Stack Overflow's 2017 developer survey crossed my desk at the same time as a report on tech wage trends from Dice.com, who I’d never heard of before, but the report echoed many of my own observations, so I read further. It’s only from US data, but again, I have seen similar trends in other countries, so thought I’d share insights with you, in case, you know, you’re looking for a change, or are inquisitive about your worth.
Interestingly, and countering my common conception of US tech workers, whilst 24% of respondents cited switching employers as the source of a raise, 36% were due to rises in company positions, possibly showing that tech companies are desperate to hold on to experienced individuals. 2015 actually saw the largest wage rise in the history of the report, with a 5.5% raise leading to an average wage of just over $93k. 2016 actually saw a 1.3% decrease in wages, but with raises in certain skill sets, and decreases in others contributing to this number. More on that later.
Unsurprisingly, the technology areas experiencing the most disruption and change had the largest increases, with those working in cloud storage and IoT generated the largest rises, but specifically experience in Drupal (which surprised me), HBase, MariaDB, MapReduce, CloudFoundry, Cassandra, ElasticSearch, Kafka, Ansible, and Objective-C (which also surprised me) could earn you the highest wages. Taking a quick diversion to design and UX roles, experience in Omnigraffle garnered a surprisingly high wage, most design folks I meet these days are using Sketch.
Overall tech employees are satisfied with their wages, and confident that their roles are secure, with only the higher earners expressing a little insecurity, perhaps wondering if their ever increasing rates are an unrealistic idea.
Again, it may not surprise you to hear that Silicon Valley had the highest average wage ($114K), which was a slight (-0.2%) decrease on 2016. Boston came next ($103k) with a 2.1% rise. If you’re looking for places to find developers and pay them less, then your best bets for the lowest average wage are Cleveland ($78k) and Tampa ($81k), with both cities experiencing decreases in highest rates. The largest decrease was in Tampa and Atlanta (-7.6%) and the largest increase St Louis (3.1%), which makes me slightly regret turning down the job offer I had there a couple of years ago.
I mentioned that companies are trying hard to hold on to the staff they do have, and reflecting this, 70% of employees surveyed offered incentives to retain staff with benefits such as raises, flexible work, or more challenging work.
A lot of tech companies claim to maintain horizontal management structures, and wages reflect this. Once you start a highly technical role, then there’s only about an average $20k range between the lowest and highest average wages. If you’re in QA, then you experienced the largest decrease at a whopping -14.6%, but database developers are in luck with an average 8.6% increase.
A lot of the higher wages and raises went to more experienced individuals, with reasonable decreases for juniors (-5.8 to -2.7%), which perhaps shows that the increasing amount of people learning to code are flooding the less experienced end of the market and bringing overall rates down.
If you work in tech you are still fortunate, earning higher than average wages and experience good conditions. Feel happy in that knowledge, but keep an eye on new trends, keep your skills up to date, and don’t be afraid to ask for more if your wage doesn’t reflect these figures.