pay but still have a fallback in the event of illness, injury, unemployment, etc. And, of course, some of us have partners who don't work in tech and the salary disparities there are much smaller (or in some cases, favour Europe - at least the northern bits)

Hah, sorry, I assumed you meant the Atlantic and your username confirmed it in my head. Should have read your link more carefully.

Interestingly, Dublin ranked 19th in the Economist's 2018 Worldwide cost of living report, whereas London came 30th.

I don't know about the UK, but there was a recent breakdown of salary of US vs France and though there is a delta in the absolute salaries offert, the gap was almost closed when considering health care, vacation, or other benefits. It's important to consider that the salary can be buying you a lifestyle and some savings, not a high-score.

UK salaries are dire. When I moved from the UK to Canada my salary doubled and my expenses in the UK (Brighton) were actually higher than here in Canada.

I could probably double my salary again moving to the US but I don't want to stay in a place that doesn't have a solid route to citizenship. The TN visas being temporary, non-dual intent and not allowing my spouse to work. Maybe my company will transfer me on an L1.

Also, there was as story on the BBC today about a firm that can't hire software engineers even offering 100k in compensation (which is pretty good for the UK). I rarely see postings for positions that pay this much. London salaries seem to cap out at around 60k which is peanuts considering how expensive the city is.


What's funny is Canadians often lament their lousy salaries compared to their US counterparts. But I've found that by "US", they really mean "Silicon Valley". It's not a fair comparison.

Also, quality of life matters and should be factored in.

I personally would prefer to live in Denver or Austin.

I am really amazed at the salaries you Brits are getting. I work in Germany and are getting headhunters calling me. When I question them about the salary, it becomes a immediately blocker as they are not able to match my German salary.

Once an engineer start working on the continent, I would imagine that it would be hard to go back to Britain solely for monetary reasons.

I'm a senior software engineer and am earning £70k in Edinburgh. You may be getting underpaid depending on where you are.

I'm a mid level engineer earning £45k in Bristol, not including additional benefits and perks. To get that I moved from a small company to a very big software employer in the UK. I've found that UK salaries have a massive range but it's pretty much the big companies paying the top end ones, and then all the rest paying the lower ones.

I have many friends with the same years of experience as myself, and similar tech stacks. They're working for smaller organisations across the south of England and on roughly £28-30k with few/no perks past the standard UK pension payments.

I think a lot of people are underpaid in the UK (including the parent poster), in particular those at smaller companies and smaller consulting agencies. However I imagine it's less of an issue in London.

I have 4 years experience and earn £ 45k as an AI dev in a small business who sponsored my work visa. Secured 3 job offers in the same magnitude in diverse roles during my job search spree earlier this year. DevOps, Python data consultancy and this one. I have recruiters bugging me every day because of my polyglot experience but those roles won't sponsor my visa.

On QoL, I have a 2 bedroom flat in a nice area within a 15 min walk of tech employers. This is equivalent to owning prime real-estate in San Fransisco.

Depends of course where you are, but it sounds like you are getting underpaid.

In London a senior engineer will get at least £60k (depending on what 'senior' means and how many currently hot languages you list on your CV). I know people in obscure parts of the country, with next to no tech scene, who aren't far off that.

The real money in the UK is in contracting though, or go to the dark side and work in finance.

I've seen some sky high contracting rates in London listed on indeed.co.uk (£85-£120 per hour). I was never sure if they were legit.

Also, it doesn't really matter to me since I'm a US Citizen with no cheap Visa route.

Eh no one pays per hour here, it's all day rates. But yeah 500-700 is common. You see up to 850 every now and then. 1000 is heard of but .. not so much.

Perm roles are now (finally) getting better at competing with sky-high contracting rates. Every successive budget also makes contracting a slightly less lucrative situation.

The gap is getting smaller for certain contracts, but it's still huge.

What's wrong with working in finance in London? (I'm genuinely curious)

Depends a lot on whether you are in finance. Plenty of people there are on £150k or more coding for front office stuff. My LinkedIn always has someone touting 200k or more roles.

