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MasterOctopus

How much do Software Engineers make (entry level)?

25 posts in this topic

Depends heavily on where you live. I made $40k when I first started working. Friends of mine made $55k, but they also lived in a more expensive city. Another friend of mine living in California made $80k. You should check with developers in your area.
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I'm making a little under €30k on my first "real" job, which lines up with the previous figures (ballpark $45k, US or AU). Berlin is crazy cheap for the awesome, no-car-required city that it is, so that's quite nice.
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My first job (as a physics programmer at a games company) straight out of university was on £16k (~$30k at the time). That was not very high though... games pays less and I live in one of the lowest-paying areas of the UK.

There must be a website for this data... anyone know one?
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Just a couple of months ago I checked what the us.gov website had it listed as. It had it listed as the #2 job expecting growth, mostly in the software production field (it was right behind Investment Banker, which is likely not #1 anymore with the banking issues). They listed an average starting income somewhere around $45k (I can't quite remember exactly what it was).
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Software engineering doesn't seem, to me at least, to be terribly well paid.

I did an internship in Edinburgh in 2008 for 16 weeks and was getting paid about £1100 a month, whereas the full time boys floated somewhere around the £25-30k mark (even after being at the company for >5 years and being a "Senior" or "... Manager". There were two Development Managers who were probably on about £40k each.

This was at a reasonably sized company as well. Worrying stuff.
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I've started at about $50k per year as a developer working on webapps here in Phoenix metro, Arizona. However, I was on an hourly rate, so the actual gross annual income was closer to $60k with overtime (paid at 1.5x the normal hourly rate)
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Original post by ukdeveloper
Software engineering doesn't seem, to me at least, to be terribly well paid.

I did an internship in Edinburgh in 2008 for 16 weeks and was getting paid about £1100 a month, whereas the full time boys floated somewhere around the £25-30k mark (even after being at the company for >5 years and being a "Senior" or "... Manager". There were two Development Managers who were probably on about £40k each.

This was at a reasonably sized company as well. Worrying stuff.


I have no idea about the developer situation in the UK, but in the States the US government creates a yearly guide that creates a comparison between different professions. It gives the job outlook, which is calculated based on the amount of job growth in the field and the number of markets available, average starting salary, average experienced salary (>5 years), senior salary (>10 years). Salaries can be compared based on level of education as well, since it would not be appropriate to compare a graduate-level profession to an MD or PhD. Software Engineering, in the States, was #2 in job growth during the last report (which, due to the lag in response and compilation, was in 2007) and likely to be #1 in the next report. It was also #1 in graduate-level starting salaries, experienced salaries and I believe #2 or 3 in senior salaries (several other professions start to gain ground with over 10 years of experience). It also ranked fairly favorably to professions that require 10+ years of education, and rated higher than several MD professions.

Maybe the differences have to do with the field. In the US, there is more demand for educated and experienced software engineers than there is supply, which will obviously increase salaries. The balance between the two could very easily be different in other countries.
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Original post by jackolantern1
Maybe the differences have to do with the field. In the US, there is more demand for educated and experienced software engineers than there is supply, which will obviously increase salaries. The balance between the two could very easily be different in other countries.


I think you're right.

As I've said before, UK universities are pumping out too many mediocre Java coders and "software engineers" as opposed to people with a wide range of skills in the IT workplace. As such, if you don't take postgraduate study, you're going to be working as a professional software developer or you'll be working in Tesco.

A balance needs to be struck somewhere.
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Original post by ChurchSkiz
salary.com, enter your job and zip code, get the salary.


I would be kind of cautious with that site. When I was a manager in a telecomm business, one of my sales reps approached me with a big packet of info that he had apparently bought from salary.com. It included their statistics for what he was "supposed" to be making in our area, an article about how higher paid employees are better producing employees, etc. It said he should have been making about 70k + commissions (which was utterly ridiculous for the area we were in and his experience). He was making about half of that, and in reality, he was barely hanging on to his job as it was. Him handing in that packet was actually quite infuriating.

So be careful with that site. I don't know where they get their statistics from, but they were way off in this case. They are trying to make people feel like they should be getting more money so they buy the materials from them to show their bosses for a raise.

EDIT: This is the government's site with their salary census statistics. I would suggest to just stick with the info presented there.
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Original post by jackolantern1
I would be kind of cautious with that site. When I was a manager in a telecomm business, one of my sales reps approached me with a big packet of info that he had apparently bought from salary.com. It included their statistics for what he was "supposed" to be making in our area, an article about how higher paid employees are better producing employees, etc. It said he should have been making about 70k + commissions (which was utterly ridiculous for the area we were in and his experience). He was making about half of that, and in reality, he was barely hanging on to his job as it was. Him handing in that packet was actually quite infuriating.

Following up on this, your salary is whatever you negotiate.

Salary IS NOT based on what you know, or what you have done, or what you are capable of. Companies do not need to pay you what you are worth, or pay you based on how much value you provide, or any other factor of your perceived value.

