Web Developer Salary: Location And Skills Boost Earnings

‘Web developer’ may be one of the most ubiquitous job titles in tech. It’s the profession within the tech ecosystem that probably touches the daily lives of more people than any other. But do you actually need to move to Silicon Valley or another “major” tech hub in order to earn a decent living as a web developer? And what constitutes a solid web developer salary?

The Dice database takes a job title, then returns the average salary for a given role in a designated metro area. We also tapped into Bankrate’s cost of living calculator. It compares the cost of living between any two cities, and tells you the equivalent income you’d need to live comfortably in the second city (i.e., the one you might hypothetically move to). We use it to gauge a theoretical scenario in which a developer is moving from Silicon Valley to a new location.

There are two reasons for that imagined situation. First, Silicon Valley is the gravitational center for the U.S. tech industry, and many companies are basing salaries and compensation on what’s being done there. Similarly, many tech pros are vacating the Valley for greener (i.e., cheaper) pastures, and this serves as a meaningful way to discover whether or not a pay reduction in another town actually counts as a “concession,” once cost of living is fully factored in.

We should also note that, of all the job titles we research for salary, web developer is among the most reliant on skills. Backbone.js could earn you a significant salary increase, for example, while Drupal pros see an uptick. Developers with AngularJS and .NET experience also enjoy a bump. Other skills included with the ‘Web Developer’ title are PHP, HTML, jQuery, ‘Web Development,’ and JavaScript.

Using that median income level, we cycled the web developer salary through Bankrate’s cost of living calculator. Here, we’ve illustrated cost of living versus Silicon Valley:

New York (we used Brooklyn as the borough to live in; otherwise, Bankrate’s calculator actually dumps you outside of the city) has the closest cost of living to Silicon Valley, but its average salary is much higher. New York also has a huge number of web developers, so it’s making its mark as a place web devs may want to consider.

If you’re looking to get off the beaten path, Nashville, Tennessee is worth looking into. It’s just outside the dense hum of the East Coast, but close enough that travel to various major cities isn’t a massive trek.

Away from the coastal cities, Detroit and Austin are great options. Both see pay within striking range of Silicon Valley, but a much lower cost of living, comparatively. Nashville has the lowest cost of living on this index, which is another mark in the ‘pro’ column for it.

If you’re looking for a sleeper hit, we like Detroit for web developers. It’s a blossoming tech hub in its own right, and the city seems to be rebounding after a huge downturn in the aughts. The data shows its cost of living is low, and the average web developer salary is very respectable.

Sadly, web developer salary doesn’t quite match up to other developer salaries. But with a few add-on skills, it scales quite a bit, so we urge web developers to learn skills throughout their career to continue earning more.