Software development is so fragmented into specialties and subspecialties that figuring out developer compensation rates can be difficult.
What type of work will the developer be doing? What kind of technologies will they use and where are they located? Depending on which salary site you ask, you can get a different answer for each query. Does the site let you search by experience? By technical stack? By education level?
We searched five salary websites to compare estimates for what developers typically earn, ignoring technology or any distinction between front-end and back-end. If you're a developer in the United States, or if you're looking to hire one, here's what you can expect.
Stack Overflow doesn't just provide answers to frustrating programming questions. It conducts an annual survey of devs and publishes a salary calculator to estimate what each earns based on specific technologies used, years of education, and the city they're based in. Stack Overflow doesn't allow for a general "Software Developer" search, so we searched for a Full Stack Developer in the United States with bachelor's degrees and looked at what the mean salary was for each year of experience.
According to Stack Overflow, software developers looking at their first job can expect an average of $83,000, and those with 15 years of experience command $115,000.
ZipRecruiter only allows searches by job title and geography, making the search easier but less granular. We examined the middle bar of its distribution graphs for software developers and senior software developers in the United States. The former group can expect about $78,832, and the latter $101,136
Glassdoor's salary calculator is easy to use and thorough in its data of different job titles. It doesn't allow you to search by specific years of experience, but it does let you search by ranges—for example, 0-1 years, 1-3 years, etc. Like the other sites, it also publishes high and low estimates of what job seekers can expect to earn. We looked at the average salaries for software developers in the general United States.
According to Glassdoor, entry-level devs earn $66,372, and senior devs with 15 years of experience or more earn $99,679.
PayScale is one of the most comprehensive salary calculators available, allowing searches based on not just the usual parameters like geography and education level, but also the type of organization, certificates acquired, current employment status, and so on. It also requires you to choose a city in your search. We chose Austin, Texas, and we looked at software developers with bachelor's degrees with no tech stack specified.
Each result yields a range of salaries from the 10th and 90th percentiles. We averaged the two for each year of experience. At 0 years of experience, software developers can expect about $73,000, and senior devs with 15 years of experience should anticipate about $116,500.
Indeed provides a bare-bones search based on job title and location. We looked at salaries for software developers in the United States, who Indeed estimates earn an average of $104,907—about the middle of Stack Overflow's and PayScale's estimates, but higher than the upper range provided by Glassdoor.
Here’s a summary of what a software developer can expect to earn, depending on years of experience:
Software Developer Salaries, August 2020
We combined years of experience and averaged them out to get a figure for each year range (for example, the salary of a software developer on Stack Overflow at 4 years, 5 years, and 6 years were averaged to get its figure for those with 4-6 years of experience). We extrapolated ZipRecruiter's numbers for senior developers across various years where one could expect to work a senior position.
Overall, entry-level software developers earn about $79,390, and senior software developers earn about $108,079.
Everything is subject to change based on a variety of factors: geography, company size and type, the types of work the company is hiring for, and perhaps most importantly, how quickly the company needs to find a developer. And that's to say nothing of fringe benefits and the incalculable currency of company culture. Also, keep in mind that these numbers are averages, which means that roughly 50% of developers will earn more than the average, and 50% will earn less. If you’re interested in joining the team here at FullStack Labs, please check out our Careers page.
If you're an HR director just getting your bearings or a dev wondering what you’re worth salary-wise, this information above is a good place to start.
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