If you’ve considered becoming a software developer, you’ve most likely wondered about what you can expect in terms of starting salary for a software developer. Will you be able to make ends meet as a software engineer in your first years of employment? Will your salary increase significantly over time? Are there certain industries in which you might be paid more than in others? This blog post aims to help you navigate the salary side of software development and develop reasonable expectations in terms of compensation and benefits.
Most organizations pay software developers an annual salary rather than an hourly rate. Whether you are considered exempt or non-exempt (which primarily affects how you are paid for overtime but also affects other areas of employment), however, will depend on your roles and responsibilities within the organization and may vary from one position to the next.
You can determine an approximate hourly rate of pay by taking the annual salary offered divided by 2,080 for a full time position. Likewise, you can multiply an hourly rate by 2,080 to determine your annual salary.
According to GlassDoor.com, which gathered information from over 15,000 software developers, the national average entry level software developer salary is $55,000. That comes to approximately $26.44 per hour if you work forty hours a week. Some companies start software developers out below that number – as low as $50,000 – and some start software developers out significantly higher than that, even as high as $91,000 annually.
You can expect your salary to increase as you gain experience and longevity with an organization. On average, software developers max out on average at $124,000 nationwide, but many companies pay experience software developers much more than that. An annual salary of $124,000 breaks down to approximately $59.62 hourly if you average forty hours a week.
High Paying Industries
Regardless of your field, you may not have a plethora of options to choose from when you first kick-off your job search. However, if you do have options, knowing which industries pay employers higher salaries will be beneficial in your search for employment.
Non-profit organizations, companies in early start-up phases or “new players,” and very small companies tend to offer less in terms of compensation and benefits, while companies like Microsoft, LinkedIn, Amazon in growing tech hubs such as Seattle, San Francisco and LA tend to offer the full gamut of benefits along with beyond competitive salaries.
Keep in mind that the level of professionalism required and the roles, responsibilities, and expectations the organization has for you typically matches the compensation. This means that a higher paying job most often demands more of your time and resources and requires a higher level of professionalism. Some people choose lower paying jobs in order to avoid excessive responsibility while others strive for leadership positions as soon as their feet hit the floor. Only you can determine whether a position is within your comfort zone or not.
TIP: A common mistake made by new graduates is dismissing or overlooking benefits and simply choosing the highest salary offered. A difference of just 1% in retirement match or 10% in health insurance premium paid by the employer can quickly eat up the additional salary offered. Take into consideration salary and benefits when accepting, declining, or negotiating an offer.
Opportunity for Advancement
Opportunity for advancement may make or break an offer depending on your personal and professional goals. Many organizations have a lead software developer, director of software development, software development project coordinator, or some combination or variation of the three. Opportunity for increase in responsibility equals opportunity for professional development and increased compensation and benefits. Be sure to ask prospective employers to describe the chain of command or structure of the IT/software development department or division.
A career software development can easily provide a comfortable or even luxurious lifestyle. Asking the right questions, considering the right factors, and choosing your employer carefully can ensure a successful and fruitful career in software development!