The finding that most surprised me was that the mean salary for an engineer without a college degree is only $3k (~2%) less than for those with one; this gap is much smaller than in the labor market as a whole. One explanation is that CS really is a field where educational signaling doesn't (or at least needn't) matter as much as in other industries - we recently discussed this with Bryan Caplan over on our blog (https://triplebyte.com/blog/bryan-caplan-interview). I'm self-taught and don't have a CS degree, but I do have a college degree which still opens doors. I'd be curious to hear from other developers without a formal background on this.
Boot-camp grads average $19k less - but $130k is still quite a bit higher than I've seen bootcamps advertising. Could this be indicating that they're at a disadvantage in the normal hiring process just for signaling reasons?
The sample set of people using TripleByte is not going to be remotely representative of the market for developers as a whole. Candidates with stronger resumes are not going to be using third party recruiters to spray their resume around; they are going to be applying directly to the companies they want to work at or getting headhunted by the companies themselves.
- TripleByte imposes a cost (having to go through their process) in exchange for getting to signal programming ability, a prerequisite to getting in the door (getting an interview)
- People with strong credentials don't need to incur that cost, so they probably won't do so.
This means TripleByte's pool probably doesn't have any Stanford CS grads who are looking to leave their Google job. But these are also the people who command the highest salaries. Let's say it chops off the top x-percentile of the market, for some reasonable definition of x (10? 15?)
Then, TripleByte's screening process probably also chops off the bottom y-percentile, because those are people who can't actually pass the screening.
Once you restrict the range like that, and also make paper credentials less relevant because there's an alternate signal available, of course the rates are going to be compressed.
I wouldn't say Triplebyte imposes a significant cost on the candidate. They only have two rounds: one is a quiz that's quite straightforward to complete (about a half hour of multiple choice, if I recall correctly), and a single 1-2 hour video interview. If nothing else, it's good practice for the candidate.
Plus, they dangle some brand names as partners that would attract any candidate, including the cream of the crop. Stripe, Palantir, etc. So top tier candidates are certainly likely to be convinced to give Triplebyte's process a shot.
I'm not sure how often candidates get matched with those top tier companies on Triplebyte -- I didn't get matched in my recent job search, and ended up applying and receiving offers from several of them independently of Triplebyte -- but it's certainly plausible that Triplebyte has many top candidates at least giving the platform a try.
Regardless of which candidates are using Triplebyte, the only relevant data is which candidates are _getting offers via Triplebyte_. In my experience, I received several offers, only one of them via Triplebyte (I only accepted one onsite there) - Triplebyte has no insight into my other offers.
That one offer via Triplebyte was significantly lower - at least on base - than all of the other offers I received. It would've put me in the 50ish percentile on this post's plots. The other offers put me in ~60-97 percentile. Very anecdotal, but I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of companies giving offers via Triplebyte are generally paying less than top companies who are less likely to use Triplebyte despite having a presence on the platform.
“How much software engineers on Triplebyte received in base salary offers in SF, NYC, and Seattle”
Yes, I know HTML titles cannot do any emphasis.
EDIT: HN title has now been improved by dang.
To be more accurate about “SEO/targeting”, I meant the title on the blog hosted by Triplebyte: “How much money do Software Engineers actually make?”
Edit: I took a shot. "Triplebyte" doesn't fit, but probably shouldn't be in there anyway; it's already next to the title.
You have 15 more chars to work with.
Why are those mutually exclusive? I like to think I have a decent resume and would apply to companies directly but if I can get more offers using Triplebyte why wouldnt I? Isn't their draw that you don't have to interview at individual companies but can use a streamlined application?
If you’re sincerely highly talented, you’re not going to advertise yourself as a commodity on a platform. Your increased skill may not have a chance to be displayed because the platform uses foolish things like coding trivia or a black box proprietary method for recommending salary ranges for candidates like you, or offers automatic ways to find similar candidates so that if employers don’t like your salary demands, they can use your characteristics to tailor a search for a cheaper version of you.
Putting yourself on a platform like TripleByte essentially instantly signals that you’re on the cheap, commodity end of the spectrum (and yes employers think of $130k as cheap salary for this type of position).
Using TripleByte is like cheapening your personal brand. In fact it’s even worse because you’re voluntarily doing it and voluntarily centralizing all of this interview performance data and profile data for them.
I'm confused about why you think this is irrational. If I find some startup through Triplebyte, and then apply to them, it doesn't seem like a substantially different process than if I applied directly. Once I'm talking to someone at the company, any signal based on how the recruiter found me seems like it should immediately be swamped by concrete observations about me.
