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JonathanJ1990

How do I gauge How much i'm worth?

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JonathanJ1990    167
Hi Guys I am still a fairly young Developer having less than a year total worth of professional game development experience but i have worked on 4 mobile titles so far in the past year ( 3 actually published on the app store and one in development). My question is how do I as a Junior Programmer value my work going forward ? When I received my first Programming job last april in all honesty the Dollar amount was not what concerned me because I have heard countless times the hardest hurdle to jump for being a game developer is breaking into the industry . i was paid about $33,000 to work with a mobile game start up and they told me they would re-assess my salary 6 months onward( which never happened because the entire development team was laid off 7 months later) . During that time I learned an extraordinary amount and had plenty of awesome mentors to work under so when I was laid off I was actually really excited to put all i worked on into practice and excitedly i developed 5 really simple but playable game prototypes in the month after being laid off. Recently i took on am mobile position that pays roughly the same but may average to slightly more because instead of working on fixed salary I make hourly wages as a contractor .

Still to be honest i feel like i bit the bullet this time, whereas at my last job I was hired straight out of college , this team hired me for roughly the same price while being less experienced, demanding slightly more of my job requirements( which has been a great learning experience to be honest), and offering a much more disjointed game development team composed only of contractors. I can at least say I was encouraged by my former producer ( who has worked in the game industry for over a decade)to take on the new job just to have a job to work on before Christmas.

Anyhow after all that I guess my question is how do I best assess how much I should earn? i don't want to sound cocky or arrogant for turning down offers that are less than i desire but also now that I have a few titles under my belt I do feel like i bring a certain level of knowledge and experience to a project even if it is very minimal . Any and all suggestions are appreciated , thanks!

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Tom Sloper    16040
[quote name='JonathanJ1990' timestamp='1355695610' post='5011368']
Anyhow after all that I guess my question is how do I best assess how much I should earn?
[/quote]

You look at the annual game industry Salary Survey. You could just Google "game developer salary survey."

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JonathanJ1990    167
[quote name='TheChubu' timestamp='1355697759' post='5011385']
I have no idea about this but just for clarification, you were paid 33k for 7 months of work?
[/quote]

No TheChubu I was supposed to be making an annual salary of 33k so I guess in actuality I made somewhere in the neighborhood between 15k and 16k ( after Taxes) for those seven months of work.

To Tom I have been aware of the Game Developer survey for quite a while , I wasn't sure if that only took in AAA Development studios or studios across the spectrum. but I guess even that doesn't really matter. I guess another issue may be the fact I am working with Startups that are studios concerned and familiar with other industries and that have only just begun to look into game Development . Edited by JonathanJ1990

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Tom Sloper    16040
[quote name='JonathanJ1990' timestamp='1355723347' post='5011554']
Tom I have been aware of the Game Developer survey for quite a while , I wasn't sure if that only took in AAA Development studios or studios across the spectrum. but I guess even that doesn't really matter. I guess another issue may be the fact I am working with Startups that are studios concerned and familiar with other industries and that have only just begun to look into game Development .
[/quote]

Then apply whatever formula you think appropriate on the salary survey figures. Either figure 100% of what others of your experience level and specialty make, or some percentage that you believe makes sense based on your criteria. You clearly know the math you're looking for better than anyone else does.

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JonathanJ1990    167
That's a great point Tom I guess I am just still a little uncomfortable about talking about salary funny enough. I think due to my youth I feel uncomfortable because I know so many other people in my position who would love to do the same job for possibly even less than I earn . but ultimately it makes the mos sense to do as oyu said figure out what other people in my role earn and figure out what pay scale I am most comfortable with as a reference to that.

It's just confusing it definitely must be a studio dependent-issue but i remember one of the first developer interviews where i asked an individual for $20 an hour and he seem ed appalled at the mere suggestion of someone straight out of college getting that much . Anyhow I'm sorry and I appreciate the advice Tom I will definitely figure out a pay scale I like and have that be the basis of figuring out how I consider future programming positions.

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Orymus3    18821
I wouldn't take your first salary as a base reference. Case in point, that business is now defunct, and without additionnal info, its hard to guess "why", but one cause MAY be that it overpaid for the value generated by its employees.
Also, PERSONALLY, I don't believe in the "what I'm worth" attitude. Its the work you do that counts, and the value it has. If you're God, but you're paid to develop a small iPhone game, you shouldn't be paid the salary of a God, but an income that is based off the sales the company expects to make this year based on the products you are developing.
As a result, it is really YOUR duty to find a job that is on par with your expectation of what you're worth, but otherwise, you should always judge your income based on what you do and what is expected of you.