Assuming your outside of London?

Principle architect on £150-200k is entirely usual in the smoker.

UK market is changing a lot.

You can get lead roles for 100k+ at least in London without having to go to finance.

I've seen most mid level roles in London go for between 50-60k.

Outside of the capital is very different.

Are you in London? If so those numbers seem really low.

Source: I'm a junior engineer being paid in the mid 30s, most of the seniors I know make well north of £60-70k.

I'm the Systems Architect in a small (fifteen people) non-IT consultancy, and I'm on £72k, so I'd say your estimates are bang on.

As a small-town-developer, I'm on ~50k as a boring, middle-of-the-road corporate dev.

To compare I'm mid 20s and I'm making £80,000 working in London as a Software Engineer.

Would you be able to purchase a home or condo in the Bay area with a $208k salary? If so, what could you get (size, quality, approximity to the main tech areas)?

Yes. Well, yes if you assume decent credit and some cash saved up for a down payment. The conventional 20% wisdom can be safely ignored as a relic from the 1950s in the Bay.

It's definitely possible to buy a condo or detached house in Oakland for the 400k-700k that would likely be affordable on that salary. The condo, probably a one-bedroom might be a decade or less old, the house much more likely to be older, and probably not insanely distant from BART. This means reasonable access to SF, but annoying to get further south to the peninsula.

"The conventional 20% wisdom can be safely ignored as a relic from the 1950s in the Bay."

Curious what you mean by that - too high or too low? What do folks actually put down?

Anecdotally, I've seen both - I have friends that put down ~40-50% down, have heard of foreign buyers paying all-cash on multiple homes, but also have heard of people really stretching with 5% or 10% down mortgages to afford a home.

To clarify, I mean that the old wisdom that you can only buy if you can put 20% down does not apply in the same sense that it is voices.

50% down is wonderful! But it's likely most engineers would be unable to manage that. The same is true of all-cash.

5% or 10% down is workable, and finding loans compatible with that will not be difficult if you are willing to work lenders familiar with local market conditions. PMI will generally be required, but it isn't likely to be nearly as expensive as people might expect (think 0.5%-1% of total loan amount). Further, odds are against our hypothetical engineer being able to work up a 20% downpayment on a property they want in a short enough timeframe that it does not appreciate out of reach. Finally, the people resting their dreams of homeownership on a major property price crash in the Bay to afford a 20% downpayment should not be emulated, as they are banking on an unlikely event and assuming they will be correctly positioned to take advantage.

In short, high recurring cashflow can reasonably be used to make up for a comparatively low amount of liquid cash, and this is often preferable to the other options people might choose to pursue.

Knowing what people put down with any certainty is not something I am able to do. I can just say that the old wisdom is sufficiently dated that it should be ignored by prospective homebuyers in the Bay.

you were able to do it in 2014 on the $208K. The 2018 equivalent of those $208K - a principal at a hot company is $450-$550 (Google's L5-L6 medians) and it does allow to buy very nice townhouse in MV/PA/SNVL or even a modest home.

As I noted in another comment he’s for whatever reason only counting cash salary.

I agree with your point though, no matter how bad it makes me feel :(

Fair points, though I don't know how high of an expected value I'd give to 50k of Box options. It's hard for me to imagine that options given that late are that valuable. I'd imagine the equity compensation at lots of other places would be better.

Don't feel bad though, these high salaries typically happen at large companies in extremely expensive areas. So, the money isn't as much as it seems, and you likely will feel like a small cog in a giant-money-making corporation. In other words, chasing the money is often not worth it.

I think I do fine, but I do already work in a very expensive area at a very large company.

And what's your expenses per month ? I see there are big salaries in the US but when i imagine, i am in central EU, smaller country, there's possibility to get 4-5k € per month in gross, that's around 3,5k in net and cost living even if you have 2/3 rooms flat and other daily stuff would not be higher than 1000€ per month. A have to note, you work 40 hours per week, around 170 hours per month max.

In 2014.

Entry level 150k is a lawyer or quant maybe.