If you know a better strategy for next time to find the kind of companies that Triplebyte will connect me with, I'm all ears.
If you’re OK with that, then by all means use that commodity portal to seek jobs. I mean that sincerely. If you prefer to trade possibly tens of thousands of dollars of salary, bonuses, equity or other compensation for some vague ease of access “value-add” of a platform that makes your resume function like Tinder for jobs, then you would not be irrational to search via TripleByte.
For me, for example, the fact that those positions can be matched up to me on TripleByte would literally make me reject those jobs. No thanks. I’ll either pay for a private recruiter that essentially functions like a personal talent agent, or I’ll find networking events or other boutique application portals to use that keep me exclusively looking at jobs that pay competitive rates. Hell, I’d sooner just send cold application emails through regular company HR websites than agree to be the commodity product of TripleByte.
That seems shortsighted.
If I was running a startup again and looking to grow my team after exhausting my personal network, triplebyte would be a good value proposition: reduce the time it takes me to hire by pre screening candidates and presenting me with a curated set of people to interview.
So it follows that if I wanted to join a startup I’d consider triplebyte for the same reason —- I can see busy ceos of small companies using it.
You seem to be focused on compensation not finding interesting offers though. To that I’d say two things:
1) If you want to purely optimize for compensation, work at FAANG. I don’t think they source via triplebyte so the point is moot.
2) In my experience, offer size is not related to where the candidate was sourced.
How does this follow? Obviously the buyer (busy CEOs of start-ups looking to pay below market) wants a commodity platform to buy.
That does not mean the seller (job candidates) wants to sell on that platform, especially if the platform cheapens their product (such as reducing developers to a commodity interview process that fails to capture their value additive skills).
I don’t see how customers of TripleByte are looking to pay less any more than any other ceo that’s trying to maximize profits while minimizing costs.
If Indeed is like Wal-Mart, TripleByte is like Sam’s Club. A different branding of a cheap, commodity store.
If you’re truly willing to pay a high price for something, you don’t even walk in the door at Sam’s Club. You research a boutique seller that’s harder to find.
Start-up pay is so universally bad compared even to low or mid tier public companies. I’m not sure it could be possible to use start-ups as any kind of counter argument to a question of low pay.
Are you saying it's impossible to negotiate a fair compensation package with an employer you found through TripleByte? You don't seem to be telling us why we should believe that.
After comparing to a much smaller set of broad-market resumes, it was clear that you’re right: people using online job finding tools are actually shut out, for some reason, from conventional job channels where the intuitive rules apply.
But yes, obviously there’s something wrong with the data if the salary gap observed was so small. I generally like TripleByte and its writing, but it seems like they really got something 200% wrong here.
We are a small team of 5 expecting to double in 2019, all from experienced folks extracted from big companies. We budgeted $260 each and our investors didn't bat an eye.
Let's take a $150k base salary as a specific example, as a nice round-ish number. The numbers from Triplebyte don't include bonuses and equity; I suspect that 20% combined is a reasonable assumption. That puts us at 180k.
Now we have employer costs that the employee never sees (this all assumes the US):
* Social security: $8.2k (6.2% of $132,900 in 2019).
* Medicare: $2.6k (1.45% of 180000)
* State payroll taxes (for things like unemployment insurance): ~$1.5k in California, say, mostly for State Disability Insurance bits.
We're up to $193k.
Health insurance for employees, if you provide it, is probably $10k-$30k depending on the health plan and whether the employees have families. So $203k-$223k. Equipment is a few thousand per year. Office space (if local) or possibly travel (if remote, though maybe you could try to do everything async or over videoconference), really depends on the geography.
At that size, I don't know whether you have 401(k) matching or safe harbor contributions, but if you do that's presumably another $5k-$15k depending on how generous the match is.
So a base salary of $150k means a budget of at least $205k and more likely closer to $230k or $240k.
We expect most of the hires to have tuition payments to make...not that we will pay younger hires less. But we have specific people with specific experience in mind. These folks are getting that kind of money at FAAxG today.
This is an interest statement.
It is interesting, because the data I am seeing is that apparently Triple Byte is able to give people quite successful results. (Yes, 150k base salary is pretty good).
But your statement seems to imply that candidates that use them are apparently below average or something. And yet even though they arent as good candidates, they are apparently able to give people really good results, despite that.
Is my barometer for tech salaries so off, that apparently people believe that 150k base isn't something that a "stronger" candidate might receive? Yes, I've heard of some high salaries, but I still wouldn't call this something to scoff at
(I tried Triplebyte's process this job hunt but ended up getting my current job through a personal connection instead)
Maybe if you work at google. But you have an extremely skewed view of job salaries, if you describe 150k as "terrible".
