Improve Your Salary by Avoiding Silicon Valley

Your salary may go further outside of the SV tech bubble.

While developers and software engineers (hopefully!) love what they do, pay is also important. Hired has taken a broad look at salary data worldwide, giving us insight into which geographies pay well and where your income may go further than expected.

The first takeaway: developers and software engineers in the United States make quite a bit more than their counterparts globally. The reason is due to maturity; much of the modern technology we enjoy was born in this country, with Silicon Valley leading the way, so larger and long-established companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple are dominating in hiring, as well.

Still, some of the disparity is alarming. In London, developers make an average of £56,000, or $73,000. Parisians make €49,000, or roughly $55,000. Australians fare a bit better; Sydney and Melbourne average A$106,000, which is the equivalent of about $82,000 in the United States.

Domestically, San Francisco (or at least the Bay Area; Hired didn’t break that geography into microclimates for salary data) is where developers will earn the most. The average salary for a software engineer there was $134,000, which edges out second-place Seattle by $8,000 per year. New York sits in third position with an average annual salary of $120,000.

If you want to break away from the coastal grind, software engineers in Denver pull in $112,000 per year, while Austin devs earn nearly as much: $110,000. Chicago is just under both cities with an average salary of $108,000.

Salary levels across the US: Hired

Making Sense of Your Salary

Salary data seems cut and dry, but it’s not so simple in the land of tech. All the aforementioned salaries are for local developers or engineers who have established themselves in a particular area; if you relocate to a new area, the pay differential might work out in your favor.

For example, developers relocating to London earn an average of £95,000, a 28 percent increase versus domestic workers. France is worse for locals: those who relocate to Paris earn €77,000.

This trend carries through much of the tech world. Software engineers moving to Los Angeles, San Diego, Austin, Chicago, Toronto and Washington D.C. can earn anywhere between 5-21 percent more than local workers.

We do start to see this trend break down in the most dominant markets. Incoming developers to Seattle earn a mere two percent more than locals, while Boston, New York and Sydney are all even keel. Locals to Melbourne earn one percent more than imports.

Most polarizing was San Francisco, where local developers earn 10 percent more than incoming developers. That lends credence to the argument that some major tech companies are using H-1B visas to bring in cheaper talent to fill positions available to local developers.

When Hired adjusted for cost of living in cities across the board to reflect what you’d experience in San Francisco, salaries went much further. That $126,000 in Seattle was the equivalent of $180,000 in San Francisco. Austin? $198,000. Denver’s $112,000 annual salary was adjusted to ‘live’ more like $181,000. For software engineers, that sounds like a good reason to avoid the Bay Area.

Hired’s data points mostly align with Dice’s own, but there’s a bit of disparity in some of the numbers. The top five cities are pretty static between Hired’s data and our Salary Survey, but the reported salaries are off at times.

Hired’s methodology is a bit different than Dice’s. The former takes “proprietary information” gathered from 280,000 requests for interviews and job offers, but it’s unclear how many real respondents there were, or how the data is split between interviews/job offer data. Of course, there could be a variety of factors causing the disparity between Hired’s salary figures and our own.

There are a lot of good takeaways in Hired’s study, which provides a good reason for software engineers to look beyond Silicon Valley for their next job. Even Tim Cook says chasing the almighty dollar is a fool’s errand, so maybe your job search should include different cities where the cost of living (and maybe quality of life) is better.


One Response to “Improve Your Salary by Avoiding Silicon Valley”

February 16, 2017 at 12:14 pm, TJ said:

The cost of living information was good but short. I think the main bench mark for wages should include cost of living adjusted as opposed to supplying it in the equivalent of a foot note. I also think they should be spoken about in therms of national average of cost of living (or average of the cities discussed) instead of the (much higher) cost of living in the coastal hubs.


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