Honorable companies will pay you approximately what they feel is right, but it is still your job to negotiate what the actual value is. Dishonorable companies will pay you whatever they can get away with, right or not, and so you must protect yourself against them --- or better, don't work there.

It is your responsibility as the employee to come up with an estimate of what you are worth to the company. There are many sources of information with wildly different accuracy. Salary.com is one, the annual Game Developer Magazine's salary survey is another. Government sources are generally available, but still not perfect.

Having those sources are useful for starting your negotiation. Simply presenting a packet and demanding that much in pay is inappropriate. It is also generally inappropriate for professional level employees to allow the employer to set your wage without negotiation. (Obviously other jobs such as manual labor, burger flipping, etc., this does not apply.)

Ultimately it comes down to the individuals. The employee brings their skill set and experience to the bargaining table. The employer brings their total compensation package to the bargaining table. They sit down and talk.

If you can negotiate a 290K salary with a golden parachute, then do so. If you can negotiate a 50K salary, then do so. If you can only negotiate a small hourly wage with no other benefits, then do so.
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Original post by frob
Quote:
Original post by jackolantern1
I would be kind of cautious with that site. When I was a manager in a telecomm business, one of my sales reps approached me with a big packet of info that he had apparently bought from salary.com. It included their statistics for what he was "supposed" to be making in our area, an article about how higher paid employees are better producing employees, etc. It said he should have been making about 70k + commissions (which was utterly ridiculous for the area we were in and his experience). He was making about half of that, and in reality, he was barely hanging on to his job as it was. Him handing in that packet was actually quite infuriating.

Following up on this, your salary is whatever you negotiate.

Salary IS NOT based on what you know, or what you have done, or what you are capable of. Companies do not need to pay you what you are worth, or pay you based on how much value you provide, or any other factor of your perceived value.

Honorable companies will pay you approximately what they feel is right, but it is still your job to negotiate what the actual value is. Dishonorable companies will pay you whatever they can get away with, right or not, and so you must protect yourself against them --- or better, don't work there.

It is your responsibility as the employee to come up with an estimate of what you are worth to the company. There are many sources of information with wildly different accuracy. Salary.com is one, the annual Game Developer Magazine's salary survey is another. Government sources are generally available, but still not perfect.

Having those sources are useful for starting your negotiation. Simply presenting a packet and demanding that much in pay is inappropriate. It is also generally inappropriate for professional level employees to allow the employer to set your wage without negotiation. (Obviously other jobs such as manual labor, burger flipping, etc., this does not apply.)

Ultimately it comes down to the individuals. The employee brings their skill set and experience to the bargaining table. The employer brings their total compensation package to the bargaining table. They sit down and talk.

If you can negotiate a 290K salary with a golden parachute, then do so. If you can negotiate a 50K salary, then do so. If you can only negotiate a small hourly wage with no other benefits, then do so.


I completely agree. The only thing I would like to say is that negotiation typically comes into play for either educated or experienced positions, though. For uneducated positions, entry-level positions, it is quite likely that your salary is already determined before you walk in the door (should you take the job). I don't think that should really count against an employer in those situations. As a decision making employer at my old company, if an entry-level call center rep asked for an extra $2, I would have to talk to a director or the CEO, and the first thing they would ask is "Why?". If I have nothing to say besides, "He asked me", they will look at me crazy.

So I completely agree for positions where you do have some leverage, and you will be adding a unique element to the company, but in lower and entry positions, you are probably tied to what they are offering.
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Original post by jackolantern1
Quote:
Original post by ChurchSkiz
salary.com, enter your job and zip code, get the salary.


I would be kind of cautious with that site. When I was a manager in a telecomm business, one of my sales reps approached me with a big packet of info that he had apparently bought from salary.com. It included their statistics for what he was "supposed" to be making in our area, an article about how higher paid employees are better producing employees, etc. It said he should have been making about 70k + commissions (which was utterly ridiculous for the area we were in and his experience). He was making about half of that, and in reality, he was barely hanging on to his job as it was. Him handing in that packet was actually quite infuriating.

So be careful with that site. I don't know where they get their statistics from, but they were way off in this case. They are trying to make people feel like they should be getting more money so they buy the materials from them to show their bosses for a raise.

EDIT: This is the government's site with their salary census statistics. I would suggest to just stick with the info presented there.


At least in my field (Logistics) it's been pretty accurate. However, you can't just type in your title and get a salary, you have to look at the responsibilities. Titles can be grossly misleading from company to company so you need to hone down other information like how many direct reports you have, who you report to, size of the company, decision making capability, financial responsibilities, experience, education, etc. A "sales rep" could have a huge spread, I'm sure the person that did this was overexaggerating what they did.

HR divisions use this site just as much as employees so I wouldn't dismiss them so quickly from one bad experience.
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I just want to echo the statement that you get what you are able to negotiate. When I first started (no college degree), I was making $75,000 in a cheap city, which is like $150,000 somewhere like the valley. Months later, I jumped ship to take a job at $125,000 in the same cheap city. It's about how you present yourself and your unique qualities to your employer. What do they get? Are you just a code monkey, or does your presence change the game for their business?