Yes, FAANGs pay a lot. But the vast majority of developers, even in san francisco, do not work at FAANGs. 150k, is just around the average salary, for a senior engineer, actually.
Non faang pay for principal engineers in Mountain View could be estimated roughly by using stack overflow’s salary calculator. Mountain View, react, typescript, aws, postgres, linux, 20 years experience, no degree lists $187,000 for the 50th percentile.
I think the discussion gets confusing because as an industry we suck at describing levels of the technical track in a portable way.
I do know senior engineers making 150k in the Bay Area. I also know some making 750k.
But in the context of this conversation, IE people who use triple byte, we are likely talking about engineers with a couple years experience. (Yes, a couple years experience gets you the title of "senior" these days).
And within this context of engineers with a couple years experience who are using triple byte, I'd say that 150k is pretty alright.
You can see this data from the graphs that they posted, about how this is referring to people with a couple years exp.
I'm a high school drop out with no diploma. It's never come up during any hiring process in the 17 years I've been doing this.
That said, I've only had two long term jobs. I spent years doing contract work, and I mostly got contracts by word of mouth.
I've been on a number of hiring teams, mostly at Puppet. I was also a hiring manager at Puppet for a while. Education never came up once — I don't remember even talking about it in interview training.
My last two jobs the recruiters asked me if I had a degree - this came up AFTER they had decided to interview me and when they were entering me in to the system - the degree was just a field to fill in.
I can't say what impact having a degree has had on my salary, and I can't say how hard it would be to get those first couple of years of work experience without a degree (it didn't matter for my first job, but that was 19 years ago), but in terms of applying for jobs once you have experience, I've not seen it matter outside of a few jobs that inexplicably require "a" degree (of any kind).
Several of my friends in the field don't have a college degree, and they appear to be functioning well, but they are also painfully aware of the lack, which tells me it's a source of some stress, be that actual or just hypothetical.
Oxford M.Sc. Computer Science
London School of Tropical Medicine, Clinical Trials
Queen Mary University of London, MBA
It took her a while to find the program. Most wanted an BA/BS first.
MS is the exception to that rule.
I work in New Jersey, as an Enterprise App Full-stack dev with 0 college experience.
I started as a developer 4 years ago @15/hr, and I recently breached the 6 figure mark. I've told my coworkers that I have a fire lit by a sense of inadequacy. I've always been behind classically trained developers, that is what keeps me pushing forward. Always playing 'catch-up'.
Now that I'm involved in my company's interview process, a few thoughts on what having a college degree does for our offers;
1. Because we hire through an agency, we already have a single layer of vetting that helps remove unqualified persons (both college-level and not), which ensure we have a decent, homogeneous pool to conduct face to face interviews with.
2. Whether we hire a candidate with or without a college background, our the offer range isn't enormous. If we have an offer in mind, (say 75k), having a college degree doesn't automatically grant you the high end of our scale. I can't think of a single instance where we cared about their degree once they were in the Face-to-face. Their performance in the interview dictates their offer, and we aren't asking questions like 'How do you implement bubble sort'. We ask some hard skill questions, sure, but we also ask just as many communication and general problem solving ones as well.
3. The range of starting pay is really small for us (think 75k mid, 70k min, 80k max). So that 3% gap makes a lot of sense.
To summarize, a degree may put you in a position to interview, but the range you get paid is largely depending on a wide array of skills, some of which are unrelated to development. Missing some of the hard-skills won't disqualify you for a position as much as missing the communication skills will (for us).
Total Comp figures are important, and differences in effective take home pay will be hidden if you only list salaries.
and yes, it is underwhelming that we still don't know "how much software engineers actually make"
Thanks for letting me know the data is present. :)
The only thing I feel like I missed out on compared to a CS grad is a better intuition for big O. I just don't have any use for it in real life, so it never really clicked. Good benchmarking tools are all I've ever needed. But it would be nice for my own intellectual gratification.
I have found the biggest discriminator on hiring salary and hiring generally is due to approach to problem. If you are limited to a single convention, such as OOP, or are limited to certain tools/frameworks businesses are less eager to hire you. In theory that makes sense in that you are more valuable if you can provide an original direct solution to a problem with greater ease. In practice it doesn’t make sense because those limitations tat prove to be a negative bias during hiring tend to be the reality internally.
Care to share the city? Or region?
I've also seen people graduate who couldn't do anything, so a CS degree is not proof that someone can do the job, and not having it is not proof that someone can't. I think university education is still extremely valuable, and I'm glad I've had it, but more for what I learned than for the piece of paper.