Being that you are a junior developer that develops mobile titles, I would compare myself specifically with these people, and factor in the productivity ratio (Code quality and efficiency compared to other similar devs)

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Tom Sloper    16040
[quote name='JonathanJ1990' timestamp='1355737051' post='5011604']
i remember one of the first developer interviews where i asked an individual for $20 an hour and he seem ed appalled at the mere suggestion of someone straight out of college getting that much .
[/quote]

So one guy's comment is the basis of this question.
$20/hour calculates to over $40,000. I agree that it might be a bit high for a first job straight out of college -- but it depends on the area, the company, the job, the hirer and what he can afford, the applicant and his portfolio.

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SimonForsman    7642
1) Read up on the company you're applying at, their financial data should be public information in most countries and are an important factor when you decide how much to ask for.
2) After you get hired, keep track of your contribution to the business, if you can show your boss that the company will benefit more by giving you a raise than by replacing you with someone willing to work for less you're far more likely to get that raise you wanted.

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coderx75    435
"Give a man a 10 million dollar salary and, in two weeks, he'll think he deserves it."

I don't remember where I heard this quote but I think it's a good reminder not to base your judgement on how much (OR little) you think you deserve. Consider what kind of work you want to be doing, what level of experience and proficiency you possess and what the average going rate is. Take that, add about $5,000 to $10,000 for some negotiating room and you have your answer.

Keep in mind that you WILL have a few interviewers actually laugh in your face. That's okay as you probably don't want to work for their company. If you want to be paid well for your services, you'll need to have a thick skin. If they are interested in you, they will want to negotiate but try to stand firm on your original rate (prior to the 5 to 10 G's you added). If it looks like a stellar opportunity, you may want to be more flexible. However, many positions are sold to the interviewee as a "stellar opportunity". Ask a lot of questions!

Remember, the more you're asking for, the more interviews you will have to go on to get hired. This is not a bad thing. You'll be getting plenty of practice in interviewing and, best of all, confidence.

Also (and a little OT), if a company you work for is hiring developers, try to join in on the interviewing process. It's a great learning experience and you'll get a very good idea of how you compare to other people. Some potential candidates may even inspire you to improve in areas you didn't realize you were weak in.

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Tom Sloper    16040
One thing to add about the Game Industry Salary Survey.
When you look at a figure like "how much a programmer gets with up to 3 years experience" - that includes salaries of people with 3 years experience, averaged with people with 2 years experience and 1 year's experience... So someone right out of college should not expect to make the amount shown on that survey. It has to be less. After 3 years you could be making the amount shown on that survey. (Or you might be making a little less, or somewhat more. It's an average.)

Also, the amount you get paid is never what "you are worth." Do not equate salary with one's worth.

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Orymus3    18821
[quote name='coderx75' timestamp='1355762755' post='5011762']
Take that, add about $5,000 to $10,000 for some negotiating room and you have your answer.
[/quote]
I'm actually opposed to that method. I've always been very open about my expectations. A lot of employers appreciate that, even if they risk being shocked by the initial number. This generally means there won't be much back and forth, holding up on candidates, etc. Both parties come to the table with numbers in mind, and you set yours open. It is entirely up to them to accept or refuse, rather than try and probe your invisible hand.

As far as getting a raise is concerned, all you need to do is make yourself essential to the success of the company. When asked if other companies contacted you, be honest: yes they did. Tell no more than you need to. If they're affraid, they'll raise the bar. If not, then, I can't stress enough SimonForsman's advice:

[quote name='SimonForsman' timestamp='1355758650' post='5011743']
2) After you get hired, keep track of your contribution to the business, if you can show your boss that the company will benefit more by giving you a raise than by replacing you with someone willing to work for less you're far more likely to get that raise you wanted.
[/quote]

The one way to really convince them you need a raise is to show that you understand the concerns they struggle with, elevate yourself to their level of consideration, their angle on the business. By doing so, and by really understanding your field, you can couple both knowledges and craft compelling arguments that will make your case.
My latest personal experience on this (as stated in a different thread) is that attempting to move up always pays off, even if it turns into stagnation.

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bschmidt1962    2299
One last note on the GDMag Salary survey (or any salary survey)
While a useful tool for getting some background info, it suffers from a couple signnificant issues, which tend to lead to higher numbers than might be accurate.

1) it's a survey, not a scientific poll. Self-reporters overweight non-reporters (by 100%!), and have a tendancy to slightly inflate their own salaries when reporting.
2) One or two outliers (very high earners) can skew the results (also to the high side)
3) many of the categories have relatively few respondents, making the data less reliable.

So while there is info to be gleaned from it, don't treat it as gospel or feel like ypu'r enecessarily being cheated if you're not making what an "average" similarily skilled worker does..

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JonathanJ1990    167
Wow I truly appreciate all the responses and perspectives from you guys i know it may seem like a trivial question but growing as a developer in knowledge and skill and really in a discipline that's hard to quantify until we practice it makes it hard sometimes to figure out what i'd like to earn, what others like me earn, and what i should earn based on my skill set and how to balance those thoughts. but thank you all i truly appreciate the advice.

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