> It's always been my intention to retire early,
> I'm interested in making huge money and retiring early,
> I don't begrudge people with their crazy salaries but I do get frustrated that I can't find success myself.
I am shocked and surprised at the same time (knowing that I only selected quotes of a few commentators).
Shocked to see the same mindset as many managing consultants and investment bankers I have met and worked with. They work a lot with the idea to stop working eventually. Not a single one of them has retired early. Not a single one of them I would call happy or satisfied (again: my bubble).
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” - Dalai Lama
Surprised maybe because I hoped here on HN people might have a different mindset towards money and success. Or: know that there is not a strict connection between the two. To read all this "Keeping up with the Joneses" makes me sad...
Choose life, not career. Find something you love doing and do it for the 'work' itself, not for some postponed happiness.
To build on what you said: in my twenties I fell in briefly with a group of pretty elite level, classically trained, working musicians. Though I am not a music person at all myself. I would go to their (very fun) parties and just got to know them and their scene a bit. Do you know what they talked about more than anything else? More than theory or favorite artists or their instruments?
They had to be obsessed with it, about where to get it, what gigs were paying how much, about when to sell out for it. Because none of them had any, but they all still needed to pay the rent.
Amazing people, astonishing talent, wild life. Constant worry.
Yep, that's the whole problem with this "follow your passion" BS. I'm the opposite: I work in a tech job on something I really don't care much about, but the pay is excellent, and the stability is actually pretty good too. I work 8h a day, I have an easy commute, I don't stress about money. I have a pretty easy life that way. But it also feels pretty empty in some ways, but the way I see it I've removed what for me was a big stressor in my earlier life. Maybe later, after I've saved up a lot, I can think about doing something that brings me more fulfillment, but for now I just concentrate on enjoying my free time, and look at work as just that: work.
I also look at the janitors in my building when I leave work in the evening, and remind myself that they're not following their passion either. Most workers do not get to do anything that really excites them. So I count myself lucky that I can do something that doesn't ruin my health or make me hate life, and I can get paid well for it, so instead of worrying how to pay rent, I can worry about less urgent things like what to spend my weekend doing. Plus, with my free time (since I don't have a job that's overworking me, like some people), I'm free to pursue my other passions there.
Look for the middle ground. I realized that I want to work on things I like, but I still need to eat, so I've decided to split my time. I want to work at least an hour to something I'm passionate about. That way, even if I spend more of my time working for someone else, I know I still spend some of my time doing something I love.
So follow your passion, but also your survival instinct.
> So follow your passion, but also your survival instinct.
As far as simple quotes go. This sounds optimistic, yet reasonable.
Based on your advice, maybe I should just go to Thailand and freelance as an app/web dev for 3 days per week and play guitar / make electronic music for the rest. I'd wonder how I'd prepare for economic down turns though.
I'd make about: 5000 euro's per month (@ 50 euro's per hour as a freelancer). Living on about 10000 euro's per year, I'd save 20000 euro's after taxes (Dutch, high taxes, yay!). Regardless of that, I guess I wouldn't need to worry about recessions after 2 years of part-time remote freelance work, not in South East Asia anyway.
Sounds doable, at first glance. I need more glances. Especially the, "what about my girlfriend, friends and family?" glance.
Worry about a wife and kids when you WANT to worry about it. Living the life you want is the best way to meet a partner who supports that lifestyle.
Maybe one day you’ll decide it’s time for kids, and both you and your partner decide to head back to the EU for that. Or maybe you’ll raise kids in Thailand. Or maybe your partner will get an amazing opportunity somewhere else entirely and you can be a stay at home parent, making beats while the kids are at school.
It’s your life. Live it the way you want. Don’t worry too much.
If you're making 50 euros per hour, couldn't stay in the Netherlands, so that you get to be with your girlfriend, friends and family and still work 3 days per week? I think 5000 euros per month should be enough even for the Netherlands. It's true that you would save less, but you would get to be with your friends and family.
Or you could just go to Thailand for a few months, so you also scratch the traveling bug. There's nothing stopping you from coming back when you start missing the people close to you. You have options.
Hey Retra, I looked at your comment history, to see why you'd possibly be saying this.
I've noticed two type of comments that you made:
1. Comments that have substantial reasoning, mostly technical but not always. These seemed to be appreciated.
2. Short comments that seemed to attack the person or a particular concept. These short comments did not have any reasoning from your side. Also, most of these comments are non-technical.
My first thought was: it seems that you have a lot of technical knowledge, and people appreciate this. I know I do.
Two observations on the category 2 comments you make:
1. In the comments that I skimmed, no one seemed to tell you to read the guidelines. I'll post the link . Saying "then get cancer and die young" is an offensive thing to say because you're attacking the person. For some people this is obvious, but based on your comment history, I doubt whether this is obvious to you. Attacking a person is not a civil thing to do, not a nice thing to do (unless it's meant in a constructive fashion, even then it'd be debatably constructive). Regardless of that, it is in violation of the guidelines. As a technical person, I hope you'd appreciate that I'm pointing to a source appointed by Y Combinator. They make the rules on how to behave here, so then behave like that, the guidelines are reasonable. You seem to do so in most of your comments.
2. In most cases, short comments don't work quite well on Hacker News (many counter examples exist, I'm describing a trend which I observe). This is not because HN'ers dislike discussion, they dislike a discussion that does not have scientific evidence (again, a trend), most already have a problem when someone says "based on my experience". Do with this observation what you will, it's just my observation which is biased as well.
I hope these two points will help you to improve your comments like these ones, because it is obvious that you have a lot of insightful things to offer. And HN would be a more fun place if we'd see more of that and less of "then get cancer and die young" type of comments.
If you want a private conversation about this, you can always email me (check my profile).
I understand that what I said was possibly ambiguous, but I was not actually suggesting to someone that they should get cancer. I was 'bookending' a story that they were implicitly telling, in an attempt to point out that "going for your dreams" can easily run off the rails due to circumstances out of your control, and that a reasonable person might rather spend their efforts building a safety net for themselves, so that they will be able to go after there dreams without worrying so much about such matters.
Unfortunately, the more effort I seem to put into a post, the less effort others tend to put into reading it, so we all walk a fine line between precision and conciseness, and sometimes we end up on the wrong side. I don't take it personally.
An American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, “only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish? The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs. The American then asked, “but what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siestas with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine, and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.” The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City, where you will run your expanding enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15 – 20 years.”
“But what then?” Asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions!”
“Millions – then what?”
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siestas with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
I've heard this story before and I love it, but there is an important point missing. The fisherman may one day find that he can no longer catch enough tuna in just a little while to support his family. At that point he may find himself in much worse shape; maybe he has to work a lot more, or commute into town to work at the factory, or even move someplace with more opportunity. The post-retirement banker does not have that problem. I think the banker would say that his over-work earlier in life has bought him optionality that the fisherman doesn't have.
I think about this in my own life. I don't want to be like the banker, deferring my real life into the future while focusing on work. But I also don't want to be like the fisherman. I want to strike a balance that allows me to live a fulfilling life while also using the fact that my skills are currently in high demand to but myself some optionality for a future in which they may not be.
I can't say that I agree completely with the message from this story, but I do think the point would be stronger if the last bit was changed to:
The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to an exclusive coastal tourist village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your grandkids, take strolls with your third wife, go to an expensive place in the evenings where you could sip fancy wine and watch people who remind you of your old amigos play the guitar.”
Dollars are a social construction of disassociated trust of value, wherein your ability to establish rent grants you power over rentees. Votes are another way of expressing power, wherein your ability to establish a majority opinion grants you power over the minority. Seems like the equilibrium would be at the point where power expressed by the renting class is only just not quite able to override the power expressed by the majority opinion.
I'm a bit mixed in this. I've actually had both experiences. I've turned two hobbies I loved intoy full time job.
The first one (magician) went as you stated, I ended up hating it, or atleast hating it as a job. It paid pretty well, but performing because I had to instead of wanted to made a big difference.
On the other hand though, I also took my hobby of hacking stuff into the my current career doing application security consulting and vuln research. Also pays quite well and I enjoy my job quite a bit, possibly even more than doing it as a hobby.
So with a sample size of me, that's 50/50 odds on finding something you love working out as a job you love. Not great, but imo not reason to atleast take a shot if your passion also happens to pay well, and is feasible.
For me it's about security and freedom, not "keeping up with the Joneses". I earn a good salary for the UK, even if it might look small compared to the US salaries. But I've been very careful not to inflate my lifestyle too much. I don't have an expensive car. I don't go on expensive holidays. I save approximately 40% of my take home pay. I feel I need to do this because I won't necessarily be employable long past 50 and I don't feel like I can buy a house or cohabitate with a spouse.
> But I've been very careful not to inflate my lifestyle too much. I don't have an expensive car. I don't go on expensive holidays.
That's what I noticed during my undergraduate years in the UK after growing up in continental Europe: "lifestyle" for most people in the UK from the young age is associated with spending money on material things and holidays, not pursuing life-long hobbies and interests.
In much of continental Europe people seem to be enjoying their lives a way more, despite often earning 2-3x lower salaries while doing similar jobs.
In my own country, even a person making 15k / year might have a second home in the countryside, where he spends every summer weekend with his friends and family.
The UK is very similar to the US, the culture is quite individualistic which leads to a consumerist outlook. You can opt out of that but you won't get much support, indeed people will mostly push you towards it. The rot set in with Thatcher and it's got steadily worse since then.
> “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” - Dalai Lama
That's one way to look at it. Another is that one uses the early retirement as a driving goal that ultimately helps one grow. Yes, you may afford to retire and live mediocre if you want, but would you now, with your newly realized potential that the journey towards your previous goals helped you discover? For many that choose to continue, I guess it's that old saying "it is better to wear out than to rust out", the difference between those who work affording to retire comfortably in any moment and those who don't is the kind of work they do. That is the real prize worth pursuing. As regarding to publicly declared goal, it's just a good enough explanation to feed the inquisitive spirits. And it's more comfortable for them hearing that you have to work in order to make it (towards a different level than they do, but still, a shared experience there) instead of bragging that you don't have to crawl any more.
This. I left my job last month while making $500K/year: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19135399. I realized that after I attained a basic level of financial security (bills on autopay & some savings), addition income stopped mattering for my satisfaction. I don’t intend to retire. Work gives me satisfaction, but I want to work on my terms and doing things that intrinsically motivate me. Trying to find satisfaction in earning as much as possible is an unachievable thing.
Agreed. I'm at a stage in my life where my median friend probably is between 'just entering the workforce' and maybe 2 years of experience (from uni). One reoccurring idea in my mind right now is the notion of 'selling out'--what does the transition look like from "I'm happy living frugally like a college student" to prioritizing your career in your waking hours of your life? What does it look like to slowly convince yourself that just getting that next raise will finally make me happy (even though I have to sacrifice other things to do so)?
In my experience, even if you stay frugal, and I did, the main change comes from the job requiring full-time hours (and some weird culture stuff). I worked part-time in college and programming hasn't changed, but then I had daylight hours to walk outside, the freedom to stay home if I felt sick, etc. I started working F/T and almost immediately, the hour+ commute and not seeing daylight in winter rewired my brain. Suddenly, my mornings were spent preparing my lunch so I could go to work, my evenings cooking dinner and recovering from work, and on the weekends, I did everything except talk about work. (In those days my partner was still a student, and it made the contrast greater).
After the first year, my work had become my only source of pride; after the second, I was constantly wondering how to be better at work; three years after that, I engaged in a hobby for the first time in my adult life. It snuck up. I don't like money that much and I never made the conscious decision to prioritize my career; but it ate my life and I doubled down because it was all I had left.
The fact is, for most young adults, jobs pop into their life right on cue to replace the family they're no longer seeing and the dreams that have disappointed them (around 25 where that first crisis hits). If you're 25 and lonely do not go to work happy hours. If you're bored don't take work home. When your boss tells you you're very promising and he can see you grow in this company, tell yourself you're an interesting person who's had a life full of stories that people would love to get to know. The best promises are the ones you make yourself.
Well that one is easy: Get a girlfriend, like each other enough that you move in together, have a child. Boom, your most attractive option is now a decent, steady and slowly increasing pay check every month.
I found that fortunately right out of school I was very content- I had roommates, but I enjoyed that lifestyle. I had enough to put away each month into retirement and outside savings accounts and life was good.
Then I got a serious girlfriend. We moved in together. We were getting a bit older and eating dinner on the couch because our tiny apartment couldn't fit a table grew old. We got a bigger/nicer place. This was ok, I was making about 2x what I was when I first got out of school. Life was good.
We got married, we hit 30. We were tired of being at the whims of landlords and ever steeply increasing rents in our area. We bought a condo, with the intent on staying put more than 3 years (as opposed to moving every 1-2 like we had previously. It was a big scary commitment to take on, and it was right in the middle of the financial crisis. My comp stagnated for 3 years as I was at a company that at the end of each year said "well you know, money is tight..." Overall though, we could afford our place, our savings was growing, and as we started leaving the crisis, my retirement and brokerage accounts started to bloom. I eventually ditched the shitty company and joined a legit tech company for a 50% total comp increase. At one point, all my other savings exceeded what I owed on my mortgage, which was a big relief. I life was good.
We have been married about 5 years, our condo is great, but not big enough for a family. Our neighborhood, which we love, and while was one considered "bad" is now quite desirable as people realized the commute into the core of the city was quite easy. Property values are through the roof. I DREAD the notion of going back to living in a check to check fashion. An upgrade to a forever home in our area is going to cost us 2-3M. My wife and I both work relatively long hours. We either face moving out of the city and into the burbs, but trading that for a long commute, or having a mortgage that could potentially ruin us and cause great stress. I like my job, but I did get a call from a competing company, where I could potentially 1.5x my comp again... life is good?
I hope this gives some perspective on how the salary treadmill happens. We are in a very high cost of living area/tech hub, this would look a lot different if I was in the midwest, but I think this path is pretty typical for those living on the coasts these days.
I'm in kinda that position (keeping the condo not having more than 1 kid, though). And honestly the sad thing is the kids don't care. Growing up my parents did the whole, salary treadmill, long hours, 30% travel, Saturday conference call business. The money's gone. The vacations forgotten. It kind of sucks nobody cooked in my home and I had to learn how to boil pasta at 17. I don't have college debt, but it's not like I use my degree anyway. I'm not sure all the stuff my parents doubtless told themselves they were doing for me was worth it.
You’re alive, it sounds like your life is pretty stable, and you obviously understand the value of providing for your own kid(s). I’d say your parents spent their time well, even if they (like all of us) made some mistakes along the way.
One of my favorite sayings is that every single new parent, upon arriving home with their first child, immediately realizes that they have no clue what they’re supposed to do now. We’ve all been there, and so were our parents.
Those who choose to try and give their kids a good life at their own expense are always doing something right.
It just becomes the new norm because of the people who surround you, there's no need to convince yourself. Your current norm as a student living relatively frugally is also shaped according to your context. There's a point where you realize: "My norm has changed." You might not find yourself believing the next raise will make you happy. But it might help with the feeling that you're treated unfairly.