That said, salaries in Amsterdam, with or without degree, are far lower than the $130k to $150k described here.
I wouldn't expect Triplebyte to be able to observe this, because it only works with candidates who are US citizens, permanent residents, residents of Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Chile, Australia, or, have an existing H-1B visa (per the Candidate FAQ: https://triplebyte.com/candidate_faq).
Are these base salaries or total compensation?
Can you share what the distribution of companies you source to is? Ie are they mostly early stage startups or do they include many large post ipo tech companies?
Triplebyte works with over 400 companies, including Apple, Dropbox, Instacart, and numerous early stage companies (including many YC companies). The Open Positions section on the salary tool page should give a pretty good feel for the kinds of specific roles and companies that work with us
Since total compensation tends to vary more significantly than base salary, I would continue showing the salary-only graph by default, with an option to toggle total compensation as a second series.
It's definitely not unheard of for bonuses of top engineers to reach multiples of their base salary. I'm not aware of compensation being that lopsided where I work, but it purportedly happens at places like Two Sigma.
I think I may have found a tiny bug: the “all Triplebyte” dropdown seems to always reset the previous dropdown to “all company sizes” and visa versa so it’s impossible to have both selected to something other than the first options. Perhaps this is because data doesn’t exist for both? Maybe it’s just a slightly confusing UX.
It’s such a thoughtfully considered tool that I thought you’d appreciate my considered feedback.
Why are you mistakenly confusing education for education signalling?
There are many types of skills required to be an effective software engineer. Most of them have nothing to do with mastery of a programming language or technical tool, and have zero connection to solving coding puzzles in a short timeframe or memorizing answers to classic systems design questions.
You need to be a skilled writer and researcher to deduce business use cases and write effective summaries, presentations or user documentation.
You need appreciation for potentially many other knowledge domains, from legal topics & security to applied sciences. Having basic coursework in calculus, chemistry, physics, rhetoric, history & civics, etc., are crucially important in business settings.
It seems so tone deaf to me to baldly state that education signalling is a factor here, as if signalling was the phenomenon (it’s not).
Education (as opposed to education signalling) is a very valuable thing, and certainly fosters more effective engineers by a landslide.
The popularity of hiring from bootcamps or non-traditional engineering backgrounds is a commoditization issue, meant to suppress wages from growing as labor productivity creates dramatically greater returns.
There’s no shortage of engineers... there’s a shortage of “cheap” engineers (and yes, $130k is a cheap price for these types of hires).
My open source/side project experience has opened doors though I'm sure.
If you take their numbers that works out to $350-$400k.
A director at Google wouldn't be making much more than $200k in base salary, but their total comp can easily exceed $1M if you count stocks.
Yes. Most boot camps are outright scams and I know that I (along with everyone I know) has never hired a bootcamp grad. They usually cannot write fizzbuzz.
Some anecdata on the college grad note: most of the best engineers I've worked with did not study CS in college, though they all did graduate from college.
I'm a little suspicious because the median and mean are equal for several of the larger subsets (years of experience). I clicked several combinations to filter by and the difference between the median and mean was always low-mid single digits.
Would you mind reviewing https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and taking the spirit of this site more to heart? It would be great if you'd contribute just out of curiosity and avoid poisoning the well. Maybe you don't owe better to companies that annoy you, but you owe better to the community here.
My current base salary is exactly the same as it was at my last startup, but my income has more than doubled.
Without insight into total compensation, these numbers are only minimally useful.
-e- not to mention, it's the portion that varies the most with experience and internal performance.
I worry that some really skilled developers may be looking at these stats and not realize what they are giving up by accepting a job with the average salaries reported here.
If you're at a FAANG and get those massive stock packages, then you can really start getting close to the $300k+ total comp packages that people talk about.
The hard part is that there are only like 4-5 trading firms that have a reputation for great technology, and their size combined is like 1% of FAANG size, so there just aren't that many openings.
I spent 9 years at a hedge fund in Chicago. I started a year out of college. That job, the reputation and that I lasted nearly a decade, and left of my own accord have opened numerous doors for me, and I only got the job because of networking (my best friend from college worked there and vouched for me, and he was there because a college friend of his sister worked there and vouched for him). Now that I'm "in", I can call up a handful of recruiters that specialize in finance to setup interviews inside of a week or so any time I want. Usually beginning of the year is the best time to interview (after theyve fired tje worst performers from the previous year). Recently, I was looking for a job after being let go in January. I had my first phone screen 3 business days after I lost my job. Accepted an offer after about 4 weeks without work. Actually accepted the lower base/higher bonus potential that also had better work/life balance and easier commute.
