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Salaries are a strange combination of supply and demand and superstition and belief. First, fundamentally, it is difficult to evaluate the contribution of either a manager or a programmer. So people fall back to the notion that, well there are fewer of the former and they're higher on the org chart so they should get paid more.

Second, programming skills are seen as a commodity, while business analysis skills are seen as a rarity. This is mostly self-reinforcing perception. At the hiring stage, because people see programming as a commodity they're willing to recruit widely, while because they see business analysis as a rarity they place disproportionate emphasis on pedigree (hiring ex consultants at McKinsey, etc) which limits supply. Given the Bell Labs study, pedigree is probably vastly overrated, but business types place insane value on it. I'm in the legal field and see big firms perfectly happy to hire someone from the middle of the class at a top 10 school over someone in the top decile of a top 50 school. The difference in standardized entrance exam scores between the two is often quite small, and law firm work takes more work ethic than it does brilliance, but firms hire the folks with the pedigree because it's easier to sell that to a business type.

Third, without using too broad of a brush, I think business analysis, etc, on average, attracts a more aggressive crowd. Programmers tend to be more mellow in my experience, and that affects people's perception of whether you've got "killer instinct" and whatnot. My law school's parent university has a business school, and frankly those folks are a little strange. They Facebook-friend people indiscriminately, always seem like they're trying to sell you something, and are really dedicated to physical fitness and grooming. Given that a large component of compensation is perception, it's easy to see why these folks would have a leg up.




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