Just for the sake of variety, I started off as a promising young software developer but let idealism and thirst for adventure get in the way :) Besides loving to code, having skills in high demand has allowed me to travel and explore the world for the past 20 years.
1997-1998 - $32k - Programmer for State government
1998-1999 - $86k - Consultant, Phoenix & NYC
2000-2004 - $32k - Software developer for NGO, Amsterdam
2004-2006 - $28k - Developer & Network Admin throughout Asia for NGO
2006-2007 - $14k - Independent remote software consultant while studying Mandarin full-time in Beijing
2007-2008 - $10k - Manager of ceramics studio in Jingdezhen, China
2008-2017 - $14k - Studio Ceramicist in Jingdezhen, part-time remote developer
2018 - $38k - Part-time remote software consulting while pursuing an MFA, Alfred, NY
Don't have links on hand, but it changes from country to country. We started ours in Sweden, where my cofounder is from. It was pretty easy compared to the 503(C) process in the US: create a governing document, put together a board, hold your first meeting, apply for organization status, apply for charity status.
Happy to talk more if you want- my email is in my profile.
Each employee chooses each year how much of their
compensation they want in salary versus stock options.
You can choose all cash, all options, or whatever
combination suits you
And what's really freaking cool:
There are no compensation handcuffs (vesting)
requiring you to stay in order to get your money.
People are free to leave at any time, without loss of
money, and yet they overwhelmingly choose to stay.
We want managers to create conditions where people love
being here, for the great work and great pay.
Yeah, you might be in the rare - and lucky! - case...I've worked for numerous large enterprises in northeast U.S. (in different industries), and all of them were 2~3% increases per year max.; and in some years such as during recession, they were 0~1%. Kudos to you good sir!
I've taken > 10% y/y for the past 4 years. I had one year in there where I was being jerked around as a sort of Mr. Fix-It between multiple teams and doing much more than just proving my worth. That year I took about 25% in pay raises _and_ negotiated cash bonuses for myself and two other team members who were carrying that product. I've nearly doubled my salary with my current employer over the past 4 years.
How did you get a remote job at Netflix? Were you hired as remote or did you get an offer and then negotiate remote? I will eventually need to move away from the Bay Area to take care of family but the company I work for (FB) has almost no remote options and no offices near my family.
An actual Netflixer can chime in, but as far as I know from friends who work there, Netflix is almost all base, no stock and no large bonus. My friends are data engineers with 3-5 YOE making about 400k base upon their hire, so I believe it. They thought folks in the ML group were in the 700-800k range. All hearsay though, so please take with grain of salt.
Ex-Netflix here. I left at the tail end of 2016 & was making 320k then. No bonuses, but they did give you [an additional] 5% of your salary in options at I think 40% of the strike price. I assume it is still that policy.
At 800K, I am extremely curious how your work-life balance is? I am assuming after an age and salary number, a lot of your time goes into managerial tasks and at the rate you are compounding on salaries, I would bet it will be a hectic WLB. Further out of curiosity, at what age do you plan to retire?
800k is no easy feat, at Google OP would have to have been Senior Staff or Principal, and there aren't many of those. Unless OP joined early and is including stock appreciation, then that would be more reasonable.
These are unbelievably high salaries. In Germany such salaries are possible only at management positions (not talking about IB) of large companies only. I visited US 3 years back and I found everything better - clothing cheaper, food more delicious, people friendlier and houses bigger. Yes you don't have social security and have poverty issues but I would still be in US than in Europe considering the amount of money you guys make. Comparing all this, it seems like we're are being exploited here.
I work in a management consulting firm (not in top3). Salary progression is as follows (all in euros before taxes):
2010-2012- Ausbildung + odd jobs - 30k
2012- 55k - full time job
2015-65k- full time job
2017-75k- full time job
2019-85k- full time job
I'm interested in making huge money and retiring early, but seems less certain to do that at the moment. Compared to you and many others here, I feel like I should act soon now, to reach such levels. But actually I don't know what I should do. Any suggestions?
Europe is all about quality of life raises rather than cash raises. My passion is acrobatics and I negotiated less working hours rather than a big pay raise. This year I'll do partner acrobatics teacher training for a month in spain and still extra time left over for staffing a meditation retreat over christmas. I'm in Austria and my progression is as follows.
(All of below hours are flex time, all overtime can be redeemed as time off at a later date) (* is negotiated raise)
2011 - Moved from Canada to Austria fresh out of college
2011 - 26k€ 38.5H/W Company 1
2012 - 31k€* 38.5H/W Company 1
2013 - 35k€* 38.5H/W Company 1
2014 - 37k€* 38.5H/W Company 1
2015 - 46k€* 38.5H/W Company 2 - Mandatory overtime 10/month
2016 - 49k€* 38.5H/W Company 2 - Mandatory overtime 10/month
2017 - 50k€ 38.5H/W Company 2 - Mandatory overtime 10/month
2018 - 35k€* 30H/W Company 2
2019 - 42k€ 30H/W Company 3
A few notes -> Taxes are very high, but so is support. I have no worries health care, dental, etc everything is covered. 5 weeks paid vacation a year, unlimited sick days. I end up with about 1000€/month after rent/food/entertainment and I live very comfortably. I'm not rich but it works well for me.
I also moved to Graz, Austria 5 years ago for FW development. What brought you here all the way from Canada and what's your field of activity if I may ask? You aren't also in Graz aren't you? :)
I've also noticed this BS in some contracts of Austrian companies that include mandatory overtime or worse, all-in contracts. I tried to negotiate my way out of that but got funny looks and some said that'll hinder any career progression in that company as that's seen as not being a team player.
I moved here originally for love, then stayed because it feels like home now. I'm in Linz, I started in Testing, moved to back end in Java and am now full stack + devops. Still spend most of my time hacking away at Java on the back end though. ^^ I pass through Graz every now and then, I have friends there and there's an amazing acrobatics community there.
Don‘t focus on the huge money aspect. There is a lot of selection bias here, only few people make this much outside of some very particular areas/companies.
Comparing Germany (where I’m also from) and the US, I’d say that Germany still gives much higher standard of living at the same salary, especially due to lower rents in the big cities.
FYI my progression
120k joining top3 mgmt consulting after PhD, stayed for 4yrs, left when being promoted to project leader (200-250k)
200k in mgmt position at e-commerce company in Berlin
Anyway, I think money matters way less than happiness in the job and a good work-life-balance, at least when you have no debt and aren’t struggling financially (=there is enough money left for vacations and some savings)
In Germany the university playing field is much more level than elsewhere. While certain universities stand out in certain areas, it’s not a deciding factor in most cases. Many of the small town universities are actually quite renowned.
The big divide is Universität vs Fachhochschule (university of applied sciences), which are in many fields considered inferior unless they have special profile (eg highly international).
Look, you're right about happiness, but let me make 200k/year for about 5 years and then I'll publicly share your view. Also, that's Berlin; the situation in NRW (excluding D & K) is a bit different. Currently earning 1/4 from what you earn, with 6 years experience in the same company.
Did you take a pay cut moving from consulting to e- commerce company? Did it make your work life balance better?
Yes I agree that wanting more money can result in frustration as in Germany such salaries are not that common outside of management positions or specific companies, but I have some plans to fulfill - buying a Porsche; travelling the world; opening an NPO in a developing country, employing literate and teaching underprivileged, etc..
With the pennies that I'm earning, I wont be able to save as much, wont be able to retire as early as I would like to and, most importantly, the impact of final initiative won't be that high. So for me it is important that I earn huge..anyway, it's a choice of thinking, I'm happy with my life even now, just not quenched with the money I have..
Thanks for this very informative post! Here in Japan, salaries are much more Europe-like, whereas hours are (I suspect) US-like -- the worst of both worlds!
My pay as a non-software-engineer doing a lot of Excel monkey work in the back office of a fintech company. I'll use yen for consistency; today the exchange rate is about 110 yen per US dollar.
1999-2001 3.6M base
2002-2006 3.6M base + 1.0M (night shift bonus)
2007-2008 4.2M base + 1.0M (night shift bonus continues)
2009-2015 4.5M base + 700k bonus + 1.0M night bonus
2016 4.5M base + 300k bonus + 500k night bonus (rotating shifts; fewer nights) + 200k vested stock options (issued 2012, vested after 4 years)
2017 4.4M base + 300k bonus + 500k night + 200k stock
2018 4.4M base + 300k bonus + 1.0M night (worked nights all the time again) + 80k stock (stock value plummeted)
2019 4.4M base + 300k bonus + 90k stock (no night shifts anymore)
I'm not a native speaker of Japanese, and have no desire to go into middle management, so I suspect things will continue as they are now indefinitely. There's a lot of pressure to reduce salaries and we have onerous KPI demands: five to seven every half year, all of which must be met to maintain salary. It gets harder and harder to keep coming up with ideas for them as the years pass, and I'm thinking of giving up my full-time hard-to-fire status and becoming a contract worker. Bonuses and stock options would disappear but stock options earned in past years would continue to vest. And my stress level would drop by quite a bit!
I'd say tech salaries highly depend on your company and even the type of position you're in.
At foreign FAANG (which means Google and Amazon here) and investment banks traditionally you can expect upwards of 10M JPY/y (total compensation) for moderately senior engineering positions and even over 15M for more senior positions.
But it's not just foreign companies. Some Japanese companies like Mercari and Fast Retailing are now in an engineer hiring craze and they're offering highly competitive salaries.
My personal history in Japan:
2015-2016 8M JPY
2017 12M JPY (renegotiated my salary)
2018 13M JPY
2019 14M JPY
That's a pretty impressive bump you negotiated! Same company, or a different one?
I'm in fintech too, but I'm not an engineer; more like a dime-a-dozen Excel monkey. Most people I know doing programming are terribly paid (<250k per month); they make even less than generic office workers, who make over 1600 yen per hour.
Having entered my 40s and not being in management, I suspect that my chances for a pay increase have long passed. I went to graduate school in my spare time (when I was working nights) and might try going into academics if I can't take company life any more.
Do you expect to see increases beyond that 14M or do you think that's the cap?
In Austria, the upper end for senior developers seems to be 70k. Architect roles seem to range from 70k to somewhere below 100k...
Even big companies often have a fixed upper limit, like "we can't give him more than 65k" and they rather wait many months until they find a good one who will work for that money or rather hire "IT consultants" from Accenture/CapGemini etc. that cost more than twice as much. It's kind of sad.
I've noticed the salary cap is quite popular in Austria as a wage suppression technique to keep salaries low acroos the board and not generate competition among companies for employees. Are your numbers valid for Vienna or Graz?
It's improving a lot in Austria right now I feel like, there's huge demand. I have friends that thanks to big bonuses are taking home ~100k€ for developer positions. (They are very good at what they do)
It’s a matter of personal discipline. There is an enormous variety and quantity of inexpensive calories available as well. Some people take excessive advantage of that and others don’t.
I get those same credit line offers and just don’t respond. We live in the same house we bought 12 years ago when I was making around half of what I make now. We drive our cars for 8-15 years and usually buy them used (my cheap electric LEAF was bought new only because of the $10K in government incentives made buying used make no sense, all others were used).
Frugality can easily be done; it does take some discipline. I see colleagues with $100K kitchen renovations and two leased luxury automobiles. I am quite sure we’re headed to a happier and more secure retirement, early if we like, but more likely simply flush and setting our kids up for a good financial grounding and head-start.
That is because everyone in the US lives above their means. I am astounded at how frivolously my acquaintances live, despite having huge student and car loan payments. Home ownership is also worryingly low among urban youth.
The trend towards buying SUVs is IMO another sign of this. The coupe / hatch is way cheaper, but they must have the SUV despite not needing it as much.
HN is the exception, with a lot more people being fans of a minimalistic and careful approach to spending.
Well moving, as much as i would like to do, is not that easy..I live with my wife who is also working. She is not comfortable in working in English. We have bought a house in south of Germany which has to be paid off..uncertainty in jobs and hire & fire culture is pretty scary..also, we live close to our parents and extended family, where we have lots of fun over the weekends..
Just my 2 cents...If you want to make significantly more, focus on the business problems you can solve, not the technology you know/use. I’m not an “X” developer. I’m a business person that happens to use code to add value.
If this is outside your comfort zone, look for some basic books on business and internalize the fact that until you can tie your knowledge to dollars coming through the door, you likely won’t make significant jumps in pay.
There are numerous posts that have been shared on HN on how to make more money as a consultant/contractor/freelance developer. They are almost 100% relevant to company employees.
I’m not saying this is something you can change tomorrow. It could be months, could be years. Really depends on how quickly you can learn the business you are involved in and where you are starting from. I don’t know you or your situation so this advice is extremely general. Focus on what the problems are your business/clients have which cost them money or find a way to answer a question like “if we do this it costs X and we make Y.” Make sure you drive those types of initiatives and get your name attached to them but that doesn’t always mean doing it alone.
The posts are pretty easily searchable and even if you don’t find the ones I’m thinking of, the process of searching and filtering on its own is important. One thing I had to learn the hard way is that, with a few rare exceptions, no one is going to be your teacher/mentor. Everyone is too busy with their own shit.
Ultimately, if you want to know more or make more, it comes down to finding ways to justify that to the people that can make that decision. Given you make around $85k/year you need to look at the people several years ahead of you in the career track, if one exists, at your company.
If your goal is to make more, you need to be aggressive. Invest in yourself in as many ways as you can. Learn more about software. Start by expanding beyond “web developer”. learn back-end programming, databases, etc. Talk to the people in your company that do sales, marketing, operations, HR. Learn as much as you can about your business or one you want to move into. Experience trumps everything. If you aren’t getting experience that makes you more valuable, you need to move on.
My last piece of advice is more of a warning. A lot of how much you make comes down to luck. Did the interviewer like you for the highly paid job? Did the team you are a part of get the credit for a major win for the company? Or other things that aren’t always within your control. The important thing is that you keep moving forward. Looking for opportunities and driving things to completion. Hard for me to not phrase this in terms of finance...you want to constantly be buying call options on yourself. So that new thing you learn/project you complete that gets your name out there? It is a call option on yourself. Most of those options expire worthless, but hopefully a few pay off big time.
Wow this is great advice, thank you I appreciate the time and effort you took in writing that.
I have a few follow up questions if you dont mind.
>If your goal is to make more, you need to be aggressive. Invest in yourself in as many ways as you can. Learn more about software. Start by expanding beyond “web developer”. learn back-end programming, databases, etc. Talk to the people in your company that do sales, marketing, operations, HR. Learn as much as you can about your business or one you want to move into. Experience trumps everything. If you aren’t getting experience that makes you more valuable, you need to move on.
Its so easy to learn in isolation, but how can you actually turn it into profit? How can you quantify your skills? How does one get good at tha?
Also, why the call option analogy, do you work in finance (just curious)?
In case you happen to see this: The commenter replying to you here is right, but that approach also seems really overwhelming. Something actionable but I think a bit easier along the same lines: take projects or seek opportunities to work closely with your product managers, or whatever your company calls the people whose job is to figure out what the customer / market wants from your product. Basically the people they make the most fun of in Office Space - "I talk to the customer so the developers don't have to" - are really important and great people to learn from.