But, like I said: networking and recruiters. The hedge fund world is a very incestuous industry. Once you get in, lots of opportunities to move around as you meet people, they leave for new shops, etc. Education also doesnt much matter except to open the first door. I.e. a degree from MIT, CMU, Harvard or Stanford will open more doors without a network connection. I got in with dual BS degrees in engineering from a well respected, but not top tier tech school, with a referral from an employee. While there worked with some very talented people, few of which had degrees in CS. Worked with physicists, philosophers, mathematicians and English majors - all in a software development capacity. I'm sure there were other disciplines, but they escape me.
Any tips on firms that even have those kinds of positions, I can always cold call a few to get a feeling for what they might be looking for.
My theoretical physics degree is from the best university in Sweden, but that probably doesn’t go very far in the US...
I remember reading a Google earnings report that said they had 90k employees in total. Assuming Amazon/Microsoft to be larger and assuming Netflix to be smaller, we can take Google to be the average. Of that, even if 50% was engineering, we'd only have 250k FAANG engineers worldwide. In the US, I'd guesstimate ~100k.
It's riskier than cash but definitely real compensation and not the monopoly money that options end up becoming.
Of course, you'd be better off going to FANG or a (soon-to-IPO) unicorn where you'd make double these amounts with RSUs factored in. But if you can get in there, you probably don't need to go through TripleByte.
Then again, TripleByte also created https://www.levels.fyi/comp.html so maybe I am just being cynical.
$250K is FANG compensation for an engineer with a few years of experience. According to NerdWallet cost of living calculator, equivalents are:
Los Angeles: $191K
Des Moines: $117K
But a senior-level position in FANG should be closer to $350K and above. I think that becomes much harder to match as a commodity developer outside the Bay Area (it'd be $205K in Philly, for instance). And even if you did match it, and you're able to sock away X% of your income a year in both cities, the FANG salary leaves you with many more dollars in your bank account in a few years. You could always leave the Bay Area at some point, and spend those dollars in a low CoL area.
I'm not saying it's worth it. The Bay Area has a lot of downsides. San Francisco has become a crime-ridden cess pool in recent years. Commutes are horrendous if you don't live near work. And many tech companies in the Bay Area pay much less than FANG compensation (and I know from experience), which really makes it hard to stomach. But from a purely financial standpoint, it seems like the FANG developers are doing pretty well.
It’s in a top rated school district, 30 minutes away from where I work and we paid $335K for it back in 2016. Now, it would probably be around $385K. How much would a similar setup cost in San Francisco?
We bought it with the 5% down that the builder required to start, but we ended up even getting some of that back when we used an FHA loan that required only 3.5% down.
Worked with lots of recruiters, personal network etc., felt like I really got a sense of what the salary landscape is here. Some facts:
- I was leaving a job at a hot unicorn startup that paid $125K base and I was told I was one of the highest paid engineers on staff (20+ engineers)
- I received 2 offers during this job search (was very selective else could have gotten many, many more)
- First offer: IOS developer at very large consulting firm for $120K base (with possibility of small bonus).
- Second offer: IOS developer position that was comparable in interest to first. Decided to "shoot for the moon" and ask for $145K. They agreed, and that's where I'm (happily) working now.
According to this study, SW engineers with my level of experience in these cities are making $181K on average! From what I could see that's just not available here to the rank and file, "average" experienced sw engineer. That salary would be more like top-of-range here.
Am I doing something wrong? Is Boston really that different than Seattle/NYC/SF?
For example, company A offered 100k, B offered 120k, and C offered 130k. You want company A. You say to company B that company C offered 130k and you're interested but not sure with that diff. They up to 135. You say to company C, hey, company B offered 135, can you help me lower the diff? They up to 140. Then you go to company A, say you'd love to, but you have offers for 135 and 140, so if they could do anything to lower the diff, great. They offer 130. At this point, you have three offers, all higher than you began with and can make a choice.
You can reasonably fit in 5-6 interviews into a week.
And if you want to count my pre-teen years coding BASIC games, total experience jumps significantly!
That seems mostly to be a supply/demand thing (which is tangled up with local culture norms, too, in complicated ways). There is much, much less VC funding in Boston than in SF and NYC. But a great supply of engineers because of the universities. And there's no equivalent to Microsoft+Amazon (Seattle) and Wall Street (NYC) pushing up both demand and top-end base salaries for experienced engineers.
