Average Programmer Salary is Solid, But Specialization Boosts Pay

First things first: The line between “developer” and “programmer” is pretty blurred, at least when it comes to job postings. So when analyzing the Dice database for the “average” programmer salary, our results produced a lot of salaries attached to “developer” job titles.

If you want to get strict about definitions, a “developer” approaches coding projects from a holistic perspective: they analyze the requirements, decide on the scope and programming languages, and are ultimately responsible for implementation (and maintenance).

A “programmer,” on the other hand, is a specialist who focuses largely on coding the app; they’re less interested in taking a strategic perspective on requirements, scope, and so on. In theory, they’re not involved in the full sweep of the development process in the same way as a developer.

In reality, however, many companies treat the terms as virtually interchangeable. With that in mind, we produced a list that included not only the average programmer salary, but also a range of developer earnings:

So, $73,006 is a pretty good salary for some parts of the country, although it will barely rent you an apartment in San Francisco. If you’re interested in a programming career, it pays (literally) to know which languages are most in demand (and which are potentially doomed). According to an updated ranking by IEEE Spectrum, the programming languages most desired by employers include Python, C, Java, C++, and C# (in descending order). These languages have broad applications in business and consumer software, so it’s logical that they would top that list.

And if you want to radically increase your average programmer salary, it always helps to learn highly specialized skills. According to an analysis of salary data recently collected for Foote Partners’ IT Skills and Certification Pay Index, skills such as data science, Scala, penetration testing, and Apache Spark will increase your take-home pay by as much as 15 percent. But even if you don’t want to devote the time to learning a specialization, there’s always work for coders who really know their stuff.