Web development and other easy domains like iOS / Android are quickly going the way of other craft jobs of the past: Blue collar.
If you want to make above average salaries you're going to have to specialize. Find something that is both challenging (to reduce barrier to entry) and niche (to demand a higher salary). In other words - specialize. Staying as a generic web/ios/android dev is only going to guarantee that your salary becomes more and more diluted by the avalanche of developers entering the field. The barrier to entry is just too low.
In my department, mobile is the bottleneck for every PM's ambitions and the only speciality where recruiting never even approaches headcount/budget. It's possible that the low end contract labor market is flooded or something, but iOS and Android devs who can pass a whiteboard are worth their weight in gold.
I really don't agree with this. I'm a 27 year old JS-focused web dev @150k base.
I understand that the bootcamps and proliferation of web-teaching schools have made web dev seem like the easy thing, and I agree that what I do is less complex than these $800k-earning data engineers, but web development in 2019 is no joke. The same goes for iOS/Android.
The types of things these companies are trying to build are not just "slap it together in a week and done" type projects and it takes experience to architect and engineer them effectively. Your average bootcamp grad is not able to do it yet.
iOS/Android/Web development forms the 3 primary portals to a company's clients, and as long as that's true, the value of such skillsets will remain high.
I'm sorry, but anyone who says any domain is easy either hasn't written real code in it, or is making gross generalizations about entry level code monkey positions that doesn't reflect the entirety of the space.
I don't care if it's games, web front end, back end, databases, machine learning, mobile, embedded
literally doesn't matter, if you think you can brush off any of them like that, you haven't built something substantial with them.
Are there varying levels of difficulty across niches? Sure, but one person can slap a few python libraries together in an afternoon and call it AI/machine learning, and a 3-5 person team can also spend 6 months building a monster, fined tuned native iOS application.
There's challenges everywhere, it's a matter of finding them.
I get your point, but it's objectively false. If your same argument cannot be made for any domain, than you can't simply make it for domains of your choosing.
Certain careers DO have levels of challenge, as well as other barriers to entry, that increase the value of workers. You could not argue to me that flipping burgers at McDonalds is hard. Within the domain of computer science, you simply cannot argue to me that generic CRUD web/ios/android is hard.
And you can't argue that the extent of web/ios/android development is generic CRUD. I'm not attempting to make it for domains of my choosing, I'm making it for the entirety of computer science related domains.
Of course not. I think it goes without saying that within any technical domain is the capacity for a top ~5% performer, who understand such a depth of that domain that it becomes a specialization in itself.
I'm merely stating that the domain itself, is not by default, a high enough barrier to entry to merit any kind of above average salary. Of course if you're a much higher performer, with a much deeper knowledge base within that domain, then your pay will likely reflect that.
I am in Australia as well, I started on a similar base as you. I told employers that I was willing to learn and do anything. Most the stuff I have worked on is back-end services.
2010 - 25yo - 41k - First job - .net dev (internal services / sql).
2011 - 26yo - 41.1k
2012 - 27yo - 65k - Second job - job advertised as .net became pseudo COBOL dev.
2013 - 28yo - 80k - moved more in to tech lead / manager role.
2014 - 29yo - 86k - Third job - .net web dev (webforms / mvc).
2015 - 30yo - 86k
2016 - 31yo - 163k - COBOL / .net + odds and ends
2017 - 32yo - 163k
2018 - 33yo - 170k
As others have said, technology really isn't the thing that will drive your increase in remuneration. It is understanding client requirements, creating business solutions, being able to communicate said solutions.
Average Full Time Ordinary Time Earnings Q2 2018
State Average Annual Wage
South Australia $75,369
New South Wales $83,517
Northern Territory $86,762
Western Australia $90,496
Capital Territory $94,224
> The larger tech companies in Melbourne and Sydney are giving $120k+ AUD total comp to grads
Which larger tech companies?
I'm self employed and have worked 100% remote for around 5 years, so am a bit out of touch. However, I have close friends in senior positions at major tech companies in Melbourne (REA, Xero etc.) and $120k for grads sadly does not align with what I've heard from them, closer to $70k (AUD) for a grad seems to be the norm.
It's absolutely nothing to sneeze at when comparing yourself to the rest of Australian society. Certainly got to be thankful to be in the industry.
However, it's a surprisingly weak effort by Australian tech companies to attract high quality talent. My first full-time software development job, almost 10 years ago and without a degree, was $70k. That was at your run-of-the-mill medium sized enterprise consulting firm.
> The larger tech companies in Melbourne and Sydney are giving $120k+ AUD total comp to grads.
That's some nonsense. Could you drop some names for 'Graduate X' which has that kind of pay scale?
With that being said, it's quite possible to earn 150k+ within 4-5 years in Melbourne. Just be smart about it, listen out for what technologies are trending because inevitably they will be the most numerous and with the highest chance to score a well paying role -- especially if you have your ahead of the influx of developers in X language.
By all accounts I'm not especially talented and I have done so.
PS. If you want $$ learn Salesforce, the money which comes along with knowing that system is freakin craziness.
You get paid 3 times as much working in the US. You also get treated well rather than as a cost centre which was my experience back in Aus.
I'm an Australian developer earning triple that+stocks on top at one of the FAANG. Trump, guns and shitty healthcare don't affect you day to day in the states. The E3 visa for Australians to work in the US is trivial.
The funny thing is that Sydney real estate is comparable to silicon valley despite no one earning anynear as much.
+1 I'm not doing much more different than I was when I left Australia, but went from 130K-ish AUD (inc super+bonus) to 260K-ish USD (inc bonus+stocks) = 370AUD in the last few years. The taxes are significantly lower on these amounts in the US as well (at least in Seattle where there's no income tax).
Some context: PhD in EE, but spend most of my time coding.
2011: $100k, industry R&D lab, VA
2012: $150k, “”, “”
2013: $150k, “”, “”
2014: $0, self-employed and didn’t turn a profit
2015: $100k, academic researcher, Midwest
2016: $160k, industry R&D, SV
2017: $165k, “”, “”
2018: $170k, “”, “”
Since 2016, I’ve been working in SV for a company that pays engineers all cash, a modest bonus, and no stock. I like the work and people, but I feel like I’m leaving a lot of money on the table.
Almost anywhere else in the country, I’d be making a considerable amount of money. In SV, it doesn’t feel that way. Myself and most of my (unmarried) coworkers are in our 30s-40s and living in studio apartments. I couldn’t provide a family with the same lifestyle my parents gave me (a house, two cars, safe neighborhood, good school district, mother could stop working for several years to raise me), and they managed without college educations.
I’ve recently tried making the jump into a FAANG company or unicorn, but so far no luck. One company was willing to give feedback: I don’t have enough experience with large scale systems. It’s tough, because I’ve aged out of junior positions, but I guess I lack the right experience for experienced positions. Still have a couple irons in the fire though.
Honestly, time to leave SV if you want to provide for a family. I'm in Atlanta. 10 years experience, 135k base, 150k total comp (401k and bonus). You can easily provide what you parents provides you here for 100k salary, which can be easily had. No one will judge you if you don't have large scale systems experience.
As a potentially helpful data point, I've occasionally been approached for senior technical roles in Atlanta, at large non-tech companies, where they've opened with $600-700k total comp. While I've never seriously pursued a job in Atlanta, that market apparently has at least some willingness to pay well for high-end technical talent that I would not have expected.
Ignoring the actual numbers because of cost of living, an EE with coding experience would be doing far better here on Florida's eastern coast. That "studio apartments" bit is horrifying.
My coworkers and I seem to do lots better. I've seen my coworkers use a single income to buy: a condo on the beach, a new McMansion, 11 acres with farm animals and shooting, waterfront property with access to the ocean, waterfront property for an airboat into marshlands, and lots of toys. I went for a simple house, 3500 square feet on 0.38 acres and now fully paid off, within walking distance of work. I also had 11 children and bought 3 cars.
> I couldn’t provide a family with the same lifestyle my parents gave me (a house, two cars, safe neighborhood, good school district, mother could stop working for several years to raise me), and they managed without college educations.
It depends where you live. That's probably possible on £30k in the UK including various benefits, certainly on £50k, as long as you live somewhere sensible.
What are the non-housing costs you need?
In 2008 a couple with 2 kids spent, per week:
Food and drink £103.53
Clothing and footwear £29.26
Household goods and services £27.11
Personal goods and services (inc health) £27.39
Social and cultural activities £90.08
£320 a week, or £1400 a month. That's £1800 a month after inflation 
Housing costs say £650 a month for a mortgage 
£2.5k a month, or a net of £30k, that's a single income of £42k a year 
You'll also get £1800 in child benfit.
If you have larger outgoings, say 30% more to £2400 a month plus housing, you're looking at a net of £36k, or gross of £52k 
(Marginal tax £50k-£60k is 69% though so there's not much point earning more than that, until you're past 60k and it drops back to 51%)
> I don’t have enough experience with large scale systems.
I'm frustrated for you. This is a dumb reason to say no to someone. "Large systems" are a solved problem and i dont think anyone is working on some system that cant be handled. I work at one of this scale companies, there's nothing special about, people jerking them selves off.
Salary progression, no college degree. Cash only comp, no RSUs or anything like that.
20 - $65k (Office Rural NY, SE)
21 - $65k (Remote, 10 Person Startup, SE)
22 - $75k (Remote, 10 Person Startup, SE)
23 - $85k (Remote, 10 Person Startup, SE)
24 - $85k (Remote, 10 Person Startup, SE)
25 - $225k (Remote, SF Series B Startup, Lead SE)
26 - $225k (Remote, SF Series B Startup, Lead SE)
27 - $393k (Office, SF Series C/D Startup, Principal SE)
28 - $393k (Office, SF Series C/D Startup, Principal SE)
29 - $0 (Took a year off)
30 - $0 (Took a year off)
31 - $150k (Founded a startup)
I did something like this once, but from a different angle. Since salaries usually trend up, it's interesting to look at each salary bump in terms of how much money it makes for you over your entire working lifetime.
For example, if your first job pays $60k, and your working years are say 52 years total, the payout from sustained employment is $3.12 million dollars (52 years * $65k).
If you then move onto another job 2 years later, and make $70k. The payout for that jump is $500k ($10k * 50 years).
Or another way is to look at how much each pay bump has made for you till now (instead of over your entire potential working lifetime).
This helped put into perspective for me how important certain pay increases were for me and how unimportant others were. For example, big pay increases that occurred recently haven't yet had time to really make me any significant money, but even modest ones from 20 years ago have.
It also really puts into perspective how bad bonuses are vs wage increases. Even a large bonus pales in comparison to decades of small increases.
It also gave me better information when I chose to take a job at lower pay, in terms of how much I was sacrificing, and when I eventually ended back up where I was, how much that choice was actually costing me over my lifetime.
When your stock gets awarded, the full amount is taxed as income. If you don't sell that stock for a year and then sell it, any gains from the price at the award date and the sell date are taxed as cap gains so not really.
> is taxed under the Bush era cap gains values of only 15%
Not really. A lot of it is taxed as income when vested, as mrep mentioned. And if you do keep them long term, at that level of income the long-term cap gains tax is 20%. And there is also the Net Investment Income Tax of 3.8%.
I have worked in Spain and Sweden. My salary as developer has been in the range of €32K-€45K in the past 15 years in Spain. It has been around €65K in Sweden (similar to what now friends make in Spain). And it is below €100K as an architect.
The cost of living in Sweden is higher than in Spain. And Spanish salaries in IT has soared. So, economically, it was not worth moving. But, the experience of living abroad is worth the money.
It is difficult to compare with USA salaries as here there is more taxes but you get better services. For me the deal breaker is the equality. I know that people around me makes a living wage. But, I will not discard to move to any other country in the future for the experience as every country has its own charm.
It is difficult to compare, but the reality is that especially at FAANG companies the company has good services. They provide transport to/from the office, healthcare, retirement stuff, etc. However, the taxes in Europe are higher.
I've been pretty fortunate. Hard to believe that in 2004, my little family survived on only $16k. That was a tough year. I was really grateful for government assistance, as we were below the poverty line.
And last year I made more than $2M. I paid more than $1M in income taxes. I hope some of that money is going to help little families like mine in 2004.
I don't want to be too specific, as I'd rather keep this anonymous. But I happened to find myself with some rare and highly valuable skills, and I took on a lot of new responsibilities. I'm now in technical management.
I don't think my success is necessarily repeatable, I just happened to see some opportunities and seize them. I've been fortunate.
I have no qualms letting people know my comp so they know that is possible, and helped many developers in my short 6 year career get better jobs/get life changing comp.
Caveat to my numbers - I am an asian male math PhD dropout from a top 15 graduate program who had hardly coded prior to his first developer job. I also have substantial open source contributions to major libraries, starting from my first developer job.
Nov. 2012 - $51k (in DC)
Sept. 2013 - $75k (new job)
May 2014 - $105k + paid relocation (in Silicon Valley)
August 2014 - $140k (laid off from last job, changed to new one in 2 hours)
Jan. 2015 - $145k (raise at same job)
July 2015 - $160k (laid off from prior job in June)
July 2017 - $280k = $160k base, $15k signing bonus, $105k RSUs in FAANG (laid off from prior job in May)
Sept. 2018 - $303k = $164k base, $14k performance/annual bonuses, $125k refresh RSUs (annual raise from performance reviews at same job - was band limited on the base salary)
Can we really compare them, though? I live in France, where €90k/y puts you in the top 1% salaries. In the US, you’d need to earn $400k/y to be in the same position. Standard of living and other social benefits come to mind.
I don't get this thinking. I think everyone is making the comparison to Silicon Valley, which is ridiculously expensive because their are too many people making too much money that all want to be in the same place.
In most of the USA, not only do you make more than you would in France, but things are actually cheaper, not more expensive. Imagine you make $150,000/year, a really nice house cost $300,000 (think $2,000 monthly mortgage/taxes/insurance payment), groceries, electricity, internet, car for a small family is $2,000 month. And that is with a very high quality of life. If you want to live frugally cut all the expenses in half. The company provides health insurance.
I think the biggest difference might be that Americans report their salary before taxes, and I think Europeans tend to do it after taxes. $150,000/year with a small family is probably $110,000-$120,000 after taxes in most states. €90k after taxes is comparable. Just need to consider quality of life differences.
European salaries are in my experience usually reported pre-tax, which makes the situation even worse :P Half the pay of our American counterparts, double the taxes and most non-real-estate goods are more expensive.
> I think the biggest difference might be that Americans report their salary before taxes, and I think Europeans tend to do it after taxes. $150,000/year with a small family is probably $110,000-$120,000 after taxes in most states. €90k after taxes is comparable.
Europeans also report before taxes, and that 90k€ is definitely before taxes. I don't know about this person's taxation, but it's probably around 50k€ after taxes. That's still a very good salary in Europe though.
The people making "too much money" are doing the indispensable work that generates the profit (or chance-at-profit) for their employers, and the employers are by definition OK with paying them that share, which even in very profitable industries is highly unlikely to be as big a share as "management" gets.