Also, you mention that your search was 18 months ago. In SF (and I think Seattle and NYC, too) the job market is crazily engineer-favorable right now. I'd bet there's been 10% inflation in average base senior engineer salaries in SF in the last 18 months. That would match your $145k against ~$165k (rather than $181k).
As for funding: https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/04/boston-area-startups-are-o...
I don't think Boston is as much as a slouch as you think, in fact it's is pretty well positioned for the long term in regards to overall industry diversity and pretty respectable funding (though not as dominated by software like SF might be)
Salaries are probably lower because overall COL has traditionally been lower here (though housing sure isn't far behind anymore). Most people I know working for the big companies are getting ~$250k total comp (8-10 years exp). Other large, if more under the radar, companies are not too far behind.
But having raised VC money for three companies, Boston definitely feels like it doesn't have the same VC culture as SF and NYC. In some ways, this is a really good thing!
A lot of Boston investment money is much more conservative about valuations and business models. There's more late stage money than early stage money. There has historically been a lot more life sciences money than "software" money (on the professional investment side). My memory is that the last numbers I saw (2017) put Boston overall tech venture funding at something like 1/8th of the Bay Area's totals.
You're not doing anything wrong. I just don't think Boston pays these kind of salaries (yet). We've got a burgeoning tech scene here but compensation isn't at the same level. When I was looking to relocate back to Denver a few years ago, Boston salaries were much higher than what I was seeing out there.
You could absolutely command much more than that. I've got 20 yoe, was VP level at a smallish startup in Cambridge (35 employees, about 20 of which reported to me) that was acquired. When it was time to move on, nearly any conversation with recruiters started with "total comp" expectations. I had that discussion with about 10 recruiters, and only 1 outright said no thanks when I threw out an expected total compensation of $350k.
For public companies that meant base, bonus, and RSU. For private companies that meant base, bonus, and paper money.
I eventually interviewed with two companies (1 private, 1 public) and received offers from both. Both offered compensation far, far greater than $180k.
On the west coast you'll usually get paid a significantly higher salary in Seattle/SF than most of the other cities with any tech presence (e.g. Portland, LA, San Diego, etc).
Salaries are tied to cost of labor/employment, which varies by city. It is generally correlated with cost of living, though (otherwise people move away), so it balances slowly minus network effect adjustments.
FWIW, I thought the SF numbers in that article were low for mainstream companies, but high for startups.
Personally out of school I got 85, but got bumped to 110 after 1 year and 120 after 2.
Maybe they’re including 495/NH jobs bringing it down? There definitely is a difference between jobs in Boston/Cambridge, those on 128, and those in the outer burbs.
1) SF/NY/Seattle salaries are skewed by really rich companies
2) Yes, there a big uptick as it's more competitive, FYI cost of living is much more.
3) The salary I think has a selection/sample problem that probably over estimates.
My bet is $150K for an experienced dev at a normal company in Boston is probably somewhere in the league of normal.
Consider that salaries are not as an efficient a market as we might imagine. If Boston area companies can get away with paying $140 instead of $180 they will! Most people don't move across the country for a pay raise. Worker mobility in the US is down over the last 30 year (weirdly).
SF has a lot of people moving there which creates a different kind of frothy market.
Boston is established and so everything gets established, including salaries.
Consider the situation: imagine if you had a company making ok profit, with 50 Engineers in Beantown. Do you think you could all of a sudden get your Eng. to the 'next level' by paying SF rates?
So you're staffing costs are way up, but is productivity? Surely, you might be able to bring on the best hires, but will that make all the difference?
It's such a big bet, and the inclination is always to make (or save) money 'now'.
It's a little bit like the 'open vs. closed office' calculation. The CFO can make a direct and measurable compelling case for open office: it's 20% cheaper. Those in favour of a nicer office can't provide the hard numbers on how much the company would increase productivity.
I think salary differentials are a crazy interesting subject and suspect there are a lot of weird and interesting things going on.
I'm from Canada, where any good developer can double their salary by moving to a choice job in the US. Why the hell would young talent stay? Which implies, how the hell can Canadian companies even remotely compete on building great companies of the top tier talent leaves?
Obviously this depends a lot on a companies specific need for hyper-top tier talent, those that don't would maybe be better off out of the Valley.
I also wonder a lot on what would happen if a well funded Canadian startup actually started paying super great salaries. Sure, they'd be able to get the best talent that comes through the door ... but then there's the other paradox: most Canadian cities are not destinations! Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver are regular cities, if you start a company there, most of your applicants will be local. It stands that local talent may not be all that spectacular (good but not great) thereby not justifying really big salaries. And can you really have 'regular salary' for the 'regular, local talent' and then inflated salaries for the international hot talent? That might be hard!