> Principal Architect

This could be a title for guy who decides whether to use React or Vue, webpack or whatever.

Very interesting thread this link has spawned. Not telling each other how much we make is only good for our employers, not us. So here we go:

The Netherlands, 26yo male:

45k ($50k) as a technical trainee. It's €3200 ($3600) pre-tax a month and €2350 ($2670) after tax with %12,5 end of year bonus.

First job here, and this is already above modal for my country. I'm very happy with it, especially seeing I don't have a formal IT education I just thought myself through hobbies and messing around. Some salaries here are insane!

Of course my cost of living is lower but rent/mortgage has gone up _a lot_ in my country since the ECB started printing money. €1500 a month in or around Amsterdam for 2 people isn't weird anymore and there are practically no houses <€250k

It boggles my mind that salaries can be so much lower in parts of Europe, while expenses are about the same as the US. Of course if you are living in New York City or San Francisco area expenses are higher, but most places they are not.

As always: it's not that Black and White.

Many people in my country, and NW Europe in general, opt for pay in another currency: time.

Dutch people work _on average_ 350 hours less per year than their US counterparts; or about 7 weeks worth when working 40 hours a week.

It's not unheard of in my company to have between 30 and 50 paid days off per year on top of the national holidays. These days are negotiated during salary discussions and a trade off between pay and time.


Germany, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden etc... We all basically opt for more time off than more pay.

And this is possible in part due to the high taxes; we have no medical bills, no education bills, pension is taken care of, etc..

I for one, would gladly opt for a 4 day work week with 60k pay a year in stead of a 5 day workweek with 90k pay.

I hear this a lot, but you can do the same thing in the US with a much higher salary. I have taken 4 to 5 weeks off in a year, plus two weeks of national holidays, with no pay cut at all. You can negotiate for more. US companies will pay for your healthcare basically completely (your entire family), and contribute towards continuing education and your retirement accounts.

Granted, that doesn't continue after you stop working for them, but we do have federal government provided money and medical coverage after retirement age. I think people have a caricature of what the US system is because as Americans we have a culture of complaining about our government, which I usually wholeheartedly participate in :)

The bottom line is, in my opinion, if you like your particular culture, you will be happier where you are because it won't be replicated quite the same anywhere else. But the overall standard of living for software engineers in the United States is extremely high. Even when people are complaining about housing prices, they aren't much higher than in Europe, and you get a really nice living space for it that is usually much larger with nicer amenities. And in many places in the US, including where I live, the prices are cheaper and I get a nice big house with land and a beautiful view.

I understand and I agree with you for the most part. My response was to the "It boggles my mind that salaries can be so much lower in parts of Europe" comment above me.

Software Engineers definitely get paid more in the US than in the EU. But some of the difference can be explained by it. Although I don't think software engineers in either country have much to complain about.

That being said, these perks that I listed go for everyone in the country, not just the top % of all working people. In one form or another this is paid for by people who can, like software engineers.

p.s. 4 weeks is the legal minimum amount of vacation days here. Most people have double that.

On average means very little, especially across all positions considered. Also, in software it is very easy to bill hours, it very loosely correlates to productivity, which I don't think particularly varies that much across nationalities (and in my experience Americans like to overstate their work ethic as if working overtime is a badge of honor)

Nevertheless 350/40 = 8.75, but it is still far from covering the wage disparity.

I for one, would gladly report an extra hour each day for a 50-500% boost in my salary.

I know it says little, but don't have any stats comparing just IT jobs. This was the best I could do and I think it does get the message across.

The more vacation / paid days off per year definitely doesn't cover the (entire) wage disparity. But it helps. I don't know many Americans that get every 2nd Friday off (36hours workweek) while it is commonplace in NL, as well as simply taking August off by default.

I'm not saying salaries in the US aren't higher. They are! But I just hope my explanation covers some of the "mind boggling" part of how European salaries are lower.

You should be getting 72k for a 4 day week.

Even the big companies do this. My employer is a FANG and I'm based in London. Rents are nearly as expensive as in San Francisco... But if I moved to Silicon Valley, I'd get 40% more base pay for the same work.