If people in France get a much smaller cut (I assume they do, people in Germany certainly do) then wouldn't that mean they're getting too little?
(I think this was close to the other half of your point actually.)
I should clarify, I don't think there is anything wrong with being paid a lot to do valuable work. I didn't mean it that way when I wrote it, I'm not used to this concept that people that make a lot of money are doing something wrong. Seems like they are doing something that people value a lot.
I hardly ever comment on HN (I usually lurk) but I felt compelled to due to the sheer amount of false claims in this comment.
First off, can we define "things" in your sentence "things are actually cheaper, not more expensive"? What are the "things" you're talking about?
Education? Eh... not really expensive in the US, is it? the US student loan debt is swelling at about $1.5 trillion... and counting. It speaks volume as to how costly education is in the US. 
Healthcare? Hugely expensive for a country as "rich" as the US. Unless, of course, you work for a generous employer and in that case, everything is paid for. Wait a second, I'm told not all employers provide a healthcare plan along with a 401k plan? That's unfortunate. Let's also remind ourselves that the US doesn't provide universal healthcare for all its citizens unlike other advanced industrialized countries. So if you happen to be jobless? You're SOL. Awe-effing-some. Let's move on... 
Housing? In SF/SV/NYC/Seattle/Washington/any major US city, housing is extremely expensive as is housing in any major European metropolis such as London/Paris/Munich/Zurich. I bet the $300,000 nice house you mention in your comment must be somewhere in the countryside where nobody lives, right? Let's make this clear: houses located in the middle of nowhere in any European country also cost zilch. Let's take France for instance: 30K euros gets you a 100 sqm house (even bigger sometimes) in the Creuse region. Yeah nobody wants to live there but hey at least I can own a large house for the price of a car. 
I could go on and on. I haven't even touched on other topics such as Internet, groceries, rent or insurance. Your comment comes across as plain ignorant and downward complacent. I don't get this tendency of always sugarcoating the US, as though it would make it magically more appealing to the average Joe to move there.
Please back up your claims next time with articles or sources. Just use your favourite search engine.
I just live and work in the USA my whole life, if anything I'm wrong about France. I'm not going to bother to refute most of your claims, as the premise is what are the salaries of tech people, not what are the standards of living of jobless people in San Francisco. Most of the US population, including myself and most of my acquaintances, live outside of those major cities, and that was the point I was making. You listed off literally the most expensive places to live in the USA, where the majority of people do not live. Education expenses are whatever you want to pay, we have plenty of choices including cheap choices, and generous scholarships for those that can't afford it but are smart.
I just caught you out making stuff up and now you resort to making yet again even more stuff up: "Education expenses are whatever you want to pay" (yeah, let's just buy 1/10th of a Bachelor degree, sounds like a plan to cut the costs), "you listed off literally the most expensive places to live in the USA, where the majority of people do not live" (sure, nobody lives in major cities) (why the hell are they called major cities then? God knows).
This conversation is leading nowhere so I'm just gonna stop responding.
> Education? Eh... not really expensive in the US, is it? the US student loan debt is swelling at about $1.5 trillion... and counting. It speaks volume as to how costly education is in the US. 
Education in the US is not unavoidably expensive. Quoting student loan aggregates does nothing to account for the number of students who took tens or hundreds of thousands worth of loans they didn't really need because they rejected an affordable alternative in order to go to their target school.
In 1998 I rejected my target school because attending would have cost me a minimum of $12,000/year out of pocket. I stayed local and graduated with no loans. 21 years later, if I started in 2019, I would still graduate without loans from that same school.
> Healthcare? Hugely expensive for a country as "rich" as the US. Unless, of course, you work for a generous employer and in that case, everything is paid for. Wait a second, I'm told not all employers provide a healthcare plan along with a 401k plan? That's unfortunate. Let's also remind ourselves that the US doesn't provide universal healthcare for all its citizens unlike other advanced industrialized countries. So if you happen to be jobless? You're SOL. Awe-effing-some. Let's move on... 
I don't have rebuttal to this point, but based on your tone I don't think you have any interest in discussing it in good faith anyway.
> Housing? In SF/SV/NYC/Seattle/Washington/any major US city, housing is extremely expensive as is housing in any major European metropolis such as London/Paris/Munich/Zurich. I bet the $300,000 nice house you mention in your comment must be somewhere in the countryside where nobody lives, right? Let's make this clear: houses located in the middle of nowhere in any European country also cost zilch. Let's take France for instance: 30K euros gets you a 100 sqm house (even bigger sometimes) in the Creuse region. Yeah nobody wants to live there but hey at least I can own a large house for the price of a car. 
"You bet" very wrong. The house I used to have in Dallas is worth $275,000 at the moment. Many of the houses in suburban New Jersey are less than $400,000, and some are even less than $300,000. . Less stock in Maryland, but there are still many options.
> I could go on and on. I haven't even touched on other topics such as Internet, groceries, rent or insurance. Your comment comes across as plain ignorant and downward complacent. I don't get this tendency of always sugarcoating the US, as though it would make it magically more appealing to the average Joe to move there.
I'm sure you could, but it would just serve to further demonstrate your bias, condescension, and ignorance.
> Please back up your claims next time with articles or sources. Just use your favourite search engine.
The irony of this snark is that you have done a rather poor job of this yourself.
> In 1998 I rejected my target school because attending would have cost me a minimum of $12,000/year out of pocket. I stayed local and graduated with no loans. 21 years later, if I started in 2019, I would still graduate without loans from that same school.
In 1998. That's really the crux of your comment. As to the costs of your school in 2019, since you haven't provided a link to back it up, I cannot check your claim.
> I don't have rebuttal to this point, but based on your tone I don't think you have any interest in discussing it in good faith anyway.
I have read countless studies online (studies, not just newspaper articles) and have friends who've moved to and/or lived briefly in the US that have experienced it first hand. Sorry for not showing empathy but when one of the richest country in the world isn't able to provide healthcare for all its citizens, I think something is slightly wrong. Worst yet, the babysteps that have been made during the Obama era are now being rolled back by the Repuplican party. And yet, you're pointing fingers at me like I'm the problem. How about a nice warm cup of reality to start the day?
> "You bet" very wrong. The house I used to have in Dallas is worth $275,000 at the moment. Many of the houses in suburban New Jersey are less than $400,000, and some are even less than $300,000. . Less stock in Maryland, but there are still many options.
Fair enough. In that case, I think it's expensive. The same price range gets you a very comfortable flat in Berlin, Germany's capital. 
> I'm sure you could, but it would just serve to further demonstrate your bias, condescension, and ignorance.
Still not OK with reality. That's fine, you'll get used to it. We all do after a while. :-)
lol I'm sorry but no. 400k a year in US puts you in "I am a millionaire" status after like 5 years. 90k euros and big city purchasing power in France is most likely comparable to 180k in US. Remember, all these jobs we are talking about come with full benefits -- 401k with between 5-8% matching, stock options, healthcare, vision, dental, etc.
And I am assuming you are talking about 90k euro after taxes not before because the French have one of the highest tax burdens in the world.
It's worth noting though that it's the US (and Canada to a degree) that is the exception here. It's great that software engineering can be such a boon for talented folks, but everywhere else even the highest SW salaries place people squarely in middle class, alongside teachers and doctors.
It's still a nice life, just not one of abundant riches. Over 4k€ monthly after taxes goes quite far in Europe as you don't need to worry that much about saving for healthcare, pension, and your children's education later in life.
Look, I agree the US system is inefficient, immoral in the aggregate, and generally a bit of a pain to interact with.
But this idea that highly paid professionals in the US have crappy healthcare experiences is just silly. Anyone earning $100k as an employee in the US will have a good health plan that will provide excellent quality of care for a reasonable out of pocket cost.
In fact, this is kind of the problem with the US system! Rich people have a healthcare system that works well for them, they get lots of choice, very fast access to specialists if they want them, and generally rich people are happy with their health care.
This means there's no electoral coalition strong enough to pursue more egalitarian or more efficient systems, they'd all run the risk of appearing worse to the rich people.
I'll concede that one trip to the ER was a bit hyperbole. That fact is though, that medical emergencies have a way to royally screw you over in a way that is unheard of in most European countries.
Personally, with a background in a European country, a personal bankruptcy is something that only happens to the most financially careless/gambling addicted of people. In the US it seems to have become a sad part of a lot of peoples' coping strategy if a medical emergency arises.
Staff Engineers at FAANG typically make 400-500k/pa. What made the difference was a retention grant. I got a competing offer and they gave me millions in stock, which I accepted and stayed. After I was fully vested, I basically got lucky and found another big company that had a department that was doing some pretty undisciplined hiring and brought me in at Senior Staff. I'm not really doing the job at that level, but they don't want me to leave, so we're in stasis. After the initial grant runs out this will stabilize at ~700k.
I don't know how to repeat what I did. I think retention grants are rarer than they used to be. However, once you get to Staff, you have a lot of negotiating leverage. I received multiple offers with initial grants over 2 million.
Build relationships, progress your career, get good at whiteboard interviews, and change jobs more often to make progress.
About three years after graduating I stumbled into some extra freelance work a school friend passed on to me. Then got lucky again by finding myself in a well-paid (for UK) devops niche.
- 2009: £1,000/yr Mostly depressed, unemployed and unmotivated. Some income from teaching English and arbitraging signup bonuses on gambling websites. Lived close to rent-free by subletting rooms in the apartment I was living in. (Spain)
- 2010-12: £8,000/yr English Teacher (China, full-time)
- 2012: £20/hour PHP dev (China, freelance)
- 2012-13: £16,000/yr Rails dev (China, full-time)
- 2014: £72,000/yr Rails dev (London, contracting)
- 2014: £102,000/yr Devops (London, contracting)
- 2015-16: £60/hr Rails+Go dev (SE Asia, some remote freelancing but mostly not working)
* I work with pretty niche enterprise devops software. My Linkedin profile is 100% oriented to selling my skills with that software (Note that there is a real risk that this software will be out-of-fashion in five years)
* I give a proper reply to everyone who contacts me on LinkedIn, even if the work they are offering is totally unrelated to what I can/want to do. The frequent spam is a small price to pay in return for being in everyone's database.
* I'm very upfront with my day-rate and get rejected by most of the recruiters/companies that get in touch with me because it's too high. This is fine and intentional because there is enough demand to get that rate anyway (so far).
I have a few friends in London, contracting whilst working a Single Person Business (lacking the proper terminology). Super high wages £500 - £700 per day, whilst having an effective tax rate or 13%. Boom.
If you pay yourself a salary from a ltd company there's ~14% Employers NI, 12%-2% Employee NI Depending on tax band, 20-40% Income tax depending on tax band. If you pay a dividend there's 19% Corporation tax plus 7.5%-32.5% Dividend tax.
So 46%-56% tax on salary and 26.5%-51.5% tax on dividends. Nowhere near 13%, unless you're talking about 'creative accounting' by running non-business expenses through the company to effectively get them tax free.
- create a company in the Man Island
- You pay yourself the minimum to have ok life style (dividend allowance + progressive tax could make it somewhere around 15% + NI). You move for a year to Singapore, so you are no longer UK tax resident. You close the company.
I don't live in UK anymore and I could do something similar in my location, but I want to pay taxes and my effective rate is good.
Sole traders are different to one-person Ltd companies. As a one-person Ltd, you used to get a lot of tax breaks, but over the last 5-6 years they seem to have been steadily eroded.
Anyone paying a rate as low as 13% now is probably using a borderline-legal grey-area scheme, which is dangerous because HMRC not only hit those folks up for back taxes when they find them, but put fines on top too.
The effective tax rate is closer to 30%+ once you factor in corporation tax but the rest is correct. You incorporate a limited company and take a low salary and rest in dividends.
Though you'll get to higher tax brackets with that pretty quickly too, so will likely want to leave a fair share of revenue in the company (you still need to pay 20% corp tax on profit), or put it into your pension (tax relief on up to £40k/y).
I presume it's because they're contracting? It's the way to cash out in software in the UK, I believe in most companies, contractors get to sidestep the HR/salary budget hierarchy, usually because the company is really desperate, and they tell themselves "they're only temporary, so won't apply salary banding on them"
Some random points of advice after 30 years in tech...
First, decide whether you are more interested in pushing forward on technology or on earning more. Yes, you probably want both, but you should decide which matters more. Also, note that the answer will likely change if your personal situation changes, in particular, if you start a family.
These points are primarily for those who put earning more above pushing technology. I was married early on and that became the priority for me.
- Always work to make your boss successful. There are a variety of advantages to this. First, if you make them successful and they rise in the company, they are more likely to give you a promotion and raise as well. Second, if they change jobs and go to a place you'd like to work, whether it's in one, five, ten years or more, you'll be someone they call when they need to hire. Third, it makes it much easier for them to go to bat for you when you ask for a raise.
Given all of that, it's also important to work for bosses that you want to see succeed. If you really don't like your boss, and you find it distasteful to help them be successful, work towards their success while you look for another boss.
- If you want to earn more, ask for more responsibility. I was married when I was an engineer of 3 years. To earn more, I asked to be made a project lead. I delivered several projects, then asked to be made a manager. I managed several people, then asked for a transfer to start and manage a remote sales and service office. In each case, I was given 30%+ raises.
The point here is that you need to ask. Let your boss and HR know that you want to be considered for promotion. Once you've asked, remind them at more or less regular intervals, perhaps 6 months. You want it to stick in their minds that you are looking to move up and at some point, an opportunity may come up that you'd be on the short list for.
- Change jobs or companies. This is typically the most effective way to get a raise. The key is to look while you're still working. Many people in tech keep their heads down until the company goes through a rough patch and lays off or shuts down. Then, if they don't have runway, they have to take the first position that comes along. If you think you need to move, keep your job and do your search so you can evaluate each opportunity without being under pressure.
- Treat options or other equity as the icing, not the cake. You can be deliberate about accumulating wealth without windfalls by consistently earning more than you spend and conscientiously investing your savings. If you're able to cash in on options, that is great, invest it, buy a home or whatever. But earn what you're worth in cash.
The only thing I've ever seen work to get significantly more money is changing companies. Companies used to give somewhat decent raises 3-8% but outside of that, it doesn't seem to matter what one does. I have a great boss and have been promised raises multiple times. Instead, our CEO cut our vacation in half. The only reason I haven't gone somewhere else is because I work remotely and can put in the most minimal effort. I regret the first few years putting in a lot of effort, getting RSI, solving many problems ... but for what? For nothing. Actually, less than nothing. Due to inflation and vacation taken away, I make less. So I work less. Then people wonder why something like over 80% of workers in the US are disengaged. This is why. Most companies are too cheap to provide proper compensation, vacation, and benefits. Serves them right.
Oh trust me, I went above and beyond. Migrating a live app from mysql to pgsql. ALL the devops work for the entire company, then moving all that infrastructure to Docker and reducing costs so that all our apps run on one cluster of servers. Migrating multiple live apps from one provider to another without downtime. Working late and even weekends. Rewriting a server completely to make it much more robust and less buggy. Rewriting the database and serializer parts of our API because the original coders used super slow implementations. Implementing multiple experiments using various databases to deal with another slow codebase. Dealing with teams of contractors that wrote code so shitty, it would make one cry, it was so horrible. Then having to take charge of their shitty mess because they sure as fuck won't. Saving the company over $100k a year by not using ridiculously priced API gateway services. Bringing in another dev to help out when our other main developer left.