So SF, NY and Seattle have the advantage of being destinations, i.e. cities where people are willing to move, meaning that their quest for talent is really a not a function of the locals, but the top tier of a much broader pool of talent.
Certainly for some people SF or Seattle have a lot more to offer than just career opportunities and not everyone is going to like the Vancouver lifestyle but in my experience the primary draw of SF is money and career not desire to live in the cities for other reasons. I think the story might be a little different for NY where lifestyle might be as big a draw for many people as career opportunities.
They are mythologized in news, song, film and TV.
Try to recruit someone to Toledo, Ohio vs. SF with the same cost-of-living-adjusted-pay and there's no comparison.
California is a place where people 'want' to move. NYC has been branded as the 'centre of action' for almost a century now. Just the other day I was reading about how artists feel they need to be located there for brand purposes.
The only people who 'aspire' to move to a regular city are those in smaller towns in the immediate vicinity, i.e. in rural Ontario, Toronto is an 'aspiration' it's 'the big city'. (Also, Toronto is an aspiration for a lot of migrants worldwide but that's a different story).
SF and NYC have access to a global talent pool.
Toronto has access mostly just Ontario.
FYI I worked at a 'big name company' in Waterloo Ontario and it was really hard to bring people in, especially Americans for whom Canada it seemed may have as well been the arctic. Those few we did bring up, often kept their 'primary residence' in the US, or otherwise felt they were doing a 'tour of duty' and would otherwise want to go home.
Despite the fact that a polygot dev. with tons of experience is always good to have around, and you need some weighing in on big decisions ... most dev is just dev - and a competent mid-tier developer with good habits can do the job in most cases.
That said, I really wonder about management - a talented senior dev who can write clean code, is polygot and knows their way around everything, gives good estimates, communicates well ...
I think that might worth more than anything really.
Often tech is more like a sports team where individual contributors matter more than those making other decisions, i.e. coaches.
(That said, there could be a serious market inefficiency here: a spectacular coach may be worth more than great players, it's just really difficult to measure!)
People going into software should plan accordingly. You get great wages to start, but you need to save some of those for a potentially risky mid-career transition where you specialize in a particular subfield.
Well this would be the root of the problem right here, not "experience doesn't matter after 10 years." That's nonsense. Experienced people with in-depth, cross-functional knowledge obtained from several, 5-8yr "sub careers" in various specialties can be worth their weight in gold.
There's a lot of managerial things you continue to learn, but that requires you to be in a position with enough political capital to actually stop history from repeating itself. It's only useful knowing that Project X will fail, if you can convince people to instead do the more successful X++. I'd expect job title to be a much better indicator here: having 20 years of experience doesn't mean you have the aptitude or inclination to succeed at office politics.
To be a bit longer-winded:
If you want to get paid more, you have to demonstrate value. Even if you only ever write the same CRUD apps, you'll definitely improve for the first few years, and it makes sense to pay more for a developer who isn't still busy making their first mistakes.
Past a certain point, though, raw experience isn't automatically a value add. If you're still just writing the same CRUD apps, you cap out a certain point. Now you need to demonstrate that you can contribute to architectural discussions, get involved in system design, or help with project selection/management. If you think you deserve the big bucks for that level of highly experienced work, that's totally fair, but you need some way to demonstrate it - whether this be tiles held, references, or having literally written the book on the topic. You can't just lean on "years of experience" anymore, because it's no longer well-correlated to value-added.
I think Triplebyte is stuck between a few incentives that aren't necessarily aligned with developers, and I'm not sure how to decide how I feel about their contributions overall to the job market for software.
I absolutely love their outreach and data like this where they try to empower developers more.
My problem I have is that they entered the market using the same exact worn-out old methods that everyone has been trying to use to hire for software forever. They do a timed coding challenge, they ask we-need-to-hear-the-right-answer quiz questions about both algorithms, and topic-specific areas for web/mobile/back end.
All they've done is dress everything up in fancy clothes and used an interface UX tuned towards developer's sensibilities. They absolutely bombard all major programming related internet sites/communities with their stupid click-bait "only 2% of green-skinned back end browser developers living at least 100ft above sea level get this question right!!!!111!1!1one1!" ads. Their initial, multiple-choice "gotcha!" quiz should be passed by a second year CS (or any eng.) student with a tiny amount of thought, but it makes developers feel like they've already just "beat" someone else out and "accomplished" something and it plays a psychological game with them to get them to commit to the extended live interview. (It worked on me!)
Do they have data about how their candidates perform after hire? 2 yr performance reviews? 2 yr turnover rates? How do they market to the recruiters who are their true "customers"?