The only justification for this policy is something called "cost of labor" — in other words: "We've agreed with other tech companies that nobody's going to raise salaries locally."

I think the best of all possibilities is move to silicon valley, get a high paying job, earn the confidence of those around you with good work and communication skills, then go remote and fight to keep the same salary. Then live wherever you want.

This can be done, people are doing it.

Nearly I would have said London is more expensive than SF

Geographic location is not a protected class, it is not discrimination but considered smart business to pay as little as possible.



Burner account. All numbers adjusted to USD:

2007: Junior developer $25k (no bonus)

2008: Project manager $50k (10% bonus)

2009: Project Manager $65k (10% bonus)

2011: Senior Project Manager $92 (10% bonus)

2011: Product Manager $97k (Some worthless options as it turns out, and an approximately 8% bonus)

2012: Founded my own startup / developer $28k that year

2013: Startup founder / CTO $65k

2014: Startup founder / CTO $150k

2015: Startup founder / CTO $150k

2016: Startup founder / CTO $250k + 10% bonus (acquired)

2017: Startup founder / CTO $250k + 10% bonus

2018: Startup founder / CTO $325k + $100k bonus + $100k stock

2018: I'm now taking a break from work.

Also a burner. All include health insurance.

2012: Graduated with CS degree from top 10 public school, 2.9 GPA

2013: Mid-sized co in Texas, Software engineer, $70k salary, $20k RSUs vesting over 4 years, ~5k/yr cash bonuses

2014: Same company, bump to $75k salary

2015: Same company, bump to $80k salary

Later 2015: Jumped to seeded startup in Texas, software engineer, $70k salary, 50-70 hours/wk, aspirational but worthless equity options

2017: Same company, bump to $90k, 60-80 hours/wk, VP title (though doing work of a CTO), aspirational but worthless equity bonuses.

2018: Same company, no salary change, could request higher salary but have not because I am using it to make myself to work smarter rather than harder. Earning equity bonuses upon achieving targets. Generally working fewer hours now and have hired in some help so while responsibilities and problems are harder, work weeks are not so long.

Expecting a salary increase to range of $110-130k within 12 months (else will quit and work on my own business ideas). I believe I could obtain a $130k salary elsewhere now but have not interviewed to to find out and am not inclined to.

Seems to be that you went to the management pretty soon. Seems to pay much better.

Yeah i guess that's just my strong suit so i went with it.

So you had a new startup every year?

Sorry, i should have been clearer. There were 2 distinct startups i founded during that time. One at the start of 2012, which died mid-2012, and the other started mid-2012 and I worked on all the way through till 2018.

I should also mention, this was in Canada. And yeah, I didn't keep the PW to my previous burner account. Not used to posting anom info :-(

I'm curious, was this pay from raised money or did you actually generate revenue to cover your pay?

When it was 65k it was just from raised money, just to take the focus away from how to pay rent and back on the business. We had revenue, but it was in my opinion insignificant (Less than $1 million).

We bumped it to $150k around the time that we had about $5 million in revenue, and post acquisition it was increased by the purchaser several times.

I'm currently based in Toronto

    2012 - small business owner                             - 60k AED / yr (no taxes) - built Wordpress websites in my spare time
    2013 - technical cloud marketing intern                 - 60k / yr CAD            - FAANGish company
    2013 - contractor                                       - 30k / yr CAD            - Engineering consultancy
    2014 - Software Dev Fullstack                           - 22k / yr CAD            - early stage startup
    2015 - Lead Software Dev Fullstack / Architect + DevOps - 55k / yr CAD            - very early stage startup
    2015 - Lead Software Dev Fullstack / Architect + DevOps - 60k / yr CAD            - very early stage startup
    2016 - Software Dev                                     - 60k / yr CAD            - medium stage startup
    2016 - Techincal Consultant                             - 90k / yr CAD            - small public company
    2017 - Software Engineer + DevOps                       - 99k / yr CAD            - medium public company
    2018 - Senior Software Engineer + DevOps + SRE          - 120k / yr CAD           - medium public company

I too am in Toronto and this is my career progression:

2015 - Linux System Administrator - $65k - large company 2016 - DevOps Engineer - $79k - startup 2017 - DevOps Engineer - $95k - large company 2018 - Site Reliability Engineer - $115k - medium company

2015 - $110K CAD - Senior Developer

2018 - $120K CAD - Senior DevOps Engineer (+ $12K bonus).