I could go on and on. Any one of those things was above and beyond on its own and I never once got a performance based bonus, let alone a raise. Then we got new management and they rewarded us by cutting our vacation. I am completely unappreciated, or at the very least, that appreciation is not shown in any way that matters. I am, however, no longer at a spot in my life, thankfully, that work defines my life. I still make good money and I focus on other things in my life. I let the execs worry about deadlines and bullshit like that. They can panic and get anxiety all they want, it won't magically get the work done or get it done quicker. As I said, my bosses are decent in all other ways other than appreciating their employees with appropriate compensation / vacation. Who knows, that might change. I'm not holding my breath though.
Totally agree. To add to the point about the boss you do not like. Identify that early and take positive steps to get out of there. One danger in this situation is that this is an incompetent boss (reason you don't like) and you need to get out of the blast radius.
I live in a slightly upper class area in Gurgaon since it's walking distance to my workplace and hence save on commute.
Rent and expenses is almost 30k INR (roundabout $450) a month.
Apart from that it's all takeout food money and any movies or shopping you might do.
My initial pay was a little too low to afford the place I am living at since I'd almost always run out of money by the end of the month and was living paycheck to paycheck. The first raise did improve situations a bit and I could easily save around 10k INR per month.
My current salary affords me very comfortable living with enough to invest for the future and still have around 30k INR per month in savings.
So I had posted this earlier but I'll post again with another update. I'm based out of Toronto.
2012 - small business owner - 60k AED / yr (no taxes) - built Wordpress websites in my spare time
2013 - technical cloud marketing intern - 60k / yr CAD - FAANGish company
2013 - contractor - 30k / yr CAD - Engineering consultancy
2014 - Software Dev Fullstack - 22k / yr CAD - early stage startup
2015 - Lead Software Dev Fullstack / Architect + DevOps - 55k / yr CAD - very early stage startup
2015 - Lead Software Dev Fullstack / Architect + DevOps - 60k / yr CAD - very early stage startup
2016 - Software Dev - 60k / yr CAD - medium stage startup
2016 - Techincal Consultant - 90k / yr CAD - small public company
2017 - Software Engineer + DevOps - 99k / yr CAD - medium public company
2018 - Senior Software Engineer + DevOps + SRE - 120k / yr CAD - medium public company
2019 - Senior Software Engineer + DevOps + SRE - 135k / yr CAD - medium public company
I was in the process of getting promoted and getting a higher raise, but stuff (some in my control and some out of) didn't work out. I've been focusing on my life for a bit.
Thanks for sharing your salary history. I am also located in Toronto and this is my salary history (all CAD):
2014 - Junior System Administrator $42k - fresh graduate, large company
2015 - System Administrator $55k - large company
2016 - DevOps Engineer $80k - startup
2018 - Senior DevOps Engineer $95k - large company
2019 - Site Reliability Engineer $125k - medium-size company
Sorry if this is too much text, but I feel like I have a decent sense about this, since I've been interviewing recently. Of course, we all live in bubbles, and there may be some tech bubbles extremely different from mine.
Your tech stack in a distributed system will often be diverse and wide-ranging. In my opinion, no specific combination of tools is very important for hireability, though commonly recurring characters will certainly help your resume.
I write or work on lots of small services, mostly in Java, some Scala, occasionally Go or Python. The JVM is probably the most popular programming platform for this domain but some companies do without it entirely (Go, Python, Node.js are all somewhat popular).
Most services run in Docker containers on AWS. I feel like almost everyone is in the cloud these days.
There are lots of REST APIs, so you'll want a good handle on HTTP. In my work, even more than HTTP, I've dealt with streaming/realtime data coming over Apache Kafka or AWS Kinesis or AWS SQS. Lots of people use RabbitMQ, but I never have.
And I interface with lots of different data stores - Postgres, S3, Dynamodb, Elasticsearch, Cassandra, Redis. And Zookeeper, more for coordination than storage. Zookeeper is fun, but very niche.
In terms of building a resume to get hired in this domain, these are some things you want:
- Be able to work in a few languages and with several data stores. Be able to talk about which kind of DB is appropriate for what use.
- Demonstrate proficiency in concurrent programming and asynchrony via multithreading/futures/promises/channels or whatever the relevant constructs on your platform of choice are.
- Have used some kind of streaming solution or message queue (kafka is neat and widely used, if don't already have one in mind)
- Have experience with provisioning and orchestration on a cloud platform (AWS, GCP, Azure,...)
- Be able to talk about tools and techniques for monitoring, alerting, and tracing in systems where a request or a stream element must traverse many services.
- Be able to talk about typical distributed-systems challenges at a conceptual level:
* Why and how to partition your data, both in a stream and at rest
* How to avoid or resolve consistency issues, when and how to trade consistency for availability, coordinations strategies, CRDTs
* At-least-once processing, at-most-once, exactly-once, idempotency, why you would want each - how and when you can achieve each.
As a side note, I feel like, once you've built a decent distributed system or application, it's easy to make it look good on a resume. Either it's a high-throughput system and you can say you processed X thousands of requests per second with no downtime for a year, or else it's low throughput and you can double down on the fault-tolerance bit "even when we deliberately crashed half of the servers, the service remained available and end-to-end latency was only reduced by X amount". Of course, you need measure some stuff in order to have numbers to brag about. But hopefully you're collecting those metrics anyway.
I feel slightly motivated, but mostly crushed by these crazy TC levels.
Although I know I'm doing fairly decent for myself, as someone who is very critical of my own progress or lack of, it feels very disheartening to see people my age making 10x what I am, simply because they are located in SV, doing the same work.
In my area, short of being extremely fortunate to land some amazing fully-remote job, there is not one tech company that pays out anywhere close to 300k+ TC, unless you are in senior leadership or just consulting/doing work on the side.
I understand the reasons for the big disparity, but still... feels bad man.
Right there with you. I’m doing pretty decent, making 85k but straight out of college. At a nice start up in a big city. But 800k at Netflix? Good god.. I should mention I’m ‘straight out of college’ at 27, so that’s contributing, too.
I would not get depressed, you're talking about an extremely small audience of developers in the field. If anything I'd look at it with aspiration, you're reading up on hackernews and you're straight out of college at a startup. Keep hustling no idea where you'll end up, I assume netflix is not paying kids out of college 800K :D
Honest question has anyone else seen salary decreases. I peaked at ~190k w2 contractor so no benefits. But after death march after death march and canceled projects. I got down to ~105. One of my biggest stress right now is due to money. Contributed to by a foreclosure that has a monthly payment. I've been east and west coast and tried FAANG, but unless I waited the vesting it was a drastic pay cut, and the midst of the foreclosure I needed hard cash. I keep on looking at my career and wondering what I did wrong.
I have. My gross is now about one-third of what it was a few years ago. Briefly, a really ugly divorce that I didn't see coming pretty much sucked the life out of me.
I'm inferring that you have a family to support. (If it's just you, I'd seriously consider declaring bankruptcy.) I can relate. For what it's worth, this can be the lot of men in our society. I don't think it's an indication that you did anything wrong. Good luck.
I had made a comment in another thread, where I think my education hurt me, associates. I took about a 50K pay cut up front to go a FAANG. That came with a demotion as well. So I can see the pay cut not equaling responsibility. But I was in a immediate position and didn't have a choice to say no.
A certain number of shares of stock are set aside for you. When they "vest", that means you get them.
The vesting schedule varies, but probably the most common arrangement is that you get 1/4 of the shares per year for the next 4 years. Often you get nothing until you've been there for a year, then get a whole year's worth of stock in one big lump sum, and then get smaller amounts more frequently thereafter.
In the US, the stock is taxed as ordinary income on the day you get it. If its price goes up before you sell it, you also pay capital gains tax on the change in price that happened while you were holding it. (I sell all my stock immediately on general principle, so my capital gains taxes are tiny.)
2008: Base $90K, Total $110K
2009: Base $110K, Total $170K
2010: Base $130K, Total $330K
2011: Base $200K, Total $590K
2012: Base $220K, Total $680K
2013: Base $220K, Total $830K
2014: Base $230K, Total $980K
2015: Base $240K, Total $990K
2016: Base $250K, Total $1.2M
2017: Base $250K, Total $1.4M
2018: Base $265K, Total $1.5M
2019: Base $280K
Total includes bonus and equity (which makes up the bulk of it, especially in later years). So some of the increases are also just reflecting increases in GOOG from grant to vesting.
I'm a software engineer. My impression is that pay for PMs (product managers) is very similar, although I couldn't say for sure. Not sure about other positions. And for QA specifically, I believe a lot are hired through a vendor so I imagine it would be very different.
I don't know if I have particularly useful advice. I think honestly it's a mix of happening to be good at what I do, working hard, and being in the right place at the right time (both in terms of ending up Google and being on the teams/projects that I did which helped me rise quickly).
The only thing I would say is that I very much did not go in expecting this or with the idea of optimizing for it. When I joined at the end of 2007, Google was already post-IPO and it wasn't clear (to me at least) that there was "big bucks" to be made there. At that time, it seemed like going into finance or to a startup was the way to go to optimize for that, and I thought I was leaving a bunch on the table picking Google over those. I do think it helped working with the mindset of doing what I truly enjoyed instead of "doing it for the money".
For me at least, there was little correlation between level and pure number of hours worked. In general, I probably worked the most hours in the first year, mostly because I was just out of college and didn't know any better. These days, I would say I probably average around ~50 hours a week.
But there is definitely more "stress" as you go up levels. You have more responsibility, the problems get harder and more ambiguous, more people issues to deal with, etc. Part of me misses the "L3/L4 me", when all I really had to do was come in, work on relatively scoped technical problems, and not worry about a lot else. But I think I'd also probably feel bored after a while if I somehow managed to went back to that.
In the spirit of this discussion, I’ll share my journey. In 2015, my base was $95k. Today, it is $150k. Including stocks and bonuses, my total compensation went from ~$140k to $220k. In California, but not the Bay Area. I hold a Bachelor’s from a pretty good university, but by no means an elite institution.
White guy from a modest background: grew up lower middle class, single mother who worked in retail, got free lunch, etc.
It feels odd to have moved and basically move up the economic totem poll to what I guess I’d call upper middle class. Life for people who stayed where I grew up is quite different than my life now.
Every source I can find (2014-2018 data from a variety of places) puts it between 97th and just over 98th; probably hasn't changed more than a couple of points since.
> I do not know what upper middle class is supposed to mean. Does it mean 90-95 percentile?
If by “middle class” one means petit bourgeoisie, then 95th to 99.something percentile for the upper range of that class is fairly reasonable; the haut bourgeoisie are a very narrow slice, and economic classes in that classic sense have overlapping income ranges, because they are more about how one relates to the economy than income level, though the two are correlated.
OTOH, the language of economic class these days is used in many murky and inconsistent ways.
EDIT: Just to be clear, the classic idea of the petit bourgeoisie as the middle economic class of capitalist societies does not mean that they represent the average or some range around the average; the working class makes up the vast majority, the haut bourgeoisie (the class of major capitalists) is a tiny slice that controls most of the wealth, and the petit bourgeoisie are a fairly thin (though much broader than the haut bourgeoisie), largely relatively rich class that is “middle” in the sense of deriving income from a mix including both a substantial contribution from personal labor (the predominant support for the working class) and a substantial contribution from personal capital (the predominant support for the haut bourgeoisie)—the classic example of that mix being the independent small business owner whose labor is applied to their own capital rather than either being rented out to some capitalist, or gaining returns on capital by renting others labor to apply to it.
It has to be adjusted for the metro area. An income of 250k puts one in the top 1% nation wide but maybe top 6-3% in San Francisco. Just like how a $1M home is expensive in most of the rest of the country but a bargain in SF, NYC, etc.
I don't have an answer for the question but I remember watching a series of recorded interviews with Americans from all walks of life and all described themselves as middle class, from the poorest to the wealthiest.
50mil/year passive income puts u at the billionaire level. Obviously they are not going to describe themselves middle class. I do believe the commenter is referring to people making 200-1000k+ and still calling themselves middle class.
I didn’t totally flush this out, but I don’t feel upper middle class in the conventional sense since I’m used to simple living. The two cars, white picket fence lifestyle isn’t me. But by raw income numbers, it certainly places me there.
It all sort of feels relative. If a “beginner” single family bungalow costs 850k+ in my neighborhood, home ownership still feels like a gamble (well, the accompanying debt burden would make me uncomfortable). A $4k mortgage payment does not sound fun if I were to lose my job, for example.
The economic definition of middle class is very different from how people identify themselves. In the US, unless you have enough wealth to live like a celebrity most high earners identify themselves as Upper Middle Class.
The cost of maintaining your Upper Middle Class status is very high: tuition for elite, private schools, mortgages on giant homes and vacation homes, leases on luxury cars to keep up with the neighbors, and the desire to live in high-cost exclusive communities, etc.
Because of all of the above, people that should be "rich" if you look at where they are on an income distribution graph, actually do not feel "rich." So they identify as Upper Middle Class.
I'd guess his idea of upper class is people with mansions and yachts. 220K isn't enough for that in California (but it is in other places in the US). I think in California that gets you a nice house outside of the most expensive areas and whatever kind of car you want to drive, and maybe private schools for your kids if you want that.
I feel very, very lucky. I did graduate from college, just not with a degree that I currently use.
I stumbled upon programming as a senior and loved it. While at the start up, it was easy for me to spend hours a day outside of work learning because I loved every minute of of it. But it came at the cost of hobbies and a friendship. I wouldn't describe myself as motivated by money and don't tell my family and close friends how much I make.
So it's possible in tech, without a degree at all(OP says he has an unrelated degree)? I keep reading horror stories online of people with degrees, internships/experience, hackathons, projects, all that under their belt having a hard time in their careers. And also a lot of naysayers saying you can't make it far without a degree.
So it's possible in tech, without a degree at all(OP says he has an unrelated degree)? I keep reading horror stories online of people with degrees, internships/experience, hackathons, projects, all that under their belt having a hard time in their careers. And also a lot of naysayers saying you can't make it far without a degree.
I grew up in Europe (Malta), now in Seattle. I think Dublin is the place to be for tech opportunities and competitive compensation. If you work for a US company you can transfer from the EU to the US with an L1B visa quite easily (it’s what I did) as long as the company you work for is okay with the transfer. The L1B expires after 5 years, but you can apply for permanent resident while on it.
I grew up in Europe and now live in Seattle. I'd agree with @DVassallo about Dublin being a good jumping off point.
Moving over to the US typically requires a corporate sponsor for L-1, and you must work 12+ months for them overseas before they can petition to transfer you to the US, or winning the H-1B lottery.
I think the cost to relocate someone to the US is between $50-100k depending on what benefits they offer employees. Therefore you need to consider the companies motivation - why would they spend that money, and increase their payroll cost by having you in a more expensive market?