To me their product seems like something that hiring managers and in-house recruiters can use to remove liability for bad hires. Has anyone ever worked with them through recruiting to see if the value proposition is there for eliminating bad phone screens? I don't think initial phone screens are terribly difficult to do for a senior engineer with experience, to root out red flags. Is it a better value prop on your expensive on-site interview slots to trust Triplebyte? Or your own internal senior engineers/hiring managers?
I'm not saying that Triplebyte has direclty nefarious intentions or anything like that. I just am no sure I see how their incentives are aligned with me as a developer, in quite the same way they market as ("We are god's gift to developers").
Software engineering hiring, and Triplebyte as a company, at least think about, and make an attempt to evaluate these concerns. Have you ever seen how non-technical people (sales/marketing/finance) are evaluated? I'd argue Triplebyte at least moves the needle a bit versus in other fields.
Honestly, I'm not sure why I expected a classic bell curve instead of a long right tail.
Edit: playing with the data, looking at some of the sub-distributions, (e.g. front-end engineers with 3-5 years experience at all company sizes) do look a bit closer to normal distributions, but in many, there's still that long tail to the right.
Now, what to do with this information? Perhaps I can play it to my advantage when attempting to negotiate a raise or a salary with a new company.
I was pretty firm on insisting on a bigger raise based on that data, after which my boss's boss came in with the big guns. They had a spreadsheet of compensation data collected by investors in the startup, and this data was collated across all their (and other) portfolio companies.
It was broken down by total funding, company size, years of experience, role, all that. IIRC, it was Option Impact: https://www.advanced-hr.com/. I wish I could've looked at it more, such interesting information with specific numbers. Of course, that will never be made public, much to the detriment of the workers in tech.
They don't criminally underpay or anything, but they are on the low side of average and I've been insisting that they are 20-30% under market on just base salary alone for high caliber people. No RSUs and there's some cash bonuses (maybe up to ~10%) and other near-cash perks but nothing super significant.
Well, jokes on them, I just accepted a new non-FAANG gig for a nearly-25% base salary increase, plus a significant initial RSU grant of ~1.5x salary, plus other bonus potential. And I'm more excited about the company and work anyway.
It's bananas out there right now, go get it while you can.
But I wonder if there are recent studies on the demographics of who attends elite universities in general? I'd assume it is mostly kids from the upper middle class to upper class backgrounds.
These sort of places pat themselves on the back for saying they do target minorities and the less privileged, but they have such an insurmountable background to overcome they may never make it to such schools, despite being smart enough to attend.
You may miss people like: https://www.uidaho.edu/engr/news/features/tom-mueller
While I wont deny the foundational knowledge that CS degrees can offer, it doesn't seem to make much a difference in earning potential.
The biggest difference between CS degree holders and bootcampers / no degree holders is the amount of time + effort required to land that first job. It seems that once you land that first job, there is not a huge difference in earnings between traditional and non-traditional engineers.
Will be interesting to see how it plays out over time. I'm curious what the average earnings will be between bootcampers vs 'others' in 15-20 years.
For exmaple, Amazon has a cap on base (I think it's 160k) and provides huge amounts of stock beyond that. I'd imagine it's a similar story for many companies.
Total comp is a far more realistic and accurate measurement.
These base estimates are much higher than what sites like Levels.fyi and anecdotal numbers I've collected from my new grad peers.
At the new grad level, Base salary numbers are $125-135k:Google, $105-115k:MSFT,Amazon,FB.
The base salary numbers at other unicorns don't sound much different either.
I am not saying that TB's numbers are wrong. But, there has to be some reason for the huge difference in the numbers I've heard vs the ones TB reports.
Are you going to refuse a job offer because it pays less than some arbitrary bar, even if it's the best offer you have?
So you see 95% of those salaries are just MS/AMZ
You really think that, with all that, Amazon and Microsoft make up 95% of high salaried jobs in Seattle?
Now, that’s for startups. Banks will pay twice that.
I’m wondering what the medians look like - the means being displayed may be distorted by the finance and Google outliers.
Edited to add: $60k is a middle class salary for a single person in NYC. (Though people who are unaccustomed to small apartment living / the idea of singles having roommates / the idea that middle class means having to compromise on some expenses will complain otherwise.) I wouldn’t want to try to raise a family of 4 here on that income, though.
$130k is definitely upper middle class for a single person, but a family of 4 on that income is going to have to live way outside the hip areas of the outer boroughs in order to be able to afford housing.
The salaries just aren’t that impressive for the cities in question. I can make that in much lower cost of living areas of the country.