Software Developers Want Pay That Matches Their Peers

Some 40 percent of software developers around the world don’t think they’re paid fairly in relation to their peers, suggests HackerRank’s 2020 Developer Skills Report. When you break things down by generations, Millennials are the most likely to think that their pay is unfair vis-à-vis their peers.

It’s not all bad, though: Around 35 percent of developers surveyed think they’re actually compensated fairly, and the rest aren’t sure. HackerRank surveyed roughly 116,000 software engineers for its report.

Another bit of good news for those technologists who don’t think their paychecks are fat enough: Given tech’s notably low unemployment rate, employers are in desperate need of technologists—and they’re more than happy to pay handsomely for those with the right mix of skills. According to the latest Dice Salary Survey, for example, average annual pay among technologists hit $94,000 in 2019 (an increase of 1.3 percent from 2018). For those who specialize in skills such as artificial intelligence (A.I.), machine learning, and data science, salaries can spike still higher.

Developers also know that they need to earn new skills in order to rack up the cash they deserve, with 59 percent telling HackerRank that up-skilling was their top priority in a job.

That hunger for tech-savvy employees also means that employers are willing to draw talent from wherever they can find it. For example, HackerRank reports that some 32 percent of hiring managers have hired a bootcamp graduate. And if employers ever thought that bootcamp-trained technologists don’t have what it takes, that sentiment seems to be fading: Some 73 percent of hiring managers feel that bootcamp graduates possess equal (or better!) skills to those technologists trained via traditional means.

We already knew that many tech firms are drifting away from the idea of employing only those technologists with degrees from four-year institutions. For example, last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he was proud of the fact that roughly half of Apple employees don’t have a degree. IBM has relaxed its traditional reliance on strict degree requirements, with CEO Ginny Rometty once stating: “I think businesses have to believe I’ll hire for skills, not just their degrees or their diplomas. Because otherwise we’ll never bridge this gap.”

Companies are also increasingly focused on up-skilling. Amazon will reportedly spend $700 million to retrain 100,000 members of its U.S. workforce by 2025, which will include shifting non-technical employees to software-engineering roles (it’s also $7,000 per employee in educational spend, which is less than what an average bootcamp costs). Hopefully, smaller firms will follow suit—but they might need a technologist to actually ask their manager for the resources and time to train. With the additional skills, they can negotiate for the compensation they truly deserve.