You need to be a good investment for them.
Additionally, I think it's _also_ worth noting that FB E7+ and the equivalent roles at AMZN and GOOG which pay $1MM+ are typically 1-3% of engineers in the company, and for every person making $1MM+ there are many making much less.
Finally when you're a 'visa slave' (here on a corporate-sponsored visa which doesn't give you an option to quit and find another employer, the L-1 is an example of this) there's less motivation for the US entity to pay you extraordinary amounts of money.
I don't mean to discourage you. I do think it's worth noting this is a hard road to travel. Some luck is involved too.
Created new account to share since my other could easily trace back to me...
Maybe this isn’t super relevant since this is mostly about tech but I’ve found my technology skills are what contribute to give me a huge advantage, even in finance.
All figures in USD. All finance jobs are in research.
23: 50k - tech consulting business
23: 90k - same. Relocate to NYC
24: 110k - negotiated at consulting company
24: 160k = 110k + 50k bonus - move to financial company
25: 200k = 110k + 90k bonus
26: 210k = 120k + 90k bonus
27: 150k - joined small team starting new business in finance
Wowza, hard not to look at these things and feel twinges of jealousy. It's hard to stay grounded in what the important things in life are....
United States - have perfect SAT and ACT scores, went through university for free
Age 21-28 - Work in NGOs, non-profits - $25k
Age 28 Finish Masters degree
Age 29-32 - Work in NGOs and non-profits and policy analysis - $32k
Age 32-34 - Suicide Counselor - $35k
Age 35 - Bootcamp - become Rails developer -$60k
Age 36 - $65k
Age 37 - ask for raise $80k
Age 38 - $85k
Age 39 - Senior developer/manage projects/do mentoring/keep coding - $90k
Age 40 - $92k
Based on these it seems like 5+ years of experience on the backend and frontend with multiple stacks and the ability to manage 4+ engineers, keep backlogs groomed, talk to clients to manage expectations and translate requirements into usr stories and acceptance crtieria, etc should be more than $95k - and yet $95k still seems high for a developer anywhere outside of the US
"Privilege is a large part of the equation; the privilege to not care; the privilege to be a white dude in an industry that (either intentionally or unintentionally) caters to white dudes. Yes, this reflects playing the game on easy mode. I have no doubts there. I’m writing that it’s not enough because I am too privileged to be able to see what non-white dudes should do. So if you’re a white dude reading this, make it better for everyone by not being cheap on compensation (and recognize any potential bias or privilege you may have)."
- what a cringy statement. an industry that caters to white dudes. literaly the CEO of the biggest software company name on earth is an indian. the CEO of one of the top chipmakers on earth is an asian woman and a big chunk of engineers are from china and india but ok whatever. what does the end of the statement means? if you are not white you can be cheap on compensation?
I see a lot of these crazy high salaries (there's nothing much higher than $150 for a sr dev around here on the east) are in SF area.
Are these the exception FAANG salaries or are most companies paying such high salaries out there? It just blows my mind I can't imagine making such money as a dev and I've been doing this for a lot of years.
Median total compensation at FB is $240K and at Google $197K as per SEC filings. Folks with $1M figures are probably in top 3-5% in these companies. I would also add that if you are in bay area with $240K total comp and have family, your standard of living is probably not all that enviable.
Currently taking a break from my PhD, although I plan to finish it one day. Here's my salary progression as a CS researcher in Silicon Valley:
2015: $104k (worked in an R&D lab for an enterprise company)
2016: $106k (laid off at the end of the year as part of reorg)
2017: $115k + $10k bonus (short stint as a SRE at a famous company that unfortunately didn't go very well....)
2018: Consultant at a startup for $120/hr. Unfortunately this opportunity didn't last. Ended up taking a research internship.
2019: $95k (promoted to full-time researcher)
I love my current job; in fact, it's one of the best I've had. But Silicon Valley is a very expensive place, and I'm wondering if there are opportunities to do CS research in industry outside of Silicon Valley.
Without knowing your skills, there's a good chance you've just been working for the wrong companies. There are lots of companies in Canada that pay absolute garbage to software engineers. And if you don't have the skills that higher-paying companies look for (mainly coding+algorithms+data structures in interviews), you can get that without going to college. Also look into working remotely for US companies.
The company I worked for was a software shop. Most people there were developers.
I don't really have algorithms and data structure skills. I almost never have to do these things in real life. I have done mostly front-end stuff (web and mobile). Should I go all-in on LeetCode? Will that guarantee a good paying job?
It seems like 4 more years without income to get a bachelor's degree would be worth it considering the crazy compensations people are sharing here. I would earn more in 2 years there than I did in my entire career here.
If you can solve a leetcode medium in an hour _and_ get a work visa in the US, then you can easily double or triple that salary. Just throwing this out there: grinding interview problems sucks but it's the best thing you can do for your income in industry these days.
That starts at $60,000 (CAD) and it's not clear what kind of experience is necessary to waive the requirements for an undergraduate degree. They say that experience + unrelated undergraduate degree (with excellent grades) can be sufficient. I'm not sure that 6 years as a front-end developer will cut it.
I'm still not sure whether that degree alone (without a bachelor's degree) is sufficient to get a work visa in the US (they generally ask for a 4-year degree).
> However, more extensive experience may compensate for a lack of formal qualifications, and a strong, immediately-relevant qualification may compensate for a lack of professional experience.
You have the “more extensive experience”.
I would be surprised if a Master’s degree did not suffice in place of a Bschelor’s. I doubt you would be asked to submit the latter if you submitted the former. To be certain you could spend one or two hundred dollars on a consultation with an immigration lawyer.
They will be more than happy to tell you how you can get a legitimate, regionally accredited US Bachelor’s degree in under one year. It involves doing many, many tests like CLEP, AP, DSST etc. and using job experience to get proof of prior learning before eventually matriculating at a university willing to accept a great deal of transfer credit.
Grinding leetcode or similar things would probably work if you have the right work ethic. You could also consider a coding bootcamp like Lambda School. Way cheaper/less time than a 4-year degree, and they have much better job placement programs. (And will probably teach you the skills needed to pass an interview better than most 4-year undergrad programs would.)
If you can code you really don’t need to go to college. It sounds to me like you need to go on a serious job hunt. You can probably find a better match for you that would be fun to work at, especially if you’re willing to relocate.
It’s true that a big part of my comp was in stock, but I only meaningfully gained from stock appreciation in 2017 and 2018. In the other years stock appreciation accounted for only $5-$15K. I sold all my stock as soon as it vested, so I sold a lot at $200, $300, $400... etc. Even in 2017, I got it at all under $1000. Now it’s $1700.
I was just in the right place, right time. Ten years ago my target was to make $100K/year by 2020. Never would have I imagined these amounts were even possible. But once I attained a basic level of financial security, additional income stopped mattering for my satisfaction. It’s one of the reasons I left, despite everything was going well by every traditional measure.
I work in Canada government on Java ee for 3 years, worked on other legacy application on cobol etc earlier for 10 years. I have undergrad in CS. What technology can I learn to level up my salary with current market standards? I will appreciate any other advice to get up to those level.
I got a big bump in 2016 because I got a competing offer from Oracle, and Amazon matched it. 2017 and 2018 growth was from stock appreciation. If the stock hadn’t increased so much, the last 2 years would have been at around the 2016 level. AFAIK, people with ~10 years experience commonly get offers at around my 2016 level.
I was wondering about that. I mean when I was at Sun they paid a market wage and had an employee stock purchase plan. When I left Sun in '95 the stock I had left was worth about $1.2M, it had gone from the $20's to over a $100 and split twice (if you do the math that was $60,000 worth of stock to begin with, which had accumulated over about 6 years).
I don't think of my wages being $1.2M so much as I happened to get lucky with that equity. (I have also experienced the reverse where > $1M worth (on paper) of stock was worth less than $10K when I could sell it, it isn't all roses.)
But ~$500K is the market rate right now. Several people I know got that amount at Google, Facebook, and Oracle here in Seattle with ~10 years experience in cloud or AI/ML. Amazon’s stock increase has inflated the market rates because other companies had to pay so much in the last 3 years for people to leave Amazon. Obviously there’s no guarantee that this will last forever, but I was pretty confident I would have continued to make $500K/year as long as the market conditions remained the same. I also had enough unvested RSUs until end of 2020 to make that much.
I understand what you are saying, and when you sell stock that vests it is completely reasonable to count it as income as it shows up on your W2.
My point was that just prior to the dot com crash I had over $6M in "RSUs" (well restricted stock which was a better deal since the number can't be fudged but what ever) and when it "vested" it was worth less than $12K. It showed up on my W2 because I used an 83b election to vest it all up front (and get in on a lower tax rate when it unlocked) only to have it generate losses when it unlocked.
Where I was going was that there is 'base pay' which you are going to get if you show up every day and don't get fired, and there is 'variable pay' which can come in the format of annual bonuses and or vesting equity. The annual bonuses tend to be something of a beauty contest and so can be hard to predict, and the market can swing wildly (hopefully nobody with RSUs today has to experience a 99.9% drop in value that I did during the dot com crash but it can happen, you could have had Theranos RSUs for example).
The original author went out of their way to stick with just base pay and I understood their reasons for doing so as I largely agree with them on the lack of predictability of other remuneration options.
At these levels it's all variable since practically all compensation is in stock. If you're not good enough to be given stock, you'll likely get fired. Everyone's base at Amazon is capped at $160K, including the CEO and the execs making $20M/year. When the stock dipped from $400 to $290 in 2014, Amazon topped us up mid-year to make up for the shortfall. Otherwise people would have left. Obviously if another bubble/recession like 2001 or 2008 happened again, the whole market would likely shrink and people would get less RSUs and they would be worth less. But they'd have to settle for that since the opportunities elsewhere would also presumably go away.
This is less a direct question and more of a discussion: I always thought it was considered a bad move to stick with your old company after receiving a competing offer and negotiating a higher wage at your old company. Conventional wisdom I've read is that your old company will slowly phase you out (thus missing out on promotions/raises).
Have other people been so successful using an offer for a raise at your original employer and staying?
I have never retaliated against employees who gave me competing offers; some times I haven't been able to meet them and they left, but every time I did meet them, people stayed.
The people who stayed basically pulled forward a stock grant that was coming anyway, and increased this year's raise while decreasing it a fair bit for the next two years.
I've always been explicit that this is what's happening; the area under the income curve does end up larger, but not by a large amount. Of course the option value of having a grant vs. hoping for a grant is worth something, too.
DVassallo's $160k bump across one year's W2 is much larger than I've ever seen granted.
At big companies I don't think that happens. Everyone understands that everybody is there for a temporary period. In my case, I think only about 3 people knew about this, and I believe they genuinely wanted me to stay.
5 years experience at one of the leading cloud companies (AWS, Azure, Google) will very likely put you right in that market. Nothing special to join. It’s very hard to enter directly as an SDE-3 (or equivalent) without having experience at one of the big companies. I think in 8 years at Amazon I’ve only seen 1 person doing that. With a phd and some work experience you can likely join as an SDE-2 and get to an SDE-3 level in about 5 years. The exact timing depends a bit on the opportunities you’d find, but I’d say that’s definitely very realistic. I can put you in touch with a recruiter from Amazon if you’re interested. My email is in my profile.
Base salary was $160K since 2014. But why? The stock part ended up as money in my bank. These aren’t stock options like startups give. Public companies like to pay with stock because it didn’t impact their cash flow. The shareholders pay for it via dilution.
If you don’t, you need to ask the question: if I had a pile of cash to invest, would I use it to purchase my company’s stock given that the stock price snd my employment opportunities there are at least loosely correlated?
I’m working for myself. I’m exploring some ideas right now. My target is to have something on the market by around May, and then keep iterating/changing based on market feedback. Going to live off my savings until my work can cover my family’s expenses. I’m hoping that happens before I run out of savings.
I live in Seattle (high cost of living area) and have 2 small kids (2 & 4). Just housing and insurance (health, life, disability, etc) are $84K/year. That’s before food and utilities. My total expenses are about $150K. I start with a round $1M in liquid savings, so it’s about 5.5 years of runway. There’s more detail about my finances in this post for those curious: https://danielvassallo.com/from-employee-to-bootstrapper/
Yes, it’s more expensive with a family. The cheapest health insurance from Obamacare was $15K/year, with a $14K decidable. I live in a 2,500 sqft 3-bed townhouse and all housing costs are $64K/year (mortgage, HOA, and insurance). Then I have another $5K for life, disability, umbrella, and auto insurance.
No. But I'm not optimizing my life to make as much money as possible. I'd like to work on my own terms, doing things that intrinsically motivate me. If I can do that while covering my family expenses, I think I would have improved my life.
Yes. I'm self taught. Plenty of self taught people at Amazon, with non-CS degrees, or no degrees at all. That definitely won't be a blocker.
My advice would be to not try to seek satisfaction from "earning as much as possible"... because "as much as possible" is an unreachable destination. I worked with lots of unhappy people earning $350K/year because they felt they should be doing $500K. How do you think they'll feel once they're making $500K? I bet they'll still be miserable because one person they know is their age and making $600K. And so on. Same with promotions and job titles. Once you clear a certain level of financial security (bills on autopay, some savings), more income stops mattering for satisfaction.
I have this mental hurdle I cant seem to get over, I keep reading about how there are engineers at FAANGs purely self taught but then im also reading about people with degrees, bootcamps, internships under their belts having a hard time getting hired.
What advice do you have for me? If im self taught how do i even get my foot in the door with amazon? How do I have them even consider me for an interview? Anecdotally speaking how did you and your self taught peers do it? Was it projects? Or work experience at less exclusive companies?
To get in all you need is to clear the technical and behavioral interview. I participated in over 300 interviews, and not once was education ever brought up as a factor. Amazon in Seattle hires hundreds of people a week, and there's plenty of openings in other places. Just find a position you think is a good fit and apply. If you know someone working there it'd be good to get a referral, but it's not required. I just applied from their website in 2010, and I started 3 weeks later.
I can’t speculate on mindset or motivation, but based on purely financials I’d have suggested sticking it out for a few more years to build up a larger nest egg. It’s not just the risk of not succeeding at your next venture; there’s the follow up risk that after failure you can’t get back in the game where you left off.
That said, best of luck to you. Fortune favors the brave!
Assuming DV was able to save a good% of their money and get a reasonable return on it, their nest egg could easily be a couple million today. After taxes etc another 3 years might only grow that 10-15%.
Yes, staying another year wouldn’t have made a big difference. My net worth is around $1.4M with $1M in liquid savings. In the last 2 years I added ~$200K per year in savings. I just didn’t want to keep postponing. Otherwise there’s always a reason to wait another year or two.
These salaries sound astronomical compared to earning potential in UK companies. As an Architect, average salaries are around £64,000. Does anyone know how like for like roles pay in the UK for US companies? I can't see Amazon paying £200k for a software developer?
