We work in a fairly diverse industry.[ref]I'm not talking ethnic or gender diversity here. That's a hot topic, and far beyond the scope of this (or any single) blog post.[/ref] Different developers bring different sets of skills to the table. Better still, vastly differing life experiences present disparate vantage points from which engineering problems are viewed and eventually solved.
As a result, we've built an industry with varied job titles, job descriptions, and no real sense of order or design. A "senior" position in one company might not resemble that of another. Titles that suit one agency might not even exist in the context of another serving the same market. Team structures look different and fill different needs, yet from the outside might be assumed to be interchangeable.
Most visibly, the expectations of one or another role might vary widely from one organization or management team to another. Similarly, salaries will vary as well.
For many of us who came from self-employed freelancer roles and are just beginning to wade into the waters of corporate or agency employment, this can be as confusing as it is scary. How much is my time worth when I'm working for someone else? How much of that value should flow through to me and how much should be retained by my employer?
What salary should I ask for when I take on a _________ position?
Valuing your own skills isn't easy - a fact evidenced by many freelancers starting their careers with laughably low billable rates. That said, it's an important component of any job search or any long-term career strategy. Everyone wants to make enough money to be comfortable; they might even have a dollar amount in mind to achieve that. But where you start is vitally important to determining the path your career will take.[ref]A professor in business school once reminded us "you're only hired once" when talking about starting salaries. Raises and promotions within an organization are often based on your current position. If you come in too junior or with too low a salary, reaching you target on the corporate ladder will be far more difficult than if you enter with reasonable expectations.[/ref]
Armed with this information, we can better judge where each of us sits within the industry landscape and can make a more informed decision about our current positions, potential promotions, or even that next job (none of us would really consider taking).
The survey is powered by Google and is 100% anonymous. I will aggregate the information reported and present some stats on industry trends later this month.
If you work in tech and have a few minutes to spare, I encourage you to fill out this questionnaire. The results will be invaluable to everyone.