7 years experience as of today

This is certainly an intresting post and i likethe OP attitude. We should be totally transparent about our compensation as he did. Salary is just the result of a negotiation, nothing else, in the majority of cases it does not reflect anything more than your "perceived" value.

White male born in the '88 in Italy. I have a bachelor degree and working since 2008. Here in Italy is quite uncommon to have big jumps in salaries if you want to stay in the "Technical" position.

However it's quite common to have "food stamps" for lunch as benefit ( range between 5€ to 8€ )

2008 - 18000 €/year - Junior Software Developer - Consulting Firm A

2009 - 19000 €/year - Software Developer - Consulting Firm A

2010 - 20000 €/year - Software Developer - Consulting Firm A

2011 - 21000 €/year - Software Developer - Consulting Firm A

2012 - 23000 €/year - Senior Software Developer - Online booking startup (No stock options)

2013 - 25000 €/year - Senior Software Developer - Consulting Firm B

2014 - 25000 €/year - Senior Software Developer - Consulting Firm B

2015 - 28000 €/year - Technical Lead - Consulting Firm B

2016 - 30000 €/year - Technical Lead - Consulting Firm B

2017 - 32000 €/year - Technical Lead - Consulting Firm C

2018 - 32000 €/year - Technical Lead / Solution Architect / Whatever - Consulting Firm C

Get on Upwork, you will make more after ~2 years of developing your reputation.

Is that your personal experience? I read almost only negative opinions about Upwork, and it's seems another broken solution looking for a problem to solve.

Work for Toronto-based company. Most of our developers work remote (in S. America, Europe, Asia, etc) and were discovered via Upwork.

We've been growing, so all the good devs have been retained long term (12-24 months and counting). IOW, if you're good (decent tech chops + strong English communication), you can find long-term engagements via upwork in places that pay well.

The best engineers are likely not using that. Most of them get burned, and you're mostly left with engineers that are reallly good at marketing. I could be wrong. I tried it for a few months. I only got one question, and I basically helped a guy understand docker for free during the evaluation. I guess someone needs to start an upwork for serious people.

We did churn our share of low performers at the beginning. I'd say 5 of the first 10 hires stuck (most of the churn was us terminating the relationship). The ones that stayed were able to refer a friend or two.

Also, another downside: fraud. We ran into 2-3 folks who were operating outright scams, ranging from an agency posing as an individual, to identity / account theft.

Are these figures after taxes/INPS/health insurance etc.?

Sorry i didn't say that all those figures are Before Taxes. I live in northen italy in a place where living is not too much expensive.

As a local could you tell me: is it true what they say that work in IT in northern Italy is mainly in Milan and maaaaybe in Verona and Ferrara?

I wanted to move to Bologna, but I had trouble finding any interesting offers.

I don't know about Verona and Ferrara but i can confirm that IT work (in northern Italy) is mainly in Milan. But to live in Milan is quite expensive. You can also check job offers in Turin.

Be also aware that in Italy there are mostly consulting firms, and really few product companies, even if in the last years something is changing...

Ok. Thank you for all the information.

Isn't 32k a bit low for a laureato with 10year experience?


Italian here too, 1978. Salary is after taxes:

1999 - 12000 €/year - Junior sysadm @ ISP (startup)

2002 - 19000 €/year - Sysadmin @ large ISP

Then I had issues paying my bills and mortgage, so I moved to Ireland

2007 - 42000 €/year - Senior Sysadmin @ small R&D company

2008 - 45000 €/year - Network Engineer @ large multinational

2009 - 52000 €/year - Senior Sysadmin @ fintech company

2010 - 65000 €/year - Senior Sysadm @ US startup based in IE

2012 - 70000 €/year - Devops Engineer @ US startup based in IE

2015 - 80000 €/year - Technical Lead @ remote job

Now - 90000 €/year as TechOps Lead for another remote position.

