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Where are you based if I may ask? Just to put your salary in context, because 160K is not the same everywhere!

Also, I'm not trying to brag by posting my salary. I just think it's really important for devs (young devs, especially) to know these data points.

I took the first interesting offer that I got, when I graduated from college. It was $43k. (You have to start somewhere!)

But, as you get more experienced you must also learn to understand the value that you provide to the companies that you work for. Too many developers get taken advantage of. Software currently rules the world; remember that. Companies make trillions of dollars (in real revenue or efficiency) on the things you create. You deserve a good pay, if your products are valuable.

$43k? My first offer was $28k, though, to be fair, I didn't have a programming-related degree.

I'd also like to underscore the comment in your parent post--"good enough for me." It's not always about pay. I'm seeking a sort of "medium chill" [0] existence. I currently make more money that I ever thought I would, but I also have a position with a relatively stable company where I can continue to do interesting work without unnecessarily ramping up my responsibilities with each pay increase. If you offered me a job with a 25-50% pay increase with a similar increase in work time and/or stress, I'd politely decline.

[0] http://grist.org/living/2011-06-28-the-medium-chill/

Exactly. I like 'medium chill'! I generally try to work a 40 hour week. Sometimes I have to put in some extra hours, but I like to be observant about why I'm putting in those extra hours, try to fix the root problem, and get it back to 40.

A college professor that I had (a mentor), once told me that the best programmers should be somewhat lazy. I'm definitely not a 'best programmer', but I do try to automate as much as possible and be on the look out for 'gordian knots' to cut.

I was offered a VB6 job in DC for $24K and 5 days vacation for my first - I turned that one down.

Washington, DC metro area.

Do you think that the significant presence of Federal work has a lot of pressure on salaries in DC and surroundings?

The federal gov't injecting a few billion dollars into an economy can't hurt. So, yeah, I'm sure it helps stimulate the growth here.

But, I rarely find many, if any, gov't contractors at the HN meetups in DC.

There are actually a lot of startups here, and lots of VC money, in general. A lot of people come here to live, and work from home, here. Housing prices and costs of living are high, but not as high as some other locations (SF, NY, etc.).

So, definitely other factors, too.

I'm living in the DC area and I'm curious how you would go about finding non-government-related places to work. The place I'm working now isn't government-related, but I found it mostly by chance, and most of the places I saw during my job search were government contractors, so I'm not sure where I would look if I wanted to change jobs.

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