I guess my pithy answer is I've never got tired of learning. Four straightforward steps that you've no doubt heard before, but I can confirm they do the trick:
Establish internal credibility. That is, the confidence to speak credibly on a given subject, be it a platform or tool, a technique, a concept, a prediction. Roll your sleeves up and get dirty coding. Even on-rails tutorials force your brain to make the connection between the concepts and the technical reality. Especially for Big Data and ML/DL workloads. Put this all on a public repo. Search GH for relevant repos, fork them, and code walk them - especially Python/R/Scala scripts. Compete on Kaggle, that's obvious. Answer questions on SO, and attempt to replicate problems you find on SO yourself - this yields a lot of benefits, as most SO questions are edge cases. Join the user communities and help forums for popular platforms and read the newest entries - again, you learn the most from others actually practicing in the space. And still an extremely effective technique is to just directly search for e.g. "Spark shuffle joins" on Google and look for real people with real opinions - that you can then test yourself in an environment. When you've already read the blog post or watched the YouTube video or taken the Udacity course the guy across the table is talking about - you really establish credibility.
Teach others what you know. True trial by fire; share what you've learned. You'll learn how to overprepare, communicate and speak plainly, connect with those different than you in personality, behavior and skill, read rooms, provide feedback, take criticism, and most importantly - you'll really, really learn the ins and outs of the material.
Read voraciously. I skim-consume about 25 books a month using my company's Safari subscription; have built up a pretty good "reading recommender" system of Twitter users, subreddits, aggregators, blogs, etc; And not just technical books - books on business strategy, behavioral economics and psych, industry-specific blogs and journals - if you can't explain what you're doing in terms of risk, dollars, or time, you're doing it wrong. (Also a good life pro tip: download every interesting thing you read into a single repo and put a crawler on top of them. Even if you don't know the answer, you know you've read it somewhere and can retrieve it.)
Learn from others. Reading is great, in-person is better, mentoring is the best. Reach out to everyone in the field. Ask them (like you just did to me) what they're reading, what they did, ask follow up questions, share what you're doing with them. I find keeping a list of "questions you'd like to ask" while you're working through material (especially on industry/business) to be invaluable when you meet someone who can potentially answer them.
These days I spent probably 15-20 hours a week just reading, learning, doing, in prep for the 20-30 hours a week I spend educating, communicating, and (hopefully) selling.
One thing to add: I usually am focusing on 2 things at a time, no more, no less. If you can combine them, even better - learn Kafka for streaming and Grafana to visualize it; learn Azure SQL DW or Redshift for distributed DW and Spark for processing; etc.
My real evolution came when I realized I was happy being the dumbest person in the room, and that curiosity is a superpower.
Wow, thank you for all that. I really appreciate the advice. I appreciate the time you took into typing all that out.
I have some follow up questions if you don't mind:
>have built up a pretty good "reading recommender" system of Twitter users, subreddits, aggregators, blogs, etc;
How can I do this? I follow a bunch of influential people in tech and VC last I logged into Twitter, is this what you're talking about? One of my favorite Twitter users is @patrickc, he always has book recommendations.
Any other tips or advice to better optimize my twitter feed?
>And not just technical books - books on business strategy, behavioral economics and psych, industry-specific blogs and journals - if you can't explain what you're doing in terms of risk, dollars, or time, you're doing it wrong.
Any suggestions? Book suggestions for business strategy, behavioral economics, and psych? I'm into these books too but sometimes it's hard to see the concrete connection it might have to my day to day dealings.
>(Also a good life pro tip: download every interesting thing you read into a single repo and put a crawler on top of them. Even if you don't know the answer, you know you've read it somewhere and can retrieve it.)
Sorry, I'm not THAT technically savvy, is there a tutorial or video i can gleam to learn this? It sounds super helpful because I do have a habit of referring back to something I learned online because its in one of many bookmark folders in my browser.
>These days I spent probably 15-20 hours a week just reading, learning, doing, in prep for the 20-30 hours a week I spend educating, communicating, and (hopefully) selling.
What are you selling exactly?
>One thing to add: I usually am focusing on 2 things at a time, no more, no less. If you can combine them, even better - learn Kafka for streaming and Grafana to visualize it; learn Azure SQL DW or Redshift for distributed DW and Spark for processing; etc.
This is good advice, I think. I'm attempting it right now. By focusing on learning java and selenium. Do you ever feel FOMO about what you're not learning or reading though? Any way to combat that?
My degree was in literature, and my dev experience was very basic. The company I was at before the bootcamp used git, but did not use classes, SOLID, unit tests, some sort of CI/CD pipeline or build tools. My resume was only getting very basic experience, so I decided to speed it up a little, especially since I was starting my dev career at 28 or 29.
I have a bachelors degree in Math & CS from a mid tier state university.
2012 - 85k Big Co in NJ
2013 - 90k Big Co in NJ
2014 - 95k Big Co in NJ
2015 - 65k Startuo in NJ
2016 - 75k Startup in NJ
2017 - 100k Big Co in NJ
2018 - 100k Big Co in NJ
2019 - 130k Big Co in Dallas
What i found in my experience:
1)Interviewing is a skill in itself, do it regularly
2)When interviewing, interview for multiple jobs so you can negotiate better
3)There a max and a min that the company has in mind for a particular position, if they like you enough to offer you a job they will be willing to negotiate. To find out max and min, see roughly what those type of jobs offer in your area. I've found that if you are NOT working in cities in NYC, SF, Boston, then for an senior engineer (i.e 7+ years experience), the range is around 110-140. There is almost a hard cap for IC engineers in non major cities to around 150-160k.
I am a little hazy of the old figures, but they are roughly correct:
1997 £12,500 - Visual Basic Developer - Small B2B company in South West England
1998 £14,000 - as above
1999 £15,000 - as above
1999 £17,000 - as above
2001 £14,000 (6 month contract) Visual Basic - Advertising Agency in London
late 2001 unemployed for 6 months - dot com crash!
2002 £21,000 Visual Basic/PHP - South England
2013 £32,000 same company, just steady salary progression
During that period I also did some freelance Rails development. Maybe earning extra £3,000 to £8,000 each year.
2014 £20,000 Quit full time work. Part-time Rails developer
2015 £20,000 Part-time Rails developer
2016 ¥6,500,000 Rails Developer - Japan
2017 ¥6,565,000 Rails Developer - Japan
2018 ¥6,565,000 Rails Developer - Japan
I have an associates degree in an unrelated field.
For work, I implemented and maintain part of the CI/CD pipeline (AWS Code Pipeline configuration, pretty simple), spin up and maintain AWS infrastructure, hack on the cloud formation templates and our internal build scripts, and do a portion of the helpdesk admin work for some of our large clients. Troubleshoot individual nodes. I work remotely in a small town in the US with a relatively mid-low cost of living.
I make 67k/year. I feel like my needs are met. My work/life balance is great as no one gives me any crap for sticking to a regular work day. I'm not supporting a family or anything. I'm able to contribute 15% to 401k. Otherwise, I'm not quite paycheck to paycheck, but close.
Looking at some of your salaries, I feel envious. I'm not sure my skill set demands more but maybe it does? I don't know if I should feel underpaid. I also don't want big heavy golden handcuffs.
keep your resume up-to-date every month (seriously, was great advice I got early on, even though I sometimes lapse myself).
and I know most people advising on salary negotiations say never give your number first... but if you are happy where you are, then it's going to take 30-50% over what you're making to make you move. So give that number. It weeds most recruiters out.
The ones that bite, you know they're serious. Then it's up to the role, company, commute, etc, the things that make a difference for you.
Golden handcuffs are a good problem to have. Wherever you go, just make sure you can make a difference and have some autonomy to make the work interesting.
From these data points/my experience, the only semi-repeatable way you'll make $350k+ money as salary is senior FAANG employee based in the US (comp outside the US for the same FAANG positions is usually way less), senior position in finance in a good bonus year, or contracting working your butt off for multiple clients
Thanks for sharing. My takeaway is that I'm happy to know that east coast co's are willing to go to that $180K+ level. Would be much more interested at that level on the east coast (e.g., VA) as opposed to an AirBnB level ($250K+) in SV.
Companies in NYC and Boston will go well above $200k for senior people. I'd estimate salaries in each of those markets is only ~10-15% below SVBA. Obviously they have much higher cost of living than VA or most other places. Having Google, Facebook, etc. open large offices has brought up salaries a lot.
it depends on what kind of growth you want and what terminal level you are able to sit at. If you want to be an IC (individual contributor), then it many positions in FAANG cap out around $300K unless you do crazy shit. Moving into technical leadership (either manager or principal) is the key to the next level.
2016: Contractor with full employee benefits, remote, python, startup - $75k/year. Small bonus after the startup was bought.
2018: two remote contracts. Working 6 days a week for 12h. After taxes and all my expenses - I live very comfortable lifestyle - I was saving for retirement 10k USD a month.
Now: 81k$/year. 9-to-5, remote, python. I live in central Europe, so I save up about 40% for my retirement. Not sure how to invest money, most likely I'll start my own start up and copy something from US.
My life is really great. I wouldn't trade it for 250k+ Silicon Valley job.
Here's my fairly unusual salary progression, since we're all sharing:
• 2011 — $80k at a startup in CA, a year out of college
• 2012 — $90k, and we got acquired by an industry big fish
• 2013 — $90k, but got laid off in the middle of the year
• 2013 through 2018 — making random software, traveling, and using up my savings; made some money, but not enough to count as "salary" in any real sense
• 2018 — $240k ($180k base) as a senior SWE at a FAANG
Given my long stretch of being a software ronin, I didn't expect to get what I got in 2018, but I did my research (mostly on Blind), asked for what I wanted, and then asked for a little more on top when I realized that I was selling myself short.
My degree surely helped, but what got my foot in the door was a particularly interesting project I worked on the year before.
As for salary, it depends on the company. In many places, this number would indeed be low. (See Netflix with its $300-$400k starting salaries.) At my company, it's maybe on the low-mid of the scale for employees who've had my position for a few years. (Last I checked, the range is approx. $200-$300k TC.) However, I considered it a very high offer indeed, given the large "gap" and general lack of corporate experience on my resume. I actually got in one level higher than I thought I would. (Though I've since come to realize that it was definitely the right slot for me.)
This is great. It would be beneficial to also see other forms of compensation including bonus at a minimum, RSUs, etc. Sometimes a dip in salary might be explained by these other factors, so it might tell a more complete story.
19 - co-op while in well known lower end of 1st tier (not top 5) engr school - 16k/yr
20 - internship at big 5 consulting firm in NYC - 45k/yr (summer only)
21 - full time at same firm - 61k-ish
22-5 some small raises
26 - move to mid size well known federal gov consulting firm in DC - 76k/yr
27-28 - some raises to 86-90k
28 - smaller/mid consulting firm - 125k
28-33 - raises through to 175k
change to independent, and hourly rates, but will list the following as yearly; however from this point, I have to pay my own taxes, insurance, retirement, etc. still better off however, as taxes are lower compared to salary/employee, and rates are higher.
34 - 200k
35 - 260k
36 - 265k
37 - 280k
38 - 300k
39 - 285k
40 - 280k
Last couple years are the same rate, but working fewer hours to enjoy work-life balance.
I feel I got lucky in a way. Along the way I met one small company owner that I worked with on project to bring in some of their developers onto my team. A few years later they were looking for a contractor. Right at that time another coworker bluntly told me that I was way undervalued and literally gave me an hourly rate that they felt I could easily ask for. I asked for even a little more ;-) And got it!
The work is _exactly_ the same. Again, lucky. The logistics of starting the company can be facilitated with a good tax professional/accountant. The majority of that is paperwork.
The technical skills are a combination of deep expertise in both front end and back end, which is kind of rare in government contracting, plus the big 5 consulting background, which gives you credibility, plus being honest about what you know and dont know. Believe it or not, honesty goes a long way. It's your personal brand, after all.
Entry ones are harder to remember, but here goes. Leaving company names out since they're mostly small and it would be obvious who I am. Numbers are mostly approximate.
19 - ~$20/hr Doing remote web dev for my college in WV.
21 - $60k Doing GTK/C for avionics place in Milwaukee
22 - ~$25k Went back to school, MS in Computer Vision, worked as TA/RA
24 - $68k C++, small science software company near Boston
25 - $78k same company
26 - $92k Jumped to mid stage startup (still Boston doing integration of machine learning algorithms (Python/Matlab)
27 - $100k
28 - $115k (promoted to Data Scientist)
29 - $125k
30 - $136k started leading small team of analytics developers
31 - $145k started leading both teams of analytics developers and data scientists, also started working remotely from a midwest state.
32 - $155k
Seeing some of these salaries for remote developers for SV companies makes me wonder if maybe that's the ticket. Do they really just not adjust based on location? My mid term goal is to be able to save up enough to give a few years runway to do whatever. It's tough to fathom moving on though because I really do like the area my current company is in.
My numbers: I have a BSc and MSc in mechanical engineering but never found a job in that field where I want/need to live, so fell back to software dev. Amounts in Canadian rupees before tax (I pay an average ~25% of my gross income as income tax)
2011 - $21k/yr grad student scholarship
2015 - $55k/yr startup that died in ~6mo
2016 - $60k/yr contract at a university
2017 - $72k/yr + pension as manager + developer at said university
2018 - $90k/yr startup, software dev morphing into architect / product lead
Here's another take. CS degree from a top university, spent my entire childhood doing Linux and Windows stuff. I only started taking my career seriously over the past 7 years or so. I'm in the Bay Area.
I've only started to develop some level of self discipline in the past few years. Before then, I wasn't even working 40 hours a week. I'd have some brief bursts of productivity where I'd automate something or crank out a project really quickly, but most of the time I was messing around with new technologies.
Given what I'm seeing here, I think I'm going to start looking at working for a FAANG. It's always been my intention to retire early, and I could probably operate at burnout levels of productivity for a few years in exchange for being able to finish funding that plan.
2017 was a trainwreck. All positions are generalist (mobile, full stack, devops, design, etc.) because company sizes have been tiny. Figures do not include stock or bonuses because that number is pretty much zero.
I live in a major metro area and feel massively undervalued but I don't want to sell out to BigCo
This is such an odd survey, especially when framed as "White people especially need to talk about their salaries because marginalized folks in the same fields often have no idea they're being swindled by employers."
How knowledge of me making $X helps anyone? If you think that you're underpaid, the only thing that will make difference is a competing offer. Reducing experience, amount of work, kind of work and value to the organization, to just 2 variables - race and number - won't make any difference.
1. Know your local job market.
2. Make sure you're working on right things.
3. Be a team player.
4. Make your bosses happy (usually that goes hand-in-hand with working on right things and being a team player).
I made good last year, but it's because I happened to be at the right time in the right place, and put a lot of hours of work. Would putting a number and my race on that give you any insight into that?
> Would putting a number and my race on that give you any insight into that?
I believe your analysis is unfairly reductionist and doesn't really capture the spirit of the tweet. If I was asking you for advice about salary, I'd definitely be interested in everything you mentioned, what your skills are, how you got to your current position etc. The issue is that marginalized groups often find it hard to advocate for themselves because of issues of perception and also they lack the knowledge required to properly negotiate. It's hard to know what numbers to throw out when you don't even have a range or you don't know what the social protocols / customs are regarding negotiation.
