What does IBM pay its H-1B workers? That’s a good question, given how critics of the H-1B system insist that the major tech companies use the visa to import workers from overseas at cheaper prices.
For the purposes of this analysis, we used the H-1B Salary Database, which indexes Labor Condition Application (LCA) disclosure data from the United States Department of Labor (DOL). We isolated for the generic terms “software engineer” and “software developer,” as our recent analysis of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) dataset of H-1B visa applications for FY2019 found those were the most common terms for H-1B visa hires among tech companies (giving us a more comprehensive view of salary data).
What did we find in the context of IBM? The median salary for H-1B sponsored “software engineer” was $90,106 per year, although not every city was equal when it came to payouts. Take a look at some of the cities paying the most:
Among IBM’s H-1B sponsored “software developers,” things were a little higher, with the median salary clocking in at $96,762. Here are some of the highest-paying cities:
Just for imperfect comparison’s sake, let’s look at what IBM pays its software engineers in general. Before we plunge into the data, a couple of caveats here. For this kind of data, we rely on levels.fyi, which crowdsources compensation data from various tech companies; this data presumably includes salaries from H-1B and non-H-1B engineers alike. In addition, it also allows you to compare IBM salaries at various rankings; for the purposes of this article, we’ll state both entry-level and senior software engineer salaries, just so we have an extreme range.
According to levels.fyi, entry-level software engineers at IBM earn an average salary of $91,357, supplemented with stock worth $286 and an annual bonus of $4,214. On the other end of the scale, senior software engineers can make $162,889, with stock worth $1,111 and an annual bonus of $2,000. Of course, that doesn’t take into account how software engineers with very specialized skills (such as artificial intelligence and machine learning), who can make substantially more.
Just for giggles, here’s how IBM’s entry-level software engineer salaries compare to other prominent companies within the tech industry:
For software engineers in general, IBM’s salaries seem to be on the soft side in comparison to companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google. However, Big Blue seems more than happy to pay its H-1B workers in major tech hubs a decent salary.