Marketing is about the story you tell to your customers, and the stories you help customers tell themselves. What story are you telling?
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Also keep in mind that 'software engineer' is a *very* widely interpreted definition. It can be used to refer to pretty much anyone: from the guy churning out UML diagraming for web-apps, all the way up to a systems architect responsible for designing and implementing critical OS services...
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Original post by Pete Michaud
I just want to echo the statement that you get what you are able to negotiate. When I first started (no college degree), I was making $75,000 in a cheap city, which is like $150,000 somewhere like the valley. Months later, I jumped ship to take a job at $125,000 in the same cheap city. It's about how you present yourself and your unique qualities to your employer. What do they get? Are you just a code monkey, or does your presence change the game for their business?

Marketing is about the story you tell to your customers, and the stories you help customers tell themselves. What story are you telling?


That's impressive for no degree! Have you no prior work history and a recent college drop out? How did you overcome all odds? You possess unique expert knowledge? Shortage of talent in the general area or within the company?
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I'm not sure what size and style organizations you've worked with, but I've never been at a place which tolerated negotiation. I've never even heard of it being done with anyone under director level. Any place large enough to have a dedicated HR department will have codified limits on the salaries of positions, and the rate of raises allowed. Any company big enough to have departments will have limits on the number of positions and the amount of budget available for wages. Even if the technical manager valued you enough to offer more, they're handcuffed by bureaucracy.

That doesn't stop you from shopping around of course, or using leverage to get the most that the company can offer within the constraints. I just think the power of negotiation is being overstated. It won't work miracles at your average company.
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Original post by Telastyn
I've never been at a place which tolerated negotiation. I've never even heard of it being done with anyone under director level. Any place large enough to have a dedicated HR department will have codified limits on the salaries of positions, and the rate of raises allowed. ...
It won't work miracles at your average company.

Odd. Every place I've been at, with the exception of unskilled manual labor before college, has allowed for some negotiation.

Although it is possible that you only worked at places that do not negotiate a salary, it is more likely that you have simply missed opportunities to make more money.



Books like "What Color Is Your Parachte" discuss the basics of salary negotiation. There are thousands of websites dedecated to salary negotiation.

Salary negotiation is *VERY* important. The company may be good, but it is in their own interests to pay you the least that will keep you happy there.

You are certainly correct that there are limits on salaries and other compensation rates. But you need to know that they are *NOT* going to offer you the maximum salary at your first offer.


I was only involved in the salary side of management at one company in the past. I know one person who took the very first offer and was giddy about it --- yet it was a fairly low offer. I know another person who was initially offered $50K and was able to negotiate $74K --- roughly 150% of what they were considering because of a demo they brought and their negotiation skills.

While we did take some efforts to keep salaries approximately balanced across the board, they were never fixed in stone.
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If someone else hasn't mentioned it, game developer magazine does a salary survey every year and reports on different departments (programming, art, production etc) and skill level as well as region.

It's very useful, i forget which month the last one came out in but maybe you can dig up some old game dev magazines.

i think it might have been the april issue?
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Original post by Atrix256
If someone else hasn't mentioned it, game developer magazine does a salary survey every year and reports on different departments (programming, art, production etc) and skill level as well as region.

It's very useful, i forget which month the last one came out in but maybe you can dig up some old game dev magazines.

i think it might have been the april issue?

There's a direct link above. (^_^)
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Original post by frob
Quote:
Original post by Telastyn
I've never been at a place which tolerated negotiation. I've never even heard of it being done with anyone under director level. Any place large enough to have a dedicated HR department will have codified limits on the salaries of positions, and the rate of raises allowed. ...
It won't work miracles at your average company.

Odd. Every place I've been at, with the exception of unskilled manual labor before college, has allowed for some negotiation.

Although it is possible that you only worked at places that do not negotiate a salary, it is more likely that you have simply missed opportunities to make more money.



Books like "What Color Is Your Parachte" discuss the basics of salary negotiation. There are thousands of websites dedecated to salary negotiation.

Salary negotiation is *VERY* important. The company may be good, but it is in their own interests to pay you the least that will keep you happy there.

You are certainly correct that there are limits on salaries and other compensation rates. But you need to know that they are *NOT* going to offer you the maximum salary at your first offer.


I was only involved in the salary side of management at one company in the past. I know one person who took the very first offer and was giddy about it --- yet it was a fairly low offer. I know another person who was initially offered $50K and was able to negotiate $74K --- roughly 150% of what they were considering because of a demo they brought and their negotiation skills.

While we did take some efforts to keep salaries approximately balanced across the board, they were never fixed in stone.

Yeah unless it's a government job with fixed wages or something just about every private sector job allows it but it's not like they advertise it so it's a skill worth learning about. Hell even a manual labor job I got at Home Depot years ago I shafted myself because I accepted the first offer they gave me and was pissed off later when I found out a coworker that got hired doing the same job was hired at a wage several dollars above mine and I asked him what he did to deserve that and he said he just asked!

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