The point of sharing isn't to trivialize your hard work but it's to help people who are just as qualified and talented as you not fall through the cracks.
Software development is a huge professional field, with people doing all sorts of things, in all kinds of companies. A bunch of numbers pulled off of the international forum (HN) with such variability in job descriptions and levels, is just that - a bunch of numbers.
I want to be helpful, but simply throwing the number around is not it.
Knowing the international job market is very helpful. I would not know it without a post like this (or HN in general). I could 5x my salary by moving to the US and stay in a tech role. To do a 5x here i'd need to become a board member of a large company.
Year) Salary - Bonus - Company
1) 50k - 10% - Company 1 - small private tech consulting firm (NYC)
2) 60k - 10% - Company 1 (NoVa)
3) 70k - 15% - Company 1
4) 80k - 15% - Company 1
5) 90k - 15% - Company 1
6) 100k - 15% - Company 1
7) 105k - 15% - Company 1
8) 135k - 15% - Company 2 - series C startup, sales software (SF)
9) 25k - 0% - Company 3 - seed round, business tools, co-founder (SF)
10) 60k - 0% - Company 3
11) 160k - 10%* - Company 4 - series A startup, transportation, acquired a year before (peninsula)
12) 180k - 15%* - Company 4
13) 220k - 25% - Company 5 - series D startup, fintech, acquired a year before (peninsula)
After reading all of the other posts here I'm shocked you're not making 2M at line 13. I don't know if there's a bias for the ultra-high earners to post their income here, albeit anonymously, skewing the perception of what's normal.
I made a decision somewhere in my career after working at some big and small companies is that I really like the small company vibe, you get involved with many aspects of the business and have a lot more freedom to set technical direction. I also noticed a weird effect in a number of bigger businesses where money wasn't as much as a problem and as a result people tended to innovate less.
But I always feel, given my broad old school / new school skillset built up over decades, I could do better elsewhere moneywise.
Theoretically it would be better for me to start my own business, but where I am I get to concentrate on product creation and solving a broad range of technical problems which is super fun!
you've had a wide variety of positions. how did you manage all that? did you educate yourself before interviewing at companies or was the purpose to have a wide breadth of knowledge so you purposefully sought out a variety of positions?
I've traded $ for time twice so far, and overall I'm okay with that.
1999 23k first full-time job, hourly, Maryland
2005 39k promoted to salaried position
2006 76k moved to Silicon Valley as SWE, Mountain View
2008 106k company bought
2009 158k residual stock
2010 153k new gig in RWC
2012 149k new gig in Mountain View
2015 168k company bought, new gig in SF
2017 165k new gig in Santa Clara
I'm Chris from Airwindows. I develop audio software and in recent years, give all of it away for free and as MIT-licensed open source. I've recently been cited by name in the New York Times in an op-ed about a subject I pioneered. I've recently worked out a method for dithering to floating point mantissas and released the code under Unlicense (public domain) after refining and improving the code in public discussion with Alexey Lukin of iZotope. This is the (very much a game of diminishing returns, mind you) cutting edge of digital audio R&D and I got the last word: mind you, I had to, because I release open source and Lukin's suggestions though brief were not being accompanied by licensing, making verbatim use of his code legally problematic. Because of what I do for a living and the knock-on effect of people reusing my code in the expectation that they can do that safely, I'm compelled to take that very seriously.
I make $15,204 a year.
I think there is no correlation between capital and any kind of merit, value, or even basic function. At this point, nothing you do no matter how useful or significant will change your financial position so it becomes an entirely separate issue from 'what work can you do' or 'what do you love'. I expect to die, not soon thank goodness, from issues related to poverty.
Until that time, I get to be Chris from Airwindows, and I'll be able to continue to do these things I care about. On the other hand, if I hadn't scratched my way up to $15,204 by now I never would, and I'd be trying to do the same work (as I'd have many of the same thoughts and ideas) out of a shopping cart and dying much sooner still.
The really interesting thing is how most of my Patreon (that's the mechanism, while it lasts: then I die) is composed of people in roughly my wealth position. It appears there is a class interest: if you as a very wealthy open source advocate can use my code (as the 'idea making' class) you'll do so happily, but as soon as you learn I make $15,204 a year, this becomes a compelling argument for not sending any of your wealth out of your class into a lower, less worthy class that should not have wealth. That's how it works out in practice. I think the mental model there is, if my financial position had merit, it would have far more money, therefore giving it more money would only lead to things like me making physical stuff and giving it away (or distributing it at cost to other poor people) thus wasting it or actively sabotaging the wealthier class by giving resources to a poor class.
And this would indeed be what I would do :D
And so these discussions must be viewed in terms of class interests, sometimes quite consciously expressed.
It's interesting that in U.S and probably in other countries people talk about their annual salaries. Where I live we talk about our monthly salaries after all taxes have been deducted. So when I look at his last number $189,000, how can I convert it to actual monthly income(or are Americans payed/paid two times a month?). Probably I have to deduct income tax and health insurance, right? And there is also this 401k. Or are there any other hidden taxes that workers in U.S. have to take into consideration?
I'll post mine because I know there are other juniours reading this who feel like shit when they read how much other people are making. All cash denominated in CAD. I have no degree for what it is worth.
- 2017: Internship, $3k /month
- 2018: Sysadmin, 70k/year
- 2019: Raise, but no promotion, 82.5k/year
I tried to interview in January for some software dev positions, but failed on the coding portion of the interviews. I'm studying hard to learn to program and hopefully by the end of the year I'll be able to interview for some $100k jobs.
Aside from the year, that is so similar to my first SE job:
East coast but not big city: 1999 $48k, 2000 $52k
I suppose inflation has been mild. Showing up in the height of the Y2K/web frenzy sure helped. I got myself a nice embedded RTOS kernel developer job before even finishing my degree. Meanwhile, everybody else was running off to invent web development or repair COBOL.
People graduating just a couple years later slammed into a dead market.
To the author: were any of these cleared positions? Typically those command a premium and require some sacrifice as it applies to personal lifestyle choices. CACI often requires clearances for government clients, for example which is why you might see a drop when moving to Motley Fool (a commercial customer)
It's only a sacrifice if you'd actually want to do things that would raise concern.
On the other hand, it is a huge benefit if you'd rather not be surrounded by people with those kinds of concerns. It's nice to know that none of your coworkers are likely to steal your stuff, commit acts of violence upon you, spill fentanyl on your desk, embezzle the company's assets, offer you food items with unmentioned unconventional ingredients, or do anything other than be calm and level-headed.
Those are pretty extreme. For me and probably 90% of other devs who don't want to get a security clearance, it's because of prior drug use. I don't even do anything like that other than smoke weed these days (which I would easily quit if I needed to for a job, though I still think that's very outdated BS) but the government seems really scared about people who've even previously used drugs.
No, I'm not going to spill fentanyl, weed, or any other drug on your desk and I'm also not going to lie during the clearance process to say that I've smoked weed less than 50 times in my life - but apparently that means I can't get a clearance.
it's not the drug use that is the problem. a lot of the time it is about honesty. If you try to hide anything on clearance paperwork, and they find it (they always find stuff), that's immediate disqualification.
there are people with all kinds of backgrounds, and some with drug use in their background, with active clearances. it's not automatic any more. just be 100% honest.
the adjudicator needs to make a determination of whether they think you could be compromised in some way. just because someone smoked weed in college or got a DUI once doesn't mean they can be compromised.
- 2016/2017: 35K - unemployment system salary, while I was an entrepreneur
- 2018: 65K - senior software engineer
- 2019: ? (I'm now a manager)
- my salary is very low compared to some mentioned in this thread, and yet I don't have the impression to be underpaid, in comparison to other engineers in Paris, and of course, in comparison to other French people. I'm the best paid among my Parisian friends (and probably among all those who where within my school class in high school, when I lived in a small French city, where 2000€/month is already great)
Of course, I could do a lot more but before this year I wasn't a manager. To earn more as a software engineer without leadership responsibilities, you have to be part of the bests. Not my case I think.
- I feel it's very hard to exceed 90/100K. I know a few VP at 120K/130K but it's an elite. It's even hard for them to find a job position.
- retrospectively, the tech job market in Paris was very depressing before 2011. No start-ups (so no equity), very few tech companies, low salaries. I've been hired at a low 35K, as almost all the fellows from my engineering school. Today, an engineer in Paris started at 40 and is at 50 in two years.
- sometimes, I regret that all my "VIE" contracts (a program that allows french people to go work in French companies abroad) collapsed in the month of January 2009, just after the beginning of the financial crisis...
But it would have been to work for the Societe Generale in New-York or for Safran in Houston, not for Google or Facebook. And I wouldn't have met my wife, so really no regrets.
- I also admit that in my first years in Paris, I was almost more in bars and movie theaters than in an office. Maybe it'd have been different if there was already a startup scene at this time.
- the start-up when I worked today tried often to hire foreign engineers. Everyone is generally very excited to come work in Paris, but has difficulties to get past the salary barrier. In these moments, I have to be the best advocate for the French health and unemployment system, which is great but, let's be honest, doesn't replace the crazy salaries I see on this thread. I like our system mostly because it helps my grand-mothers to live in a decent way, but if I was alone here, without a sense of solidarity, and without the desire to make my life here, I'd think it's a waste.
- in 2016-2017, I was an entrepreneur. It's been tough and it's been a failure (not a big failure, but still a failure). But thanks to the unemployment system, I was paid around 35K/year.
It was a startup; so being VP of Software didn't feel that impressive, but thank you. I built the mobile app, firmware, the deployment pipeline for the site, etc. Since [Jewelbots was open source](https://github.com/jewelbots), everything we did was on Github. Although if you want to see the firmware, you have to dive in deeper on the Arduino side to see it (Jewelbots firmware repo itself is not in the open; though I have no special insight as to why that is).
Don't forget that this is before taxes, retirement savings, healthcare and other deductions.
You can't just hand-wave away "standard of living" and "social services and benefits".
These may be things you take for granted but a large majority of the population has to have a large emergency refund in case they get severed from their company without any notice for any reason (Compare that with job security in France or Germany).
Consider you need to save a ton of money yourself in government sponsored accounts such as HSA or FSAs for future healthcare expenses that you can't possibly estimate when you're 20 years old. (Compare that with the NHS in England).
Consider you need to sock away a ton of money in 401ks and IRAs so that when you're 50 with no job prospects, you don't end up on the street and can actually have a decent retirement. Nobody is paying serious pensions and hardly anyone can survive on social security. (Compare that with the savings pillars in Switzerland).
Now considering all this, you still think his salary is HUGE compared to a Western European one? I highly doubt it, I have already run the numbers myself.
The NHS will probably keep you alive if this is considered to be a cost-effective use of funds that are shared by the entire population. The older you get, the lower your priority. You might spend a long time on a waiting list, then get assigned a low-quality treatment that is cheap.
If you want better, you'll have to pay out of pocket, possibly including travel to some other country.
The problem with universal healthcare is that your case is rarely a priority. Young - what kind of problems you might have? Male - oh stop moaning and complaining already! Foreigner - locals have higher priority. Old - you don't contribute to the society anymore, etc. Unless one is specialist in the healthcare system with lots of spare time, sending appeals and warnings right and left - one falls back into expensive private healthcare services.
European salaries are also before taxes (which are higher), retirement saving, healthcare, and other deductions. In Germany, e.g., you have to deduct from 60k EUR salary roughly the following: 13k taxes, 4k healthcare (your employer has to pay another 4k), 5.5k retirement, 1.7k social security. And you certainly want to save something extra for your retirement as well.
Job prospects for information workers will be far better than those in physically demanding jobs. People’s bodies give out by 50. Not completely, but enough where they can’t do physically laborious work.
The broader point of the new replacing the old is generally true (your marketability will decline by age 50), but I still see many baby boomers holding onto well paying positions for the foreseeable future. I save to hedge the risk, but I’m not too worried, since I believe the risk is over-stated.
If we are to compare US vs EU salaries, we must take into account healthcare cost, retirement, welfare, parental leave, PTO and so on. Otherwise the whole purpose of the exercise is pointless and it may embellish on side of the argument vis-a-vis the other.
How do you call that sort of tactics already? Propaganda, right? The POTUS would respond "Fake News!" (although I'm not fond of him).
Ignorance and complacency run amok on HN these days.
I don't see why you shouldnt come up with such "irrelevant minor stuff" like standard of living, mostly free healthcare & social services (depending on the country etc. You might not want to hear it, but for many people the whole not having to worry about healthcare is a massive benefit.
I'm certainly not saying that a comparison is equal, but it feels like for anyone except the highly paid, the gap isn't that wide all things considered.
Very interesting question. Most capital is deployed into fixed assets (like land) which generate regular dependable income. Excess capital is then invested in US companies.l (based on historical performance).
Also: a B2C service startup in the US has a bigger potential market than the same one in Europe (assuming they’re targeting what they know—the local market).
End result: no gigantic piles of cash looking for investment opportunities going to VCs to funnel into 100x success maybe startups, no companies minting money like crazy, no salary inflation
But you still have to worry about these things though. The universal healthcare in countries like Poland and Romania is heavily underfunded and dysfunctional, in countries like Italy and Germany is skewed towards the older people who are the major voting demographic. German healthcare insurers had record high surplus recently, yet young people still pay extra for common things like various dentist, or eye doctor services. Bismarck-style pension system will face a turning point in the upcoming 1-2 decades, especially in countries like Italy, Germany, and Poland.
The article starts out with a fairly standard condemnation of white people for daring to keep our salary information to ourselves, and/or for daring to believe that we make the money we make fairly (you know, by delivering value to our employers).
No, it doesn’t. It starts out with a tweet saying that people in general (not just white people) have issues with discussing salaries. The tweet then says that white people in particular should openly discuss their salaries because we all know that some companies try their best to swindle employees, and that in general white people have a better sense about what it means to be fairly compensated. Is that not what you read? Or did you just not agree with it?
There is a footnote in the first paragraph that mentions white people and privilege. The purpose of the footnote was for the author to explain that even though he’s providing this information, it may not help non-white people.
Either way, neither the tweet nor the footnote say what you’re saying.
It's a really taboo subject to talk about to begin with; and there are really two extremes that you'll hear:
1. It's a meritocracy and anyone can do this! (It isn't, and they can't)
2. Yea, this will work for you but not in general. (You're probably right on this one, as my salary and my progression are very personal things).
To thread the needle, I'm trying to point out that I acknowledge #2, and explicitly reject #1 as empirically false; and I hope that by sharing my salary, I bring light to the fact that #1 is false, and that if more people who are similarly advantaged as I am talk about it, we can make #2 no longer be the case.
By "whites" here, I assume you mean "white-collar workers". Usually, in vernacular, "whites" is taken as a slightly derogatory metonym for "white people", so I was initially slightly taken aback by your comment. Sorry if I was being obtuse, but I have never heard the term "whites" used in this fashion.
"white people especially need too..."
No, black people need to stop complaining about everything, if this guy or whatever it is was worth enough to his company he would get the money he deserve. Nobody owe any information to anyone, and I will ignore your preferred pronouns.