If I where you I'd try at least ranking up your salary moving out of Italy, then with the connections you make you can easily double or triple your salary. JM2EC.

Everyone is posting salaries... How about hours worked. I sometimes feel like a frog in a pot and am in the office for 45 hours a normal week and at times 50. Once in a while a few hours of production support on nights and weekends.

The only time I worked 40 hours was government...

I realize it could also be the nature of the application. Looks like the author is mainly on UI while my application, and at my previous company, processes time sensitive data 24x7.

I often times I did only UI work, or QA work to not have production calls.

I work for an American BigCo writing server-side code. I typically put in a 50 hour week. Salary: $155,000

However, I work remotely (I am not American) so I have that flexibility, and I also don't waste time commuting. To me, the extra hours in the chair are worth it.

I work in a unicorn startup and never work more than 45 hours a week. They also give us one day a week to work remotely but I never take it because I prefer the free food.

I average 35, if that. Work in fintech. Once or twice a year there's a week where in pushing 60+ but that's usually on my own volition.

Nice money at those big American companies. In Australia, you have to become a plumber to get to those levels :-)

The pay rates for tradies in Australia is phenomenal. If I had kids, I'd be encouraging them to become electricians, not software engineers.

Even a lot of unskilled jobs pay really well in Australia. I have a friend who works for Aldi in their distribution centre as a general worker, and he's on $35 per hour (only 6 hour shifts though, I think), plus when he's rostered on Sunday he goes up to $70 an hour.

Anecdotally, as a software developer in Melbourne for a small company, with 2 years experience, I'm on AU$75k + super, which is a pretty comfortable wage. Coming from NZ$42k (and only 3% super) back in New Zealand, it was certainly a nice payrise.

Likewise, living in Melbourne Australia, I dropped out of school after year 11, tried an mechanical apprenticeship for a year but didn't like it so I started freelancing (Javascript) in 2013.

2013 $20k (freelance) 100+ clients

2014 $75k (salary + super) 100+ employees

2015 $70k (salary + super) ~50 employees

2016 $120k (freelance) 8 clients

2017 $70k (salary + super) 3 employees

2018 $90k (salary + super) ~15 employees

2016 was by far my best year, still living at home (with parents) and after tax almost all of it went into savings.

At this stage I plan negotiating for $120k after christmas which I think is inline with my peers.

And for those talking about $4 coffee's, most places I know give discount if you BYO cup!

Oz has a fairly hard and low dev salary ceiling for smaller companies, excepting maybe some Melbourne hotspots. If you want decent scratch you have to go corporate, but the content often sucks.

I think the reason for that is American tech companies simply make a lot more money. They have a bigger market to server and USA first makes it easier to conquer the rest of the world, but Australia first normally ends up sandboxed in Australia, with some exceptions. The companies selling internationally will tend to pay more, as well as the cartels e.g. the banks, super, etc.

At 2 years experience I was on ~50k package in Melbourne, and at 6 years ~200k.

The pay tends to start off a lot lower here compared to the hot spots in the US but somewhat catches up from what I’ve seen.

Can you describe you position, I am assuming an architect?

Just a senior dev but contracting.

American here, I'm not convinced I shouldn't encourage my kids to get into the trades.

Do you have family or friends in the trades?

I always get called elitist/out-of-touch when I point this out, but it's really true that most people working in trades do $50k with mediocre benefits.

Everyone always lashes out at this with anecdata, but both the hard data from Labor and the 15+ datapoints I have personally all seem to agree that $60k is "really good", and that's with overtime. Statistically, for every wealthy plumber/small business owner pulling down 100k+, there are a lot of folks pulling down $50k or less working for the man.

