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Ask HN: Will software engineer salaries go up, down or stay the same?
16 points by ngngngng 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments
Recent shakeups at large companies going remote first and the ensuing discussions have me thinking about this. I've mostly heard that "we are paid too much" in my career and this is in a lower cost of living area where we aren't paid anywhere close to silicon valley salaries.

Are my skills going to be more or less valuable ten years from now?






Within 10 years, all kids will learn basic computational thought in school, and some will continue down that path to apply that knowledge to specific use cases. Coding in and of itself won't be so special, which will drive down the salaries for entry-level pay. However, being good at it is different than just having the ability to do entry-level work, and the best engineers still can deliver extremely high value to a company.

I personally believe that the salary ranges will follow a shallower bell curve, with lower starting pay, a lower median, and a much smaller group at the top making huge bank.

As to where any specific individual falls on that curve... that will depend entirely on your talent.


Basic understanding of information technologies, scripting, coding, data tools, and maybe things like jupyter notebooks will be kind of like being good at excel, word, and photoshop are today. Processing data through distributed parallel services and/or building custom FPGA or GPU services won't be common knowledge to the graduating class of 2030.

I suspect that it'll be the same... but different. There's always an edge to be found and good applied logic practitioners then, like now, will be paid well for their time.


They were saying this ten years ago...

But we didn't have school districts actually incorporating it into their curriculum and standards 10 years ago. 5 years ago is when the efforts really got rolling, and I remember talking to many district leaders who were excited to see change coming to education... the first new core subject area in decades. More school districts are bringing the programs online every year.

It isn't just talk anymore.


Probably a better question is "Will the demand for software developers outpace the supply over the next 10 years?" Perhaps the looming failures of universities I keep reading about will mean less degreed professionals. I think the demand will increase as more industries become automated, but the supply is the big question.

I will say it will go up. Software Engineering will end up meaning different things. For example, couple of years ago web dev was all the rage but these days web dev has a certain band of salaries with great people being paid a lot and others just scraping by. I believe software creates a lot of value when applied properly and I don't see this going down anytime sooner. Whether the field itself become easier is a different thing. Maybe people who work at a skill level where a bootcamp is okay to start a job will face a pay cut simply because barrier to entry is low but that will just be one end of a spectrum.

This is probably the harsh truth. The lower tier is having an influx, and real wages will reflect that. While some aspects of the work can seem arcane or even complex, the results are not out-sized, so business will optimize costs there continually.

It depends on supply and demand for skills. If you have average skills that a hundred thousand other people have, then your skills are less valuable. If you have expert skills in a high demand area, then up. So building websites and most apps is flooded with people. Autonomous cars, some AI/ML security, VR / AR, vision, even COBOL, have fewer people, high demand. Just become very valuable to your potential employer. (Think about debugging autonomous cars, what would you make if you were great at that!)

There are online courses, some free, for those topics. There are open source projects on many of those topics.


It depends on the standard software users have. Salaries went up because the standard for software went up in a few places - user experience, scale.

If we’re fine with the same shitty technology 10 years from now, then salaries will stagnate.

But what do I know, game developers continually make amazing stuff and somehow that industry found a way to squeeze them. Tough to say how it all will play out.


The "we are being paid too much" sentiment is mostly a US thing. In Europe the salaries are nowhere nearly as high.

You cannot compare EU and US salaries easily.

The protection of employees, heath care system, pension, holidays, the social safety net and cost of living, to name of few are too different.

In general you need to multiply your EU salary x2 to get a comparable US salary.


> pension

In many European countries (e.g. UK), the pension contributions are a form of income tax (i.e. proportional to income), while the pension is a fixed sum that barely allows you to survive - regardless of how much you've paid in contributions. I don't know how SS works in the US, but it's hard to imagine a worse system.

> cost of living

I've compared two random third-tier cities in US and Western Europe:

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/El-Paso

https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/in/Bordeaux

The costs of living are actually really close within each other.


And it's similar for big cities - local purchasing power in London is lower than New York, San Francisco and LA.

It depends on your skills. Focus on more than just hard engineering skills. If you position yourself as an effective remote engineer who deliver value consistently, then you can command value.

The only risk in my opinion is AI and the possible automation of development. The curve to being an efective software engineer is too steep.

They will hopefully go down



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