Other downsides: The trades are extremely sensitive to certain types of recessions. And most trades are hard on your body. Plumber is actually one of the better trades from that perspective. Even stuff like welding and machining, which outsides think of as less hard on your body, are usually brutal. If the setup was such that they don't need you carrying stuff, going up and down stairs, etc. all day -- ie. if you could just stand in one place and weld/cnc without doing back-breaking labor -- then they'd have automated the work already.

This might all be specific to the two labor markets I know most well, but... sigh for smart kids, going to college for an in-demand STEM degree is still a great life choice and probably much higher ROI than a trade. And saying so isn't elitist.

Driving truck also seems to do better over the past two decades than most trades. Still sensitive to recessions, but much less so. None of my trucker relatives/friends have had bouts of unemployment since 2008, but all the construction and manufacturing trades have been in and out of work pretty much continually since 2009 (maybe things got better around late 2015)

If college isn't for your kids, have them also consider healthcare. Might be more stable during recessions and less hard on their body. The only downside is that there are fewer options for entrepreneurial endeavors than in the trades. Also, outside of large cities, there's only one or two dominant employers and that holds down wages. But the same is true in tech and trades.

I have found the HN crowed has a rosey view on trade jobs that doesn't seem to reflect reality. Family members of mine are employed primarily by trades (lots of plumbers, some carpenters and electrician's) and a lot of what you say is spot on. There are certainly cases where they can make a lot of money, but it's definitely not easy not a golden ticket that I see a lot of HN comments make it out to be.

In Australia which this reply chain is about trades get paid exceptionally well if you have a successful business operation (not working for someone else). There's simply an oversupply of university graduates and a very liberal visa program for IT workers. Most tradies here have their own business so any income figures are highly misleading. As an example he may earn 65k on his tax retrun but his wife does the "accounts" (65k goes there too) + the cash jobs that they don't declare on tax. A good tradie can earn 150k easy and pay less tax than the average office worker due to clever business accounting. And there's always work; and none of those "horror" stories you hear about software interviews here on HN and other sites.

^ This.

In Melbourne, I graduated school in 1997. With a bachelor and a PhD and a few years in R&D in biotech I am able to rent in the inner city.

My neighbour is a

1) a tradie my age,

2) owns the house and has another investment property,

3) and finishes work at 3pm to hang with his three kids.

My comment was specific to the USA and maybe even certain parts of the USA.

> Most tradies here have their own business

Maybe this really is true in Australia. IDK. People say this a lot in the USA, but both statistics and personal anecdata indicate it's complete bullshit. Starting a business is hard. Getting the money to start up is hard. Handling cash flow is hard. Handling everything from deadbeat clients to litigious clients is hard.

> + the cash jobs that they don't declare on tax.

Software engineers can also make $$$ by committing tax fraud and other crimes.

It's not criminal per se. It's all in the law - they just aren't perks available to the typical employee. The cash jobs are but they're in a business where they can get this; a typical engineer can't ask to be paid in cash from a large corporate client even if they are freelance. In Australia it isn't that hard - people often can't get tradies here and as a tradie you are spoilt with calls for work. I personally know some pretty rude tradies that constantly get work anyway despite doing bad work. Getting a tradie to travel more than 5km to do work around my house depending on the trade is hard; they have enough work within a 5 K radius not to bother. They can charge what they like and typically do. Especially for the top end of town.

<<I have a friend who works for Aldi in their distribution centre as a general worker, and he's on $35 per hour (only 6 hour shifts though, I think), plus when he's rostered on Sunday he goes up to $70 an hour.

How much does a cup of coffee go for in Au?

Around $4.

And developers can certainly make over 100/hr, but in my experience that would mean contracting/consulting as a specialist with at least 5 years experience in a given technology.

(in melbourne) $4 a coffee for fancy cafes in expensive parts of town. $0 a coffee if you dont care and are happy to swig whatever is free at work.

can certainly hit $aud 100 / hour and upwards for full-time contract gigs with bigcos (banks, finance, telcos). can hit that with less than 5 years experience.

if the client knows what they're doing they may also assess for ability, not just years experience. but at least some big clients don't know what they're doing and are overrun with whatever resources of varying ability bodyshops manage to palm off onto their projects.

Private companies are probably more likely to account for actual experience. I've mostly dealt with government contracting where 5 years seemed to be the magic threshold.

so you just make and save money in Australia? Rent and all are normal prices or what's the story ? I know the economy has been booming for 20+ years.

The housing market, and thus rents, have also boomed in that time. General cost of living is also pretty high in Australia.

Funny you should say that. So here's my situation: college diploma (massage, 2005-07), BSc (bio/psych, 2007-11), MSc (psych, 2013-15), MSc (econ/bus, 2018-19)... and yet my main money-maker continues to be massage because:

1. $110 CAD ($83 USD)/h

2. I set my own schedule, both weekly and time off (self-employed).

3. Zero stress: no one's ever stressed coming in, and I get to directly help people in pain. These people tend to be very neat and I have an hour to get to know them and the interesting lives they lead. It's very fulfilling.

Since starting my current practice in Vancouver six years ago I've made $300,000 CAD ($230,000 USD) total, working an average of 3.5 months/year (or, more accurately, averaging 8 months/year, 3.5 days/week). It's paid off my BSc student loan and covered an expensive MSc that I was able to finance while simultaneously completing it full-time in Europe for two years. I'm now able to turn my focus to helping my family get out of debt.

I should add that I've worked the same in Toronto, Nova Scotia, Montreal, and Yellowknife, and nowhere was it this good. I'm also quite good at what I do and am a real people person -- these are key. And a white male as well, but our clinic is made up primarily of ladies who make the same as me, just less in total as I work longer -- 8-10h compared to their 5-7h days.

I'm so happy this conversation was started. I wish I could have read this post before diving headlong into student loan debts the first decade of my adult life.

> Zero stress: no one's ever stressed coming in

Isn't stress a reason to go get a massage?

Yes, but not once I'm with them (unlike a dentist or a car mechanic, for example).

If it makes you feel any better, Australian software salaries seem pretty high compared to most of the world.

I more than doubled my salary moving from the UK (Bristol) to Australia (Sydney), while my living costs only went up a little higher.

I went from Australia (Sydney) to UK (London) and wondering how your costs only went up a 'little'?!

Probably because I live close to an Aldi.

Comparing Bristol's prices to Sydney's:

Rent: Sydney is maybe 50% more expensive. There is no council tax in Sydney, and the houses are bigger.

Food: In Sydney, groceries are usually more expensive (prices seem to be seasonal), but eating out is cheaper. The overall variety of food is better in Sydney, but Indian food is better in Bristol.

Booze: Beer is maybe 30% more expensive in Sydney, there is much less variety, and the pubs are less cozy. Wine is much cheaper and better in Sydney.

Bills: gas and electricity bills are both much, much cheaper in Sydney.

Transport: I don't own a car. Public transport is better and cheaper in Sydney than Bristol.

I found London -> Sydney that rents were cheaper with more value for money in Sydney.

Food is a lot more expensive - but I guess if you eat cheaply or take advantage of office perks it could get the cost down.

Alcohol / going out is a lot more expensive.

Fuel / public transport is cheaper (but public transport is not as good in Sydney).

Tax is slightly less with no National Insurance to pay, and the employer is not paying it an sticking that into your Superannuation (Pension) instead.

How did you go about getting a work visa for Australia?

They're high but not enormously so, IME if you're in Sydney or Melbourne and are competent you can be making $110k+ with 5 years experience. Even more if you're skilled in something that's in demand (data science and DevOps ATM).

From what I've seen I actually think we are lucky to have the highest dev salaries outside of the US. Which is kind of suprisingly in a way, because we don't have too many large internet companies headquartered here and the startup scene isn't huge.

Possibly because Australians can get an E-3 visa easily? That would mean AU salaries would have to rise to stop them simply jumping on the next plane to S.F.

Hmm, maybe.. but anecdotally there's not too many Australians who want to pick up their lives and move to the states. I would guess the majority of devs here wouldn't know about the E-3 visa in fact.

Plumbers work hard to show the right amount of crack. That's a pretty important life skill!

